Organized under the Rapid Transit Act of 1875, the Manhattan Railway Company (commonly known as the Manhattan Elevated Railway, or the ""el"") dominated public transportation in late-nineteenth-century New York City. Its four lines extended the length of Manhattan Island into the Bronx, with 334 steam locomotives carrying 1,122 passenger cars over 102 miles of track. From 1880 to 1902, more passengers traveled the el than on any other rapid transit system in the world. Frank K. Hain was vice president and general manager of the company for 16 years, during which time he confronted union organizers, horrifying accidents, and a relentless media crusade for a conversion to electric power and the establishment of a subway system. Based on Hain's experiences, this chronicle of New York's elevated steam railways illuminates an important era in transportation.
Peter Murray Hain is a retired operations and staff officer of the CIA's Clandestine Service and served in Washington, DC, Europe, and Southeast Asia. Frank Hain was a brother of the author's great-grandfather.