Today in History, March 24, 1900:
New York City Mayor Robert Anthony Van Wyck uses a silver spade to turn the first shovel-full of dirt on a new project: The first underground “Rapid Transit Railroad” in NYC. The first leg would run from Manhattan to Brooklyn. What is now known as the subway would get someone from downtown to Harlem in 13 minutes.
“When Mayor Van Wyck, silver spade in hand, lifted the first shovel of dirt from a small excavation in the flagging in front of the City Hall yesterday, the rapid transit tunnel was officially begun. Around New York’s Chief Magistrate were grouped the men whose persevering work of years had at last made rapid transit a certainty in New York, city officials who have aided them more-or-less in their efforts, financiers who came to the rescue when their aid was most needed, citizens whose names are a power in the professional and commercial world. and beyond all these, banked in almost solid phalanx from the sidewalks of Broadway across the park to the tall buildings in Park Row, were thousands of citizens of all degrees of life, who fought and struggled for position to witness one of the most important events in the history of the city.” –The New York Times, March 25, 1900