Alfred Ely Beach - editor of Scientific American, whose (forgotten) claim to fame was the creation of a pneumatic subway under Manhattan's City Hall that pre-dated- by about 30 years -looong before work on the subway system as it now exists was begun.Interesting that Mr. Beach had to work in (shhh!) secret, because then as now powerful monopolies- in this case the existing rail companies -would want to stop him from pioneering pneumatic travel and beating them to lucrative NYC mass transit contracts.
Buying a storefront he swore his workers to secrecy and dug from the basement removing dirt under cover of night like the P.O.W.s in 'The Great Escape'.
Beach's Pneumatic Tunnel was unveiled after it was completed and fully operational at a gala opening amid rave reviews- but the financial concerns of a crooked mayor and a market crash scuttled plans to further develop and expand this new mode of transportation.
The tunnel sealed off and it was forgotten.
Again, the same old story.
"Back in 1870 just beneath the Great White Way / Alfred Beach worked secretly / Risking all to ride a dream / His wind-machine
New York City and the Morning Sun / Were awoken by the strangest sound / Reportedly as far as Washington / The tremors shook the earth as Alfie / Blew underground
All aboard Sub-Rosa Subway / Had you wondered who's been digging under Broadway? / It's Alfred / It's Alfred / It's Alfred / Poor Al, woh no Al
As for America’s first subway / The public scoffed, “It’s far too crude” / One station filled with Victoria’s age / From frescoed walls and goldfish fountains…. / To Brahmsian tunes