The Dual Contracts

From nycsubway.org

Between 1910 and 1920, the City, along with the IRT and BMT companies, undertook a massive construction project known as the Dual Contracts. These contracts provided for the expansion of the subway and elevated networks to open up areas of the city without transit service. Typical of the Dual Contracts subway station design was intricate mosaic tiling, such as this at 1st Avenue on the Canarsie line. Photo by Roberto Tobar.

Major Documents

The Dual System of Rapid Transit (1912)
A 1912 description of the Dual Contracts expansion published by the Public Service Commission.

New Subways for New York: The Dual System of Rapid Transit (1913)
A 1913 guide to the Dual Systems period of subway expansion, by the New York City Public Service Commission. Outlines the Dual System plans, routes and stations of the new lines, contract costs, etc. (6 chapters)

The New York Rapid Transit Railway Extensions (1914)
A series of articles published by Engineering News in 1914 detailing various aspects of the construction of the Dual Contracts subway lines. (12 chapters)

Fifty Years of Rapid Transit (1918)
This 1918 book by James Blaine Walker details the politics behind the development of New York's elevated lines, its first subway, and the Dual Contracts.

Transit Truths (1924)
In 1924, B.M.T. Chairman Gerhard M. Dahl published this book (an expansion of the above articles "Build More Transit Lines" and "Rush Hour Relief For Passengers") as propaganda in the fight to get Mayor Hylan to expand transit lines in New York City.

The Steinway Tunnels (1960)
This 1960 article from the ERA details the history of the Steinway Tunnel: Ground broken in 1892, and not used for subway service until 1915, this tunnel was an important link in the Queens portion of the Dual Contracts.

Histories and Memoirs

Me and the BMT, A Memoir
Noted transit historian (and frequent contributor of photos to this website) Brian J. Cudahy has contributed this personal memoir and recollections of growing up riding the BMT in Brooklyn. Thanks go out to Brian for letting nycsubway.org host this work!

News Articles

Short period news articles (1910-1919) about the construction and operation of the Dual Contracts subway lines, from the Public Service Record, New York Times, and elsewhere pertaining to the Dual Contracts subway lines.

General Articles

A New Subway Line for New York City, The Triborough System: Its History (1910)
Engineering News, March 10, 1910. A 1910 report on the so-called Tri-borough system, which was the genesis of the Dual Contracts. The Tri-borough plan included the Centre Street, Lexington Avenue, and the Fourth Avenue (Brooklyn) subway lines.

The Subway Problem (1911)
William Gibbs McAdoo's 1911 offer to build the Triborough System.

Two Lines of the Dual System in Operation (Fourth Avenue Subway and Queensboro Subway) (1915)
Public Service Record, June, 1915.

Brooklyn Approaches to Downtown Tubes (1917)
Public Service Record, November, 1917.

The Design of Subways (1918)
Public Service Record, October-November, 1918.

Mayor Hylan Held Responsible for New York's Subway Ills (1925)
Electric Railway Journal editorial criticizing Hylan and the Board of Estimate for problems completing the new subway lines of the Dual Contracts.

Build More Transit Lines -- Rush Hour Relief for Passengers... (1924)
Two 1924 articles about the need for completion of the 14th St.-Eastern (Canarsie) and Nassau St. lines, and overcrowding on the Williamsburg Bridge routes.

BMT 4th Avenue Line

Brooklyn's Subway Will Open Today (Fourth Ave. Line) (1915)
New York Times, June 19 & June 20, 1915.

The Fourth Avenue Subway in Brooklyn (1915)
Public Service Record, June, 1915.

BMT Broadway Line

Last Down-town Tunnel Holed Through (Whitehall-Montague Street Tunnel) (1917)
Public Service Record, July, 1917.

Broadway Subway Now Open (1917)
Public Service Record, September, 1917.

Opening of the Broadway Subway (1918)
New York Times, January 1, 1918.

Broadway Subway Opens (1918)
Electric Railway Journal, January 12, 1918.

Broadway-Fifty-ninth Street Extension of B.R.T. Subway, Opened to Queensboro Plaza... (1920)
New Line Supplements the Existing Extension of the Interborough Subway and Affords a Direct Route Without Transfer Crosstown and Downtown From Queens Borough. (New York Times, March 16, 1919.)

Tells How It Feels to Go Up In A Geyser (1916)
Man Shot Through River Bed From [Montague Street] Tunnel Was Never Squeezed So Tightly Before. Kept His Mouth Tight Shut. Body Of Third Victim Found-- Damage To New Subway More Serious Than Was Thought. (New York Times, February 21, 1916.)

BMT Culver Line

New Rapid Transit Link in Operation (Culver Line) (1919)
New York Times, March 16, 1919.

IRT East and West Side Extensions

The Construction of the Harlem River Tubes (1915)
A 1915 description of the engineering effort involved in building the IRT West Side Line's Harlem River Tubes, with many illustrations and photographs.

Opening a New Link of New York's Vast Subway System (1918)
Scientific American, July 1918.

Opening of Seventh Avenue and Lexington Avenue Lines (1918)
Public Service Record, July, 1918.

IRT H System Opens (1918)
New York Times, August 2, 1918.

Approaching Operation of the "H" Lines/The "H" Lines In Service (1918)
Public Service Record, June-September, 1918.

H System Subway Service Started - H System Trouble (1918)
Electric Railway Journal, August, 1918.

Design of the Diagonal Station and Connection (1918)
Public Service Record, December, 1918.

The Park Place Subway Station Escalators (1919)
Scientific American, 1919.

IRT Brooklyn Line

New Clark Street Tunnel Completed... (1919)
New York Times, March 16, 1919. Also from the New York Times: Clark Street Tunnel Ready (April 11, 1919), Clark Street Tunnel Tested (April 12, 1919), Fear B.R.T. Strike- Rush Use of Tunnel (April 13, 1919), New Subway Service Between Brooklyn and Manhattan Boroughs (April 13, 1919), Open Clark Street Line (April 16, 1919), Lessens Subway Crush (April 17, 1919), Dual System is Nearly Completed (May 4, 1919).

Under-River Tunnel Headings Meet (Old Slip-Clark Street Tunnel) (1916)
Public Service Record, December, 1916.

IRT Flushing Line

Steinway Tunnel Opening (1915)
New York Times, June 20, 1915.

Important Rapid Transit Link Opened (Flushing-Ely Extension) (1916)
Electric Railway Journal, November, 1916.

IRT White Plains Road Line

Operation of the White Plains Road Line (1917)
Public Service Record, March, 1917.

IRT Woodlawn Line

Service Begun on the Jerome Avenue Line (1917)
Public Service Record, June, 1917.

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