Charles T. Harvey
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About Charles T. Harvey, Executive Director of the Merritt Island Subway Authority

If you’ve come this far, you’re entitled the story of Merritt Island Subway Authority Executive Director Charles T. Harvey’s namesake [with apologies to Joseph Brennan, Beach Pneumatic]:

Charles_Harvey on rail1

Image above: One of the most familiar images in New York transit history depicts Harvey, engineer and entrepreneur, making a test run in December 1867. He is holding reins attached to a traveler (see below), which can just be seen peeking up from the track. 

Charles T Harvey and the cable elevated railway

Harvey rejected steam locomotives as power. Harvey developed and patented a system something like a funicular cable railway but where cars could grip or release a continuously running cable. As a company pamplet put it in 1866, During the past year one of the most successful practical engineers in this country devised a new method of attaching and propelling cars upon Railways by means of the well-known system of cables or wire rope attached to stationary engines. Hitherto no practical plan has been invented, by which cars could be stopped or started without changing the motion of the stationary engine.

The cable return is under the sidewalk rather than directly under the track as it would be later. The type of column used here would have had to be replaced or modified to make space for a return under the track, and regular cable service never ran on this segment of the line.

William Fullerton Reeves, longtime civil engineer for the elevated railway companies, wrote of Harvey, To his extensive vision, engineering skill, and indefatigable efforts the present generation should give all the credit for the first elevated railroad in the world, and the only means of rapid transit that New York City had for thirty-seven years.

Credit: Joseph Brennan, Beach Pneumatic, Alfred Beach’s Pneumatic Subway and the beginnings of rapid transit in New York, © 2004-2005, a web publication,

Site Modified May 22, 2006

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