Beneath Cincinnati Lies an Epic Transportation Misfire

The Verge looks back on city's long-ago attempt to build a subway
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 11, 2016 3:04 PM CDT
Beneath Cincinnati Lies an Epic Transportation Misfire
The Cincinnati skyline.   (Shutterstock)

(Newser) – Quick, name some of the nation's most storied subway systems—New York, Boston, Philadelphia ... Cincinnati? Well, no on that last one. Cincinnati has no subway system. But as a story at the Verge explains, the city came oh-so-close to having one of the nation's first, and the decades-old proof still lies beneath the city's streets, a fact likely unbeknownst to most residents. "This is the city’s abandoned subway system, nearly three miles of empty tunnels and platforms now decorated in dust and graffiti," writes Andrew Hawkins. "It is a vast subterranean space that stands as a monument to one of the biggest transportation blunders of all time."

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Work began in 1916 on the system that was to have 16 miles of tunnels and 20 stations. Roughly a decade later, the money dried up and work stopped thanks to a slew of factors—a dearth of construction supplies in the aftermath of World War I; a sapping of city finances during Prohibition; byzantine local politics; and perhaps biggest of all, the arrival of the automobile. The last one looms large: "The subway wasn’t just the end of Cincinnati’s mass transportation dreams, it also marked the end of the first chapter in America’s rapid transit story," writes Hawkins. "It was the last subway project of the pre-World War II era." Click for the full story, which includes a description of the writer's trip into one of the existing tunnels. (Read more Cincinnati stories.)

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