Conquering Gotham: A Gilded Age Epic: The Construction of Penn Station
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Conquering Gotham deals with the power of one man?s ultimate goal, to allow trains to make passage into the heart of New York where business thrives. It is the struggle of a man and his desire to make his dream a reality, to connect New Jersey with New York. This book is set in the 1900?s and includes many of the situations that were going on during the Gilded Age. Many of them had to do with the government and how their power influenced the business in the U.S. These things included politics, which played a major role in the fight for rights and who got what. Another is land, to receive the title to land so that things like railroad track and stations can be created. Even the working man?s problems and troubles played into factor in the extending of the Pennsylvania Railroad to the nation?s number one city.
Politics was the main source of power in the Gilded Age. If someone could talk politics, they were able to influence people in ways so that they got what they wanted. During the 1900?s this seemed to be a big deal, especially if one wanted something important affected others in a big way. This is very visible in Conquering Gotham. ?PRR president Alexander Cassatt seeks an enterprise that will forever transform the physical and psychological geography of Gotham.? Cassatt starts with looking for land to build a station on the other side of the Hudson River. He finds a suitable place near some whore houses, but the real trick is purchasing this area and building a route for trains to reach it. Alexander Cassatt had to go through one of the toughest places first to start his goal; this place was known as Tammany Hall. ?The Tammany-run New York?s most corrupt politicians and robber barons seek to derail his plans.? These politicians were against Cassatt?s vision to let the PRR connect to New York. William Croker, the main powerhouse in Tammany fought against Alexander Cassatt, but even though he was a big authoritative man, he was known to except bribes, especially those that made him richer. Cassatt would eventually take advantage of this. ?Tammany ruled the city government and its tens of thousands of jobs and the vast ocean of boodle harvested from controlling certain jobs.? A lot of money was made through this, but Cassatt thought that he could make the people sitting in Tammany a whole lot richer with his railroad plan. He fought hard and even though some bribes had to be given and tons of money had to be borrowed, the president of the PRR had his dream fulfilled but only to have it torn down later. Politics in these days always had to go through congress and government. Unless one had plenty of money and hookups from well known and powerful people, things like land was hard to come by. The battle of politics is gruesome and Cassatt, with the help of others battled ferociously. He had what it took to beat the governments system and get what he wanted most.
Land in the 1900?s was hard to acquire, especially if it was in a big urban area. Most of the land in the U.S. was taken or owned by others, so to actually find some terrain where his station could be built to welcome his railroad, Cassatt would have to persuade some high ranking powers of the system to let him get his hands on the perfect area. Finally, the PRR president found some land where he made a colossal building amongst a whore house in the lower somewhat nasty part of the city. His train station was a masterpiece, a work of art. It was huge in every way, spreading not only vertically high, but also horizontally bigger than any other. It was amazing, one of the most beautiful buildings ever made. The man behind the actual building of this was, ?Charles Follen McKim who had bequeathed in Gotham a magnificent monument, the Pennsylvania Station.? Being able to receive this land was a huge step for Cassatt and it played a big part in the completing of his perfect plan. Somehow this land seemed to be really desired by others because awhile after his railroad was complete and functioning, it was getting torn down. The Pennsylvania Station was losing money and not being well cared for, so a
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