Transportation Tuesday – Humans in Pneumatic Tubes!

Dr. V sent me a link to a CNN article on Elon Musk’s new transportation adventure, supporting ET3 in creating the Hyperloop – a transcontinental pneumatic tube that will deliver you from New York to Los Angeles in 45 minutes.

Beach’s Pneumatic Subway. Photo: Wiki

Alfred Ely Beach tried this idea back in late 1860s under Broadway in New York. A single car was propelled along the track by a giant fan. The one-block operation was to demonstrate the possibilities, but the project ended there.

The Hyperloop would rely on magnetic levitation and vacuum sealed tubes. The project touts that it could build the whole system for a fraction of a traditional high speed rail system. Matt Novak at Paleofuture points out the reality of building such a system across the US: that creating tubes on upright supports across the nation is no easy feat through the existing urban landscapes. The system, promising speeds of 4,000 mph, can also not have any sharp turns. Tunneling the project would negate the savings on the technology.

But we need to keep thinking big, rather than treading water. Transportation makes us happen as a culture. Fast transit could turn our cities more into neighborhoods of each other. Affordability remains the linch pin.


About Becky Fifield

Becky Fifield is a cultural heritage professional with 25 years experience in institutions large and small. She is currently Head of Collection Management for the Special Collections of the New York Public Library. An advocate for preventive conservation, Ms. Fifield is a Professional Associate of the American Institute for Conservation, Chair of the AIC Collection Care Network, and former Chair of Alliance for Response NYC. She is also a scholar of 18th century female unfree labor and dress. There's a bit of pun in the title The Still Room, delineating a quiet space brimming with the ingredients of memory, where consideration, analysis, and wordcraft can take place. Ms. Fifield’s interests include museum practice, dress history, historic preservation, transit, social and women’s history, food, current events, geneaology, roadtrips, and considerations on general sense of place. Becky and her husband, Dr. V, live in the Hudson Valley.