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Download Conquering Gotham: A Gilded Age Epic: The Construction of Penn Station and Its Tunnels Audiobook

Extended Audio Sample Conquering Gotham: A Gilded Age Epic: The Construction of Penn Station and Its Tunnels Audiobook, by Jill Jonnes Click for printable size audiobook cover
3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 3.00 (204 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Jill Jonnes Narrator: David Drummond Publisher: Tantor Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date: May 2007 ISBN: 9781400174362
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The demolition of Penn Station in 1963 destroyed not just a soaring neoclassical edifice but also a building that commemorated one of the last century’s great engineering feats—the construction of railroad tunnels into New York City. Now in this gripping narrative, Jill Jonnes tells this fascinating story—a high-stakes drama that pitted the money and will of the nation’s mightiest railroad against the corruption of Tammany Hall, the unruly forces of nature, and the machinations of labor agitators.

In 1901 the president of the Pennsylvania Railroad, Alexander Cassatt, determined that it was technically feasible to build a system of tunnels connecting Manhattan to New Jersey and Long Island. Confronted by payoff-hungry politicians, brutal underground working conditions, and disastrous blowouts and explosions, it would take him nearly a decade to make Penn Station and its tunnels a reality. Set against the bustling backdrop of Gilded Age New York, Conquering Gotham will enthrall fans of David McCullough’s The Great Bridge and Ron Chernow’s Titan.

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Quotes & Awards

  • “A human account of how a few visionaries from the Pennsylvania Railroad connected the rest of the country to the nation’s greatest port, and how their Philadelphia-centric perspective doomed the world’s largest train station.”

    New York Times

  • “Lush and lovely prose.”

    Baltimore Sun

  • “In the tradition of David McCullough’s narrative of the Brooklyn Bridge…Intelligent history about building an indispensable part of our infrastructure.”

    Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

Listener Opinions

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Andrew Gounardes | 2/12/2014

    " Fantastic story - especially if you are interested in NYC history. I never knew the story behind Penn Station and it was fascinating to read about it. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Michael | 2/9/2014

    " Interesting...but not a great read. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Rachelle | 1/24/2014

    " Much more of a page-turner than you would expect from the subject. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Chad | 1/23/2014

    " This book covers the the epic trials faced by the PRR when building Penn stations and it's associated tunnels in NYC. Jonnes brings to life the assortment of colorful railroad barons, Tammany bosses, politicians, engineers and others involved in this massive construction effort. The biggest to date on American soil and the building of the longest sub-aqueous tunnels at that time. Tunnels that are still in use today I might add. Makes on feel sorry for the loss of such a great building from the NYC landscape (replaced by the awful current incarnation of Madison Square Garden). "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Rich Merritt | 1/17/2014

    " Excellent! Writing was solid and flowed. History is fascinating. Really came alive. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Jenn | 1/14/2014

    " got a bit distracted and didn't finish it "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Delania | 1/8/2014

    " Interesting for those in urban planning. Often a very technical read. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Abbieprime | 1/7/2014

    " Inspiring and depressing all at once, and makes my daily commute through Penn feel a bit like walking through a cemetary. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Hardeep | 1/7/2014

    " I liked this book a lot- quite an interesting history of rails in the US! "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Diana | 1/3/2014

    " An interesting study of both technical and political challenges in building tunnels under the Hudson to bring the Pennsylvania railroad into New York City. Includes photos and drawings from the excavation and building of the tunnels and Penn Station. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Blane Mccurdy | 12/24/2013

    " I really liked this book. Great insite into the efforts of some amazing people who acheived a impossible task. Great detail and characters. This era in New York was unknown to me and I couldn't put it down. The tunnels and the Penn Station mus have really been something to see. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Tom | 12/21/2013

    " Rather dry, almost textbook-like telling of larger than life personalities and world-leading engineering that resulted in the "sub-aqueous tube tunnel" that went under the Hudson River to reach Manhattan at the start of the 19th Century. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Perry Benson | 11/14/2013

    " A little TOO MUCH DETAIL about political meetings, etc. but an amazing account about an amazing engineering feat. Also lots of important Philadelphia connections. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Elizabeth | 11/6/2013

    " Okay, I love New York City history. This story of Penn Station and the tunnels from New Jersey to that station is fascinating. Those tunnels...ooo boy, I'm never driving in them again...they'll never work. If you love NYC and history in general, you'll love it. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Paul Kapusky | 10/26/2013

    " Well written account of gilded age architectural treasure Penn Station in NYC. Torn down in the Sixties to make way for Madison Sq. Garden. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Drew | 7/22/2013

    " Did you know that as of 1900 the only way to get across the Hudson River to Manhattan was by Ferry? This book tells the story of Penn Station and the building of the underwater tunnels to Manhattan. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Martin Kilkenny | 8/5/2012

    " Excellent. My third book of hers this summer....a great read. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Gail | 7/2/2012

    " This bio of Penn Station and the Penn RR Tunnels focused more on the influential men who made it happen than the engineering involved or the workers who created it. A decent read but disappointing. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Heather | 5/14/2011

    " A fascinating look into the building of Penn Station and especially the challenges of building tunnels under the Hudson and East Rivers. I only wish I had had an opportunity to see Penn Station in all it's grandeur. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Rebecca | 10/8/2010

    " WOW What a horrible mistake taking down this beautiful building. I would have given anything to walk though it. But they did not know what they were doing. Still to this day there are sculptures in the river by Giants stadium.Great read if you love New York history. "

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About the Author

Jill Jonnes is a historian and the author of Empires of Light: Edison, Tesla, Westinghouse, and the Race to Electrify the World and South Bronx Rising: The Rise, Fall & Resurrection of an American City. She has also been an NEH scholar and has received several grants from the Ford Foundation.

About the Narrator

David Drummond has made his living as an actor for over twenty-five years, appearing on stages large and small throughout the country and in Seattle, Washington, his hometown. He has narrated over thirty audiobooks, in genres ranging from current political commentary to historical nonfiction, fantasy, military, thrillers, and humor. He received an AudioFile Earphones Award for his first audiobook, Love ’Em or Lose ’Em: Getting Good People to Stay. When not narrating, he keeps busy writing plays and stories for children.