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Episode Info: Co-host emerita Nikki and I are camping this weekend, so instead of a brand new episode, we’re giving you three classic stories about advances in transportation in Boston. First up, we’re going to take a look at a precursor to today’s MBTA. In the late 19th century, a bold entrepreneur built a full sized, working monorail in East Cambridge, but failed to convince the city to adopt it for public transportation. Then, inspired by last week’s show about the World Fliers, our second story will be about the first people to take to the skies in Boston. In the early 19th century, daring aeronauts made a series of increasingly ambitious balloon ascents in Boston. Finally, we’ll turn the clock back to the 1780s, just as the Revolutionary War was concluding. At the time, the town of Boston was on a tiny peninsula, almost completely surrounded by water. The ferry connecting Boston to the mainland struggled to keep up with demand, and Bostonians were looking for a better way… but we’ll cross that bridge when we come to it. Please check out the transcript and full show notes at: And support the show on Patreon. The Meigs Monorail The diagrams above are taken from this book by Meigs about his monorail system, and the photographs are via Historic New England. The 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. Early Aeronauts A modern crew attempts to recreate Bostonian John Jeffries’ maiden voyage across the English Channel. John Quincy Adams records the difficulties Jeffries encountered. Blanchard’s first flight in the US. An almost certainly fake account of a balloon ascent in Boston in 1790. The first balloon ascent in Boston leads to the first aviation lawsuit in Massachusetts. A newspaper account of Charles Durant’s first ascent from Boston in 1834. Irish actor Tyrone Power describes an ascent by Durant. Durant’s memorable final flight from Boston on September 13, 1834. The oldest surviving aerial photo is taken of Boston in 1860. It’s now in the collection of the Met. Google Earth tips its hat to that 1860 photo. Just for fun, here are a few pictures from the time your hosts went soaring in New Hampshire, including the Boston skyline from somewhere near Salem, NH. Charles River Bridges Charlestown Fe...
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