City Island Railroad Car, c. 1910. Photo from Library Congress via Wikimedia Commons.
Imagine if New Yorkers could commute by high speed monorail? A monorail, which would have had the capability of whizzing across the country at 150 miles an hour, was proposed on a smaller scale first in New York City. Officials considered building a 200 horsepower monorail line “which would run at forty-five miles an hour, in an outlying borough.” This plan detailed in Popular Science in October 1930 would have completed the patchwork system of subways and elevated railroads that dot the outer boroughs.
In fact, a single monorail line was built in 1910 connecting City Island to the main lane of the New Haven Railroad in the Bronx but on its first trip the car jumped the tracks “and was wrecked,” reports Popular Science, because of an insufficient guide rail. The single monorail was nicknamed The Flying Lady, going over a track length of 3.2 miles. The City Island Railroad and the Pelham Park Railroad Company tried again a few months later, only to hit a car causing injuries to the driver and passenger in the car.
Interior of City Island Railroad Car, c. 1910. Photo from Library Congress via Wikimedia Commons.
A working monorail did show up at the 1964 World’s Fair, as you can see in these photographs, using the suspended system where the tracks were above the cars. Note, the image in the article above was from a demonstration in Scotland.
With perennial calls for new forms of mass transit in the outer boroughs, we wonder if an overhead monorail (which according to the article is the only type of monorail to demonstrate success) will one day make an appearance in New York City.
Next, read about 10 other crazy architectural plans that never came to be in NYC. This article also written by @untappedmich.