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by Jacob Marmor (pseudonym)

Friday, July 11, 1941

in What's New In Town

W. J. Sidis


        The Cambridge Subway is the fastest local rapid transit line in America. The stretch from Park Street to Harvard Square, a bit under four miles, is done in about seven and a half minutes when traffic is not heavy. In the “straightaway” between Kendall Station and the curve under Lafayette Square, train speed reaches over 45 miles per hour. The ride, however, is smooth enough that passengers do not get the sensation of extraordinary speed. This is in notable contrast to New York, where subway cars are so old that they give an earthquake sensation, and passengers on slow trains think they are racing along.


        On the continent of North America there is just one natural east-and-west transcontinental route. The Mohawk Valley is the only convenient breach in the eastern mountain range (except the St. Lawrence River, heading much farther north); the only convenient pass through the Rockies is along the same line; and so is the narrow space between Great Lakes and Mississippi Valley. This natural trail, a main line of transcontinental communication, has been used by Indian runners, by covered wagons, by stage coaches, by railroads and by buses, with little alteration. Great cities such as Albany, Rochester, Buffalo, Cleveland, Chicago, Omaha, and Salt Lake have grown up in its path. The western terminal is at San Francisco Bay; the east end of the trail is on the Mishawum peninsula (now Charlestown), and is approximately marked by City Square in that section of Boston.


        That Libyan town of Derna, that has been figuring so much in war news of late, has a Boston street named after it. The place was captured in 1804 by an American expedition which set out over the desert from Alexandria with a claimant to the Tripolitan throne. Having set him up, America was able to conclude a treaty ending Tripolitan polcy―and held on to the port of Derna for over ten years. The street in back if the State House commemorates these events―but, the way it is pronounced, the street name Derne Street sounds like swearing.


        Boston has nearly twice as many local transit routes, in relation to its population, than any other large city in America.


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