150 Years Of Riding In A Hole In The Ground

“A subterranean railway under London was awfully suggestive of dank, noisome tunnels buried many fathoms deep beyond the reach of light or life; passages inhabited by rats, soaked with sewer drippings, and poisoned by the escape of gas mains. It seemed an insult to common sense to suppose that people who could travel as cheaply on the outside of a Paddington bus would prefer, as a merely quicker medium, to be driven amid palpable darkness through the foul subsoil of London.”
 — The first stretch of London’s Metropolitan Line opened on January 9th, 1863. That’s 150 years ago today, which, if you’ve been on an A train here in New York recently, seems more or less contemporary. It’s the oldest underground public transportation system in the world. The editorial board at the Times of London didn’t like the idea at the time. (Subscription required.)