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The early New York subway was a giant vacuum tube

Will Gleason
Written by
Will Gleason

If an early concept for the New York subway had panned out, we could all be zipping around the city today in mini Hyperloops.

In the 1870s, NYC briefly experimented with underground pneumatic transport. The underground tubes were similar to what you might find at a drive-through bank today. A prototype of the tube was even built along Broadway that curious New Yorkers could try out for themselves. 

Vox ran a video this week going a bit deeper into the history of pneumatic tubes in the country—including their use in communications and medicine that you can watch below.

For a more detailed look at the experimental pneumatic subway, which ran in NYC from 1870 to 1873, check out the sketches below from the New York Public Library's Digital Archive.

Things look a bit different from your average L train commute today (except for the facial hair.)

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