Why New York City Stopped Building Subways.
Nearly 80 years ago, a construction standstill derailed the subway’s progress, leading to its present crisis. This is the story, decade by decade.
In the first decades of the 20th century, New York City experienced an unprecedented infrastructure boom. Iconic bridges, opulent railway terminals, and much of what was then the world’s largest underground and rapid transit network were constructed in just 20 years. Indeed, that subway system grew from a single line in 1904 to a network hundreds of miles long by the 1920s. It spread rapidly into undeveloped land across upper Manhattan and the outer boroughs, bringing a wave of apartment houses alongside.