The Great Society Subway: A History of the Washington Metro by Zachary M. Schrag, Paperback | Barnes & Noble
The Great Society Subway: A History of the Washington Metro

The Great Society Subway: A History of the Washington Metro

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by Zachary M. Schrag
     
 

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Drivers in the nation's capital face a host of hazards: high-speed traffic circles, presidential motorcades, jaywalking tourists, and bewildering signs that send unsuspecting motorists from the Lincoln Memorial into suburban Virginia in less than two minutes. And parking? Don't bet on it unless you're in the fast lane of the Capital Beltway during rush

Overview

Drivers in the nation's capital face a host of hazards: high-speed traffic circles, presidential motorcades, jaywalking tourists, and bewildering signs that send unsuspecting motorists from the Lincoln Memorial into suburban Virginia in less than two minutes. And parking? Don't bet on it unless you're in the fast lane of the Capital Beltway during rush hour.

Little wonder, then, that so many residents and visitors rely on the Washington Metro, the 106-mile rapid transit system that serves the District of Columbia and its inner suburbs. In the first comprehensive history of the Metro, Zachary M. Schrag tells the story of the Great Society Subway from its earliest rumblings to the present day, from Arlington to College Park, Eisenhower to Marion Barry.

Unlike the pre–World War II rail systems of New York, Chicago, and Philadelphia, the Metro was built at a time when most American families already owned cars, and when most American cities had dedicated themselves to freeways, not subways. Why did the nation's capital take a different path? What were the consequences of that decision?

Using extensive archival research as well as oral history, Schrag argues that the Metro can be understood only in the political context from which it was born: the Great Society liberalism of the Kennedy, Johnson, and Nixon administrations. The Metro emerged from a period when Americans believed in public investments suited to the grandeur and dignity of the world's richest nation. The Metro was built not merely to move commuters, but in the words of Lyndon Johnson, to create "a place where the city of man serves not only the needs of the body and the demands of commerce but the desire for beauty and the hunger for community."

Schrag scrutinizes the project from its earliest days, including general planning, routes, station architecture, funding decisions, land-use impacts, and the behavior of Metro riders. The story of the Great Society Subway sheds light on the development of metropolitan Washington, postwar urban policy, and the promises and limits of rail transit in American cities.

Editorial Reviews

H-DC

A graceful, fact-packed history of the genesis, development, and current state of the Washington Metro system.

Washington History

A masterful new book... Schrag's The Great Society Subway gives an eloquent and hopeful explanation of how this marvelous system came to be, and backs it up with an enormous amount of evidence and keen historical perspective.

Technology and Culture - Gregory L. Thompson

In this superbly-written book, Zachary Schrag... explains how this achievement came about and what its impact is... A joy to read.

Urban Land - Phil Hervey

A meticulously researched account.

CRM: Journal of Heritage Stewardship - J. Lawrence Lee

Schrag has written a valuable study of the role of infrastructure in shaping the modern, urban world, and he aptly shows both the possibiities and limitations of major public investments... insights especially illuminating.

Journal of Planning Literature - Konrad J. Perlman

Without question high drama... I strongly recommend that you put down the latest Baldacci mystery and ready this very well written, comprehensive, and entertaining book... one terrific book that belongs on lots of shelves, from planners to historians to rail buffs to politicians.

Journal of Transport History - Bob Post

A remarkable book. It has drama, it has pathos, it has passion, it has literary grace.

Journal of Social History - Pamela Scott

In clear and engaging prose, Schrag interweaves facts with a wide range of pragmatic, political, and aesthetic matters with discussions of those who posed and resolved the issues.

Trains

It's a fascinating look at a modern transit triumph.

Civil Engineering

A timely look at how the Metro got where it is today.

American Historical Review - Georg Leidenberger

Extensively researched, cleverly structured, and finely written, this book stands out for the way it provides an integral, comprehensive account of a key urban service.

Washington Post Book World - Dennis Drabelle

The author makes us privy to the thinking that went into the system's design.

Washington Times - Rachel DiCarlo

Schrag does a thorough job with his subject.

Railfan and Railroad - Alexander D. Mitchell

The Great Society Subway is a great book for students of contemporary transit history.

Regional Plan Association Spotlight - Alex Marshall

A welcome and readable addition to the literature of how we construct the societies we inhabit.

Journal of American History - Sy Adler

An exhaustively researched, engagingly written study of the planning, designing, building, and operating of the Washington Metro.

Journal of the American Planning Association - William W. Millar

[Schrag] shows the interrelationship of citizens' hopes and fears, visionaries' ideas, politicians' need to succeed, engineers' practical requirements, and the ebb and flow of affecting events over time. It is a fascinating story well told... a love story by an historian for his city and its people.

American Historical Review
Extensively researched, cleverly structured, and finely written, this book stands out for the way it provides an integral, comprehensive account of a key urban service.

— Georg Leidenberger

Urban Land
A meticulously researched account.

— Phil Hervey

Hartford Courant
A welcome and readable addition to the literature of how we construct the societies we inhabit.

— Alex Marshall

Regional Plan Association Spotlight
An excellent book... a welcome and readable addition to the literature of how we construct the societies we inhabit.

— Alex Marshall

Journal of American History
An exhaustively researched, engagingly written study of the planning, designing, building, and operating of the Washington Metro.

— Sy Adler

Journal of the American Planning Association
Beginning with the history of Washington, DC, and the influences that shaped it, Schrag presents one of the clearest explanations I have ever read on these complex processes... a love story by an historian for his city and its people.

— William W. Millar

Railfan & Railroad
The Great Society Subway is a great book for students of contemporary transit history.

— Alexander D. Mitchell

CRM: Journal of Heritage Stewardship
Schrag has written a valuable study of the role of infrastructure in shaping the modern, urban world, and he aptly shows both the possibiities and limitations of major public investments... insights especially illuminating.

— J. Lawrence Lee

Journal of Social History
In clear and engaging prose, Schrag interweaves facts with a wide range of pragmatic, political, and aesthetic matters with discussions of those who posed and resolved the issues.

— Pamela Scott

Journal of Transport History
A remarkable book. It has drama, it has pathos, it has passion, it has literary grace.

— Bob Post

Journal of the Society of Architectural Historians
In clear and engaging prose, Schrag interweaves facts with a wide range of pragmatic, political, and aesthetic matters with discussions of those who posed and resolved the issues.

— Pamela Scott

Journal of Planning Literature
Without question high drama... I strongly recommend that you put down the latest Baldacci mystery and ready this very well written, comprehensive, and entertaining book... one terrific book that belongs on lots of shelves, from planners to historians to rail buffs to politicians.

— Konrad J. Perlman

Washington Post Book World
The author makes us privy to the thinking that went into the system's design.

— Dennis Drabelle

Technology and Culture

In this superbly-written book, Zachary Schrag,... explains how this achievement came about and what its impact is.

Washington Times
Schrag does a thorough job with his subject.

— Rachel DiCarlo

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781421415772
Publisher:
Johns Hopkins University Press
Publication date:
07/03/2014
Series:
Creating the North American Landscape Series
Edition description:
Reprint
Pages:
376
Sales rank:
158,268
Product dimensions:
6.90(w) x 9.90(h) x 1.10(d)
Age Range:
18 Years

What People are saying about this

Carl Abbott

A masterful work of urban policy history, The Great Society Subway tells the inside story, from idea to reality, of the development of the Washington Metro from the perspectives of all the key players. There's nothing like it available.

Carl Abbott, Portland State University

Meet the Author

Zachary M. Schrag is a professor of history at George Mason University.

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