The Malbone Street Wreck

Overview


On November 1, 1918, as the Great War in Europe was entering its final hours, a five-car elevated train was heading for the Flatbush section of Brooklyn with hundreds of homeward-bound commuters aboard. As the train rumbled down a shor hill between Prospect Park and Ebbets Field in the very heart of Brooklyn, the unthinkable happened: the motorman lost control and the train left the tracks as it curved into a tunnel at the foot of the hill. The ensuing disaster, known ever since as the Malbone Street Wreck, took...
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Overview


On November 1, 1918, as the Great War in Europe was entering its final hours, a five-car elevated train was heading for the Flatbush section of Brooklyn with hundreds of homeward-bound commuters aboard. As the train rumbled down a shor hill between Prospect Park and Ebbets Field in the very heart of Brooklyn, the unthinkable happened: the motorman lost control and the train left the tracks as it curved into a tunnel at the foot of the hill. The ensuing disaster, known ever since as the Malbone Street Wreck, took the lives of almost a hundred people and stands as the worst mass-transit accident in U.S. History. Unlike the Titanic disaster, however, the Malbone Street Wreck has received scant attention from scholars and historians over the years. As is so often the case, popular accounts of the tragedy have managed to enshrine as dogma thinkgs that are absolutely untrue. Now, Fordham University Press is proud to present Brian J. Cudahy's long-awaited account of the Malbone Street Wreck, a book that recounts the events leading up to the disaster, describes the faithful trip from its beginning to end, and reviews efforts conducted after the tragedy to fix blame and establish liability. Could the Malbone Stret Wreck have been avoided? Clearly yes, is Cudahy's answer. Had any number of factors not combined in precisely the way that they did, the five-car train might have well continued its journey to Brighton Beach in a completely uneventful manner. But they did happen exactly as they happened, and that is why The Malbone Street Wreck makes such arresting reading. Could another Malbone Street Wreck happen at some future time in New York, or on any other U.S. Mass Transit System? Transit professionals will have to answer this question after they read Cudahy's account of how and why November 1, 1918 has become such an important day in transportation history.
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Editorial Reviews

Booknews
On November 1, 1918, a five-car elevated train in New City ran out of control and, one by one, the cars derailed and smashed into the concrete walls of a tunnel, killing 93 people. Transportation historian Cudahy chronicles the worst mass-transit accident in US history. He includes maps and photographs. Paper edition (unseen), $19.95. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780823219322
  • Publisher: Fordham University Press
  • Publication date: 1/1/1999
  • Edition description: 2
  • Edition number: 2
  • Pages: 120
  • Product dimensions: 8.90 (w) x 5.80 (h) x 0.40 (d)

Meet the Author

BRIAN J. CUDAHY's books include Around Manhattan Island: And Other Maritime Tales ofNew York and A Century of Subways: Celebrating 100 Years of New York's Underground Railways (both Fordham). He lives in Bluffton, SC.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 5, 2003

    A Short History of a Terrible Day

    Like David von Drehle's narrative of the Triangle Shirtwaist fire, Brian Cudahy has written an account of a New York disaster which had strong ramifications for the rest of America. And like TRIANGLE, Cudahy's THE MALBONE STREET WRECK does not exploit the tragedy for the sake of sensationalism and profit. It is a sober narrative which actually sends warning signals to the mass transit officials of today. This remarkably short book is very thorough. Beginning with America's pulse during the final days of World War I and the influenza epidemic that scourged the nation and world, Mr. Cudahy then explores the world of 1918 New York. Specifically, he inspects the confluence of forces, such as local politics, labor relations, the profit motive of the train line owners, and others, that led to the placement of an untrained, unqualified transit worker in the motorman's booth of a rush hour train. The result being the violent death of almost 100 people in The Malbone Street Wreck. Mr. Cudahy's research seems conscientious, and where he is unsure of the facts, he tells us so. There is an honesty to his narration that gives the story an almost personal tone. (His mother did lose two cousins in the wreck.) The several maps and illustrations are extremely helpful. And while the photos of the disaster site and wrecked subway cars are shocking, they are not gruesome. And they serve as strong reminders of the imperative for the transportation officials of today to adhere to strict safety standards.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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