Conquering Gotham: Building Penn Station and Its Tunnels [NOOK Book]

Overview

"Superb. [A] first-rate narrative" (The Wall Street Journal ) about the controversial construction of New York's beloved original Penn Station and its tunnels



As bestselling books like Ron Chernow's Titan and David McCullough's The Great Bridge affirm, readers are fascinated with the grand personalities and schemes that populated New York at the close of the nineteenth ...
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Conquering Gotham: Building Penn Station and Its Tunnels

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Overview

"Superb. [A] first-rate narrative" (The Wall Street Journal ) about the controversial construction of New York's beloved original Penn Station and its tunnels



As bestselling books like Ron Chernow's Titan and David McCullough's The Great Bridge affirm, readers are fascinated with the grand personalities and schemes that populated New York at the close of the nineteenth century. Conquering Gotham re- creates the riveting struggle waged by the great Pennsylvania Railroad to build Penn Station and the monumental system of tunnels that would connect water-bound Manhattan to the rest of the continent by rail. Historian Jill Jonnes tells a ravishing tale of snarling plutocrats, engineering feats, and backroom politicking packed with the most colorful figures of Gilded Age New York.



Conquering Gotham will be featured in an upcoming episdoe of PBS's American Experience.


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Editorial Reviews

Sam Roberts
A human account of how a few visionaries from the Pennsylvania Railroad connected the rest of the country to the nation's greatest port, and how their Philadelphia-centric perspective doomed the world's largest train station.
The New York Times
The Baltimore Sun
Lush and lovely prose.
Publishers Weekly
Modern Manhattan is a miracle in many ways, but all of its imports, commuters included, must traverse at least one river to get there. In 1900, the New York Central, owned by the Vanderbilts, already gave Manhattan a northern connection over the narrow Harlem River. A southern connection over the mile-wide Hudson would be a whole different story. Alexander Cassatt, president of the Pennsylvania Railroad, was the visionary on the project. But how to do it? A bridge plan fell through due to expense; a tunnel would lack the oxygen needed for steam engines. The breakthrough lay in the cutting-edge electrified locomotives developed in Paris. Historian Jonnes (Empires of Light), demonstrating impressive immersion in the Gilded Age, ably spins the tale, which bears some similarities to The Devil in the White City. This is a vivid story of hardball Tammany Hall maneuvering and mind-boggling engineering. Once construction began, the two-track narrative settles on the daunting construction of the tunnels and Charles McKim's much-admired design of the terminus at Pennsylvania Station, prized by New Yorkers only after its ill-considered demise in 1963. Jonnes can claim an important addition to the popular literature of how New York became the archetype of a great American metropolis. (Apr. 23) Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information.
Library Journal
In 1901, the Pennsylvania Railroad (PRR) embarked on an epic nine-year project to bring its tracks into New York City. It would involve two tunnels under the Hudson River, four under the East River, and the building of the majestic Penn Station in midtown Manhattan. In her meticulous history, Jonnes (Empires of Light: Edison, Tesla, Westinghouse, and the Race To Electrify the World) brings to life the project's leaders, its workers, and early 1900s New York City. She carefully explains how engineering decisions were made to overcome the extremely difficult tunneling conditions. She creates suspense over the PRR's investigation of why the Hudson River tunnels kept shifting in the riverbed's silt. She gives full attention to the McKim, Mead & White architectural designs for Penn Station and details the sensational Stanford White murder and trial. Throughout, she seamlessly weaves in the machinations of the Tammany Hall political machine and the imperious practices of Gilded Age business tycoons. In a sad epilog, she chronicles the decline of the PRR and Penn Station's demolition in 1963. Several dozen superbly chosen period photos and diagrams round out the book. Jonnes has produced a well-researched and fast-paced history that is most highly recommended to all libraries.
—Lawrence R. Maxted
Library Journal
In 1901, the Pennsylvania Railroad (PRR) embarked on an epic nine-year project to bring its tracks into New York City. It would involve two tunnels under the Hudson River, four under the East River, and the building of the majestic Penn Station in midtown Manhattan. In her meticulous history, Jonnes (Empires of Light: Edison, Tesla, Westinghouse, and the Race To Electrify the World) brings to life the project's leaders, its workers, and early 1900s New York City. She carefully explains how engineering decisions were made to overcome the extremely difficult tunneling conditions. She creates suspense over the PRR's investigation of why the Hudson River tunnels kept shifting in the riverbed's silt. She gives full attention to the McKim, Mead & White architectural designs for Penn Station and details the sensational Stanford White murder and trial. Throughout, she seamlessly weaves in the machinations of the Tammany Hall political machine and the imperious practices of Gilded Age business tycoons. In a sad epilog, she chronicles the decline of the PRR and Penn Station's demolition in 1963. Several dozen superbly chosen period photos and diagrams round out the book. Jonnes has produced a well-researched and fast-paced history that is most highly recommended to all libraries.-Lawrence R. Maxted, Gannon Univ., Erie, PA Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781101218891
  • Publisher: Penguin Group (USA)
  • Publication date: 4/19/2007
  • Sold by: Penguin Group
  • Format: eBook
  • Pages: 384
  • Sales rank: 224,962
  • File size: 2 MB

Meet the Author


Jill Jonnes is the author of Conquering Gotham, Empires of Light, and South Bronx Rising. She was named a National Endowment for the Humanities scholar and has received several grants from the Ford Foundation. She lives in Baltimore, Maryland.
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Table of Contents

List of Illustrations     ix
How Shall we Reach Gotham?
"We Must Find a Way to Cross"     5
Haskins's Tunnel and Lindenthal's Bridge     15
"The Ablest Man This Railway Ever Produced"     31
"The North River Bridge Matter"     38
"A Severe Disappointment"     50
"It Might Offer the Solution"     55
"Get a Little of the Tenderloin"     63
"Crooked and Greedy"     73
"Someone in the Penn Is Leaking"     82
"The Town Is On Fire"     87
"We Shall Make Our Fight Aboveboard"     99
"Ugly Rumors of Boodle"     106
The Crossing
"We Are Not Making a Mistake"     127
"A Work Unsought"     139
"Drilling of First Hole"     151
"The Shield Is Ready to Be Shoved"     165
"Slow Progress Has Been Made"     181
"Disturbed about North River Tunnels"     191
"Would Mr. Cassatt Be Resigning?"     202
"Death Stalks Alongside Them"     210
"The Shields Have Met Exactly"     219
"The Only Railroad Statesman"     233
"New York City Shaken"     248
"The Way Is Stony and Wet"     260
"Officially Declare the StationOpen"     277
Coda     296
Acknowledgments     317
Notes     319
Bibliographic Notes     353
Index     355
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Customer Reviews

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Sort by: Showing all of 4 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted January 4, 2012

    Sandhogs

    Loved it. ?my father was a sandhog in the 1930s and 40s. The book gave life to all the stories he told me about working underground.

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