The Secret Subway
From an acclaimed author and a New York Times Best Illustrated artist comes the fascinating, little-known—and true!—story of New York City’s first subway.
New York City in the 1860s was a mess: crowded, disgusting, filled with garbage. You see, way back in 1860, there were no subways, just cobblestone streets. That is, until Alfred Ely Beach had the idea for a fan-powered train that would travel underground. On February 26, 1870, after fifty-eight days of drilling and painting and plastering, Beach unveiled his masterpiece—and throngs of visitors took turns swooshing down the track.
The Secret Subway will wow readers, just as Beach’s underground train wowed riders over a century ago.

The Secret Subway Details

Book TitleThe Secret Subway
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The Secret Subway Reviews

  • Damera Blincoe
    Oct 12, 2016

    Damera Blincoe

    This is a great book if you have young children that are interested in New York subways. ...

  • Richie Whitford
    Sep 21, 2016

    Richie Whitford

    The short story I chose and believe could win the award is “The Secret Subway” by Shana Corey. The story is about an artist who likes to add fantasy to inventions from the 19th century. Illustrated by Red Nose studio, the drawings in the book are the reasons I believe the boo...

  • Venus
    Sep 21, 2016


    Review originally posted on Children's Atheneum1860 New York City was a mess of crowds, garbage, and sewage. The streets were crowded and Alfred Ely Beach had an idea. Using an idea that was being used for banks, Beach had an idea to create a pneumatic (fan-powered) underground subway....

  • Samantha Zapata
    Sep 20, 2016

    Samantha Zapata

    This was by far one of the most interesting books I have ever read. The illustrations of the citizens are made out of clay with a stationary background. It gives a little section on the book jacket how they made it for the book. The book talks about how in New York in the 1860's that i...

  • Melki
    Sep 19, 2016


    Decades before work actually began on New York City's famous subway system, Alfred Ely Beach had an idea for an underground "pneumatic tube" railway. He built, and successfully demonstrated, a train that went 312 feet. Though his efforts were lauded by all who saw them, dirty politics ...

  • Laura G
    Aug 28, 2016

    Laura G

    Amazing book about Alfred Ely Beach's dreams and plans to build a much-needed underground train in NYC. The author does a great job of portraying the need for such a mode of transportation, as well as the obstacles standing in the way. I like that Beach is celebrated in this book, even...

  • Linda
    Aug 6, 2016


    Based on real events, this book's illustrations in claymation, photographs and silhouettes tell of the first subway in NYC. At the end of Civil War times, the streets of big cities like New York were filled, with people, animals and traffic. Lots of talk about elevated railways and som...

  • Annie
    Jul 24, 2016


    This was an amazing book for so many reasons. It's a great example of historical non-fiction of how Albert Beech "created" the first New York subway. Since Beech's version ultimately was not successful long-term, it's also a great example of how failures can become inspiration for othe...

  • Beverly
    Jul 19, 2016


    Reviewed for the Mock Caldecott Awards. The illustrations in this book are extremely interesting. There are hand built 3 dimensional sets that were then shot with a camera and then enhanced with ink drawings. I didn't care for the people who were odd and chunky looking but I really enj...

  • Diane
    Jul 16, 2016


    The story of Alfred Ely Beach and his plan to help solve the problems of the New York City streets by creating a way to travel underground. His idea was to use air pressure to move the cars along. Using deceit to get permission to build, he created his tunnel. And though it eventually ...