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Episode Info: You may think taking the T is painful today, but back in the days of horsedrawn streetcars, public transportation was slow, inefficient, and frequently snarled in downtown traffic. In the 1880s, proposals for elevated railways and subways competed for attention as Boston’s rapid transit solution. Then, an ambitious inventor stormed the scene with a groundbreaking proposal for a monorail. He even went as far as building a mile long track in East Cambridge, showing that the monorail worked. If it hadn’t been for bad luck and bad politics, we might all be taking monorails instead of today’s Red and Orange lines, but instead the monorail turned out to be more of a Shelbyville idea. Please support us on Patreon and check out the full show notes at: A Genuine, Bonafide, Non-Electrified Monorail! The diagrams above are taken from this book by Meigs about his monorail system, and the photographs are via Historic New England. JThe 1885 patent on the Meigs monorail system. The 1887 engineering report prepared by George Stark for the Board of Railroad Commisssioners. Expanded version of Stark’s report. July 1886 Scientific American article (text reproduced here). A Q&A with Joe Meigs about rapid transit. An 1882 article in the Crimson announcing a demonstration by Meigs. JP Morgan takes over. Using the Meigs charter to build elevated lines roughly following today’s Red and Orange lines. Erecting one sad section of track in 1894. The archives at Yale hold the Joe V Meigs papers. Celebrate Boston collected a number of sources related to the Meigs monorail. In this 19th century Photoshop job, see the elevated railway that Bostonians feared would block out the sun. Our #mysteryphoto was really an #AprilFools photo! This photo is a mockup for an Elevated Rail on Tremont St that was never built. Its probably from 1894 or 1895. Here's a real photo of Tremont St in the same time period. — Boston City Archives (@ArchivesBoston) April 1, 2019 And here is the construction of the actual Orange Line, proving that they might have been right to be afraid. #onthisday in 1901, the Elevated Rail was being constructed in Roxbury. Click on the link to take a closer look! — Boston City Archives (@ArchivesBoston) May 16, 2019 Boston Book Club Greater Boston is high on the shortlist of my favorite podcasts, and it’s the only fiction podcast I currently listen to, what they would call an audio drama. If you’re listening to our show, you probably love not only history but also Boston, which makes you the perfect prospect for Greater Boston. It’s set in a slightly fictionalized, historically informed version of our city, where the streets of the North End are permanently sticky from the molasses flood, where the roller coasters at Wonderland can still scare you half to death, and where a garbage fire on Spectacle Island has been burning for decades....
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