Probably one of the most signature things about New York is its subways. Many musicians have written cheesy songs about them, and they’ve been seen in countless movies. Well, how exactly did all of this come to be?

One man’s vision

Inventor Alfred Ely Beach was born in a place New Yorkers despise: Massachusetts. Despite his place of birth, he was very fond of New York City. After seeing constant traffic problems in the area, he decided to create an alternate way to travel. In 1870, he opened the Beach Pneumatic Transit in New York City. This was the first time anyone has made an attempt of an underground transit system in the region.

Alfred Ely Beach

Unfortunately, it shut down after three years. While it was a failure, many saw this as a blueprint for something bigger.

Expanding on a good idea

Following the intense blizzard in 1888, plans were approved to create an underground system. Looking at Beach’s invention, they knew one thing had to be improved. Beach’s system only had one stop and one car. While it did earn 400,000 rides in its first year, many people were upset that it didn’t go any further.

Stuff Nobody Cares About

Construction on this new system started in 1900. Around spring of 1904, things were complete.

The first ride

On October 27, 1904, the subway was finally ready for the general public. Before the citizens can use it, Mayor George McClellan decided to take it for a swing. The subway ran from City Hall to Harlem with numerous stops along the way. That day, the subway transferred 100,000 people to their destination of choice.

 The Verge

Unfortunately, Beach didn’t get to see his vision become bigger; he passed away on January 1, 1896. Today, there are 27 lines in the NYC subway. That’s plenty of cars filled with dancers, hustling musicians, and loud rappers. Back then, however, it was filled with comfort knowing you won’t hear someone horribly sing “Give My Regards to Broadway.”