Conquering Gotham: A Gilded Age Epic: the Construction of Penn Station and Its Tunnels (英語) CD – Audiobook, CD, Unabridged
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“Superb. [A] first-rate narrative” (The Wall Street Journal) about the controversial construction of New York’s beloved original Penn Station and its tunnels, from the author of Eiffel's Tower and Urban Forests
As bestselling books like Ron Chernow's Titan and David McCullough's The Great Bridge affirm, readers are fascinated with the grand personalities and schemes that populated New York at the close of the nineteenth century. Conquering Gotham re- creates the riveting struggle waged by the great Pennsylvania Railroad to build Penn Station and the monumental system of tunnels that would connect water-bound Manhattan to the rest of the continent by rail. Historian Jill Jonnes tells a ravishing tale of snarling plutocrats, engineering feats, and backroom politicking packed with the most colorful figures of Gilded Age New York.
Conquering Gotham will be featured in an upcoming episdoe of PBS's American Experience. --このテキストは、ペーパーバック版に関連付けられています。
Praise for Conquering Gotham
“In the tradition of David McCullough’s narratives of the Brooklyn Bridge and the Panama Canal . . . Intelligent history about building an indispensable part of our infrastructure.”
—Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
“Superb . . . [A] first-rate narrative.”
—The Wall Street Journal
“A readable and human account of how a few visionaries from the Pennsylvania Railroad connected the rest of the country to the nation’s greatest port, and how their Philadelphia-centric perspective doomed the world’s greatest train station.”
—The New York Times
“Impeccably researched and ravishingly detailed . . . delightful popular history.”
—San Francisco Chronicle
“Lush and lovely prose.”
—The Baltimore Sun
“Conquering Gotham is a well-written and well-researched account of an astoundingly ambitious undertaking. Ms. Jonnes skillfully weaves together the multifarious aspects of the project, from the technical complexities and political wrangling to the personalities of Cassatt and McKim.”
—New York Observer
“What’s clear from her riveting story is that it was every bit as hard to build great projects then as now—perhaps even harder.”
—New York Post
“New York City’s Pennsylvania Station’s sweeping story, involving engineering challenges, an inflexibly honest corporation leader, flexibly corrupt politicians, and street-level sociology, comes together marvelously in Jonnes’ admiring history of the undertaking.”
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For decades, the leaders of the Pennyslvania Railroad had tried to come up with a way to bring their trains into Manhattan. A bridge over the Hudson was designed and then abandoned for lack of financial support from other railroads. A brilliant visionary, Alexander Cassatt, as President of the Pennsylvania convinced the board of directors on a great gamble: to invest millions in the building of tunnels under the Hudson, erection of a great station in Manhattan and extending the tunnels across the Manhattan and the East River to Long Island.
The stories are of the herculean engineering effort involved in designing and constructing the tunnels, since none that long had ever been attempted; the problems of dealing with the Democrat Party's corrupt Tammany political machine; the design and construction of the iconic Penn Station; Teddy Roosevelt's campaign against trusts and big business and more.
In short, Jonnes's history is epic because her subjects are epic.
Jonnes has a good writing style; she is able to breathe life into some relatively obscure subjects and does well at attempting to convey the nature of life in the early 20th Century.
None of us will ever be able to visit Penn Station and appreciate that it was designed to be a monument, not a structure that was destroyed a mere half-century after it was built. Few of us will ever be able to appreciate just how important passenger railroads were at one time and fewer still will ever experience the thrill of cross-country travel on a first-class train. Probably none of us or very few will ever experience performing manual labor a hundred feet beneath the surface of a roiling river when labor relations were considered a matter strictly between the laborer and his employer.
Jonnes does a marvelous job of bringing all this to a reasonable semblance of life. It is a wonderful history from a time when technologies we take for granted now were still new and men thought they could acheive anything and believed that the future would be a better place.
The majesty of the tunnel undertakings should have been the centerpiece of the story. The effort in the book clearly went into retracing the intrigues surroundinging the graft-ridden political machinery the PRR had to overcome. So, for visual support, we are treated to a number of head- and group shots of the principals, in and out of business meetings, and nostalgic scenes of congested New York streets and waterways. Where are the detailed descriptions, maps and diagrams that flesh out the real story - the mastery of tunnel construction in an unstable footing?
Jonnes has a long way to go to approach the narrative skills of David McCullough in "The Great Bridge," "The Johnstown Flood," or "The Path Between the Seas."
Railroad: it's leaders, planners and civil engineers and rank in file, arguably one of the greatest corporations in American history.