London Subway

The history and evolution of the London system from the 19th century to the 1990s.

The world’s oldest subway is not in New York or Paris but in London. The subway followed the development of the above-ground railway system in England and then went underground for a rapid transit system for the city long before the term rapid transit had been devised.

Historians disagree about when the first true railway was opened, but most believe it to have been the Liverpool and Manchester, opened in 1830, and linking one of Britain’s largest ports with the nation’s largest textile manufacturing center (Tames 78). The Surrey Iron Railway came in 1803 and the Stockton and Arlington in 1825 are also candidates, but the Liverpool and Manchester was the first to carry both passengers and freight solely by use of steam power. By 1850, there was a national railway network covering more than 6,000 miles and…