Happy 150th Anniversary to the London Underground

150th_anniversary_of_the_tube-1010005-hp By Lisa M. Rabey
Systems and Web Librarian

In 1863, after years of development, the very first line in the London Underground went into service. Historically the New York Subway beats the Tube, as it would later became known, by almost 20 years. However, the New York Subway original configuration was to act as a long distance passenger trains and did not fully become a full subway system until the end of the 19th century. Because of this, the London Underground is recognized as the oldest, continually working subway system in the world.

In honor of the Tube’s 150th anniversary, Google put together a special Doodle for the day (see the image at the beginning). In addition, below are facts and interesting tidbits about the London Underground with additional links for more information.

  • London Underground has been known as the Tube since 1890 due to the shape of the tunnels
  • The first  line, The Metropolitan, opened on January 9, 1863
  • The Metropolitan ran for six miles, from Paddington (Bishop’s Road) and Farringdon Streets
  • The line was built using what is known as the “cut and cover” method: Streets were dug into deep trenches, the tracks were laid and a brick tunnel was built around it, with the surface of the street then repaved. This method was later abandoned in the late 19th century for being inefficient
  • During WWII, nearly 200,000 people slept in the Tube stations, using it as shelter during the Blitz
  • There are 250 miles of track, making the Tube the second largest metro system in the world
  • Every week the 400 escalators used at the stations travel the equivalent as the same distance around the world – twice
  • In 2007, over one billion travelers used the Tube in a single year
  • You can still see sections of an old Roman city wall one of the tube stations

Transport for London: History
The London underground: a condensed history
The London Underground: A History in Pictures
London Underground: 150 fascinating Tube facts


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