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The Fascinating History of New York and Boston's Race to Build a Subway

Doug Most's new book, The Race Underground, tracks the rivalry that emerged with the tracks.
relates to The Fascinating History of New York and Boston's Race to Build a Subway
Courtesy of Doug Most

Long before Yankees-versus-Red Sox, the rivalry between New York and Boston came down to transportation. When New York completed the Erie Canal in 1825, Boston grew so envious it stopped referring to its rival by name. (Massachusetts Governor Levi Lincoln would only call it "a neighboring state.") When Boston responded by building the country's first true railroad system, it was New York's turn to worry about keeping pace with its "enterprising neighbors."

Boston Globe editor Doug Most follows this intercity transportation feud below ground with his new book, The Race Underground: Boston, New York, and the Incredible Rivalry That Built America's First Subway. Boston finished its subway first — service began September 1, 1897 — and didn't let its neighbor forget it. ("Its success will mean setting the pace for greater Gotham," wrote the Globe.) New York didn't follow suit until October 27, 1904.