Most major cities have subway systems--New
York, LA, Chicago, Washington. In the early years of the twentieth century,
when the river trade was flourishing and it ranked in the top ten largest
cities in the nation, Cincinnati decided to build one for itself. The major
impetus was the draining of the Miami and Erie Canal, along which the subway
would be built.
The idea really originated in 1884, when the Cincinnati Graphic printed an
illustration showing trains chugging along underground, in an old canal bed
covered with a new street. After their remarkably brief golden era, canals
quickly became even more of a nuisance than they had been when they were
bringing in trade. Many were partially drained; whatever water there was ended
up breeding mosquitoes and disease. The muddy canal bottoms were used as refuse
dumps. Since the Miami & Erie cut right through the heart of the city, it
was a particular eyesore in Cincinnati.
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