Coming Events

“The Race Underground”
Boston, New York, and the Incredible Rivalry That Built America’s First Subway

Doug Most
Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Construction of the first section of the Red Line subway in 1895 along Tremont Street beside the Boston Common. (Photograph from the Boston Carmen's Union, Local 589)

Construction of the first section of the Red Line subway in 1895 along Tremont Street beside the Boston Common. (Photograph from Boston Carmen’s Union, Local 589)

Doug Most will speak about his latest book which presents the story behind the construction of Boston’s subway, the first in the United States. The introduction to The Race Underground describes the motivation, challenges, and obstacles to this 19th century “Big Dig”:

“In the second half of the nineteenth century, the horse-pulled streetcar, clip-clopping along at five miles per hour and filled with an unbearable stench, slowly began to cripple two great American cities. In Boston and New York, there were too many people and no safe, fast, reliable way for them to move from one neighborhood to the next. In the summer heat, carriages inched forward until the animals reared up their legs in frustration, and police had to come out swinging their clubs to restore peace. During the winter it was no better. Horses struggled to get their footing in the snow and ice and were driven to exhaustion or sometimes death. When a solution finally emerged – a subway – it was rejected time and again, either by corrupt politicians, selfish businessmen, or terrified citizens. ‘A menace to the health of the public’, a man of the times said. A newspaper article went even further, describing a subway ride like ‘living in a tomb’. “

Doug Most was born in Boston (to parents from New York City), grew up in Rhode Island, and spent his early career as a journalist for newspapers in South Carolina and New Jersey. He subsequently returned to the Boston area where he became the editor of Boston magazine, a writer for other magazines, and a teacher of magazine writing and editing at Boston University. In 2003 he joined the staff of the Boston Globe and the Boston Globe Sunday Magazine.

Wednesday, February 17th, 2016 @ 7:30-9:00 pm
Assembly Room, Belmont Memorial Library
Refreshments will be served

Check this page in the coming weeks for information about our other programs in the Spring of 2016.