NEW YORK (AP) -- It's a busy weekday afternoon on the D train. Hispanic teenagers board in the Bronx, joking in Spanish. Then a stop in midtown
Manhattan sends office workers rushing aboard. The scene changes again, as the train rumbles southeast into Brooklyn: African Americans, Asians and
Russian immigrants stream in.
The D train, like its alphabetic and numeric counterparts across the city, is a cross-section of humanity -- an unwitting, usually unnoticed
celebration of a diverse city.
From the first subway trip in 1904, when a single fare cost a nickel, the trains have brought New Yorkers hip to hip and stitched together their
neighborhoods, essentially creating the city north of midtown and linking it with far-flung areas of Brooklyn, the Bronx and Queens.
Today, New York's subway has more miles of track than any underground transit system in the world and whisks 4.5 million passengers daily throughout
Dozens of exhibits, events and testimonials celebrate the subway centennial. An exhibit at the Museum of the City of New York shows off subway
photography. Other events include the crowning of "Ms. Subways" on October 25 and a "Grand Finale Jam" concert at Grand Central Terminal on
Even vintage trains will be rolled out for rides recalling earlier days of a system that, at its best, has been an example of municipal efficiency --
carrying 1.4 billion riders a year -- and, at its worst, has been a graffiti-strewn symbol of urban decay.
The inaugural trip carried then-Mayor George B. McClellan Jr. 9.1 miles from City Hall to 145th Street. "City Hall to Harlem in 15 minutes!" amazed
city fathers exclaimed.
That 1904 milestone came after workers spent four years digging tunnels 55 feet wide and 15 feet high, while pumps drew out rainwater. The system has
always been an engineering marvel. Subway lines were carved through bedrock, granite and quicksand. An innovation known as "cut and cover" allowed
streets to be excavated, tunnels constructed and streets then restored.
[edit on 27-10-2004 by elevatedone]