In 1870 Alfred Ely Beach, then editor of Scientific American, financed the construction of a prototype pneumatic subway in New York City—from Warren Street, south down Broadway to Murray Street. From that milestone forward, the growth and resilience of New York City's rapid transit system has come under greater scrutiny this week as the region responds to serious damage suffered as a result of Hurricane Sandy. Scientific American gave extensive coverage to the system during its piecemeal phases in the late 19th century and during its expansion and consolidation in the early and mid-20th century. By 1904, the system included right-of-ways, rails and stations operated by two private company lines (the BMT and the IRT). A subsequent city-owned lined (the IND) also was part of the system that ultimately became part of the New York City Transit Authority in 1953. Check out this slide show which features a selection of visual highlights from Scientific American's coverage of the system from 1870 to 1915.

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