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Beneath The Streets Of Boston: Building America's First Subway Hardcover – June 15, 2005

4.5 out of 5 stars 8 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

Grade 4-7–New England history buffs and those interested in the origins of mass transport will welcome this look at the beginnings of America's first subway. Recounting the problems of Boston's traffic congestion (wrought by the city's burgeoning population in the late 1800s), McKendry tells the story of how, in 1894, the Boston Transit Commission won its hard-fought battle to begin construction on the four-pronged public transportation system known today as the T. The text is clear and well written, and is supplemented by copies of relevant newspaper articles about the triumphs and tribulations that the project faced, as well as by several boxed inserts that describe the more personal aspects of the project, e.g., the discovery and relocation of 900 dead bodies. Sepia tones in the realistic watercolor illustrations, as well as in the maps and precise technical drawings, help to maintain a serious tone. The paintings convey the sense of story, while the drawings provide specific details. Both are equally well executed and contribute to the overall understanding of the text. The endpapers, which feature copies of actual subway signs, give another view of history. This title should be a welcome addition to New England libraries as well as to those collections that frequently circulate titles such as David Macaulay's Underground (1976) and Building Big (2000, both Houghton).–Nancy Menaldi-Scanlan, LaSalle Academy, Providence, RI
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

Gr. 3-5. New York's subway has been featured in several children's books honoring the system's 2004 centennial. Here readers will discover that Boston's subway preceded New York's by seven years. In a narrative as densely wallpapered with visuals as a Victorian-era parlor, McKendry provides insights into the worsening congestion in 1890s Boston, and highlights residents' resistance to the proposal: "I expect to be a long time underground when I am dead, but while I live I want to travel on earth, not under it." A half-subterrenean, half-elevated plan was eventually carried out, documented here in sepia-toned watercolors (many modeled on archival photographs), reprints of newspaper articles, diagrams, and discussions of the methods used by subway-building "sandhogs." Source notes and captions would have been useful, and McKendry's explanations are not as clear as those in David Macaulay's Underground (1983). Still, this will draw a large and fascinated regional audience, and the book's themes of urban development and transportation history can easily be more broadly applied. Jennifer Mattson
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved
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Product Details

  • Age Range: 9 and up
  • Grade Level: 4 and up
  • Hardcover: 48 pages
  • Publisher: David R Godine (June 15, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1567922848
  • ISBN-13: 978-1567922844
  • Product Dimensions: 0.5 x 9.2 x 11.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #259,204 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Joe McKendry is a painter and illustrator whose work has appeared in over 50 publications worldwide, including the New York Times, the London Times, Vanity Fair, Esquire, and TIME Magazine. His books, Beneath the Streets of Boston: Building America's First Subway (David R. Godine, 2005) and One Times Square: A Century of Change at the Crossroads of the World (David R. Godine, 2012), chronicle the history of their subjects in a way that is accessible to both children and adults. A native of Maynard, MA, McKendry teaches painting and illustration at the Rhode Island School of Design and lives in Brookline, MA with his wife and three kids.

Customer Reviews

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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
I lived in Boston my whole life. McKendry's book is full of information I never knew about our first subway system. The drawings are awesome. My 8 year old son who loves trains is fascinated with the book. He wants me to read it to him every night. Sometimes he just sits by himself and looks at the pictures.

I highly recommend this book both for it's information and the wonderful drawings
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I became interested in Boston's subway after reading Doug Most's "The Race Underground," an interesting but dense 400 pages about the history of Boston and NYC's subways. McKendry's book was mostly illustrations of the actual process, and they were FANTASTIC! Sometimes photographs can't illustrate a point.... they can't show cutaways or diagram exactly how the tunneling process works, etc. Yes, the text is aimed to be intelligible to young adults, but I found it readable and the pictures helped me grasp the engineering concepts behind the project. If you want a comprehensive account of the financing and personalities behind the subway, get Doug Most's book....but also get a copy of this one for its helpful illustrations.
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Format: Hardcover
In "Beneath The Streets Of Boston: Building America's First Subway", Joe McKendry presents a fascinating, informative, and superbly illustrated history of how the first city subway in America came to be built under the streets of Boston, Massachusetts in 1895. It was a massive construction project that was finally completed and open to the public on July 1, 1918. Subway systems had been built in England and Scotland, but this was the first time in an American metropolis that underground railroads were implemented to ease the transportation gridlocks and traffic jams of ground level transports. Historic photos are combined with drawings to illustrate the tasks and constructions problems that had to be solved and the men who worked to build and then operate this revolutionary system. "Beneath The Streets Of Boston" is unique and very highly recommended for school and community American Transportation History collections, and especially commended to the attention of railroading enthusiasts as well!
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By J. Perez on January 21, 2014
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
We got this for our eight year old son who loves trains, subways and cable cars. Now that he's older he appreciates the history and how things are built.
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