A few months ago I was invited to come speak to the annual conference of APTA, or American Public Transportation Association. On Tuesday that day came and it was a terrific event, at the Grand America Hotel in Salt Lake City.
A quick word about the hotel. Uh, wow. The Grand America was built specifically as part of the city’s hosting of the 2002 Winter Olympics, and it’s a 5-star hotel. Every corner glistens, a harpist plays in the lobby while guests sip their cocktails or tea while munching on scones, and the courtyard beckons, with spectacular views at every turn of the surrounding mountains.
I got out a few times to take in some of Salt Lake. A few highlights included dinner at Squatters, where the burger smothered in bourbon-soaked grilled onions was awesome, breakfast at Eva’s Bakery, which had great muffins, and lastly, I snuck in a few runs. One was a 4-miler over to Liberty Park, which had a nice soft wood chip path that was easy on my tired legs after a long flight, and the other was a brutal climb up into Memory Grove canyon.
I really wanted to get up high to look back over the city and mountains and this was the way to do it, even it meant a little bit of a run-walk. The view was spectacular, looking back on the skyline and the towering Church of Latter Day Saints building. The conference itself was beautifully run and smooth sailing for me.
My talk came at the big luncheon Tuesday and I was on stage with a Bostonian and New Yorker to add a fun element to the whole affair. The Bostonian was Robert Prince, a former MBTA general manager now with AECOM, and the New Yorker was Chris Boylan, a deputy executive director at the New York Metropolitan Transit Authority. They came out with boxing gloves on and we had a ball on stage in front of about 1200 transit executives and officials from around the country.
A final shout to a wonderful local bookstore, Weller Book Works and Catherine Weller, who showed up and sold a few hundred books and helped me get them all signed. Lastly, KellyAnne Gallagher from the organization, APTA, put together a great show. It was a whirlwind 24 hours, in and out, but worth every minute.
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This is exciting stuff. The Massachusetts Book Awards have been announced and ‘The Race Underground’ was named one of the five must-reads of 2015. It’s a terrific list to be a part of and news like this never gets old — even 18 months after the hardcover came out, and 4 months after the paperback!
Michael Blanding, The Map Thief (Gotham Books)
Michael M. Greenburg, The Court-Martial of Paul Revere (ForeEdge)
Fred Kaplan, John Quincy Adams (Harper)
Elizabeth Kolbert, The Sixth Extinction (Henry Holt)
Doug Most, The Race Underground: Boston, New York, and the Incredible Rivalry that Built America’s First Subway (St Martin’s)
Jennifer Taub, Other People’s Houses (Yale UP)
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I have an event coming April 29 I am especially excited about.
In writing “The Race Underground” I built up my own mini-library at home, with approximately 50 to 60 books. Some I only cracked once or twice, others I opened a dozen times, and then there were those that were kept open constantly on my desk. By the time I was done writing, so many pages had been dog-eared, and the cover so tattered, it looked like the book had been through the washing machine.
That was my experience with “Gotham“, the Pulitzer Prize-winning tome by Mike Wallace and Edwin Burrows. It’s an amazing account of the city’s history up to the year 1898, so rich in detail and narrative storytelling it’s easy to forget just how long it is (oh, about 1,500 pages!).
On April 29, from 6:30-8 p.m., I’ll be speaking and signing copies of ‘The Race Underground’ at the Gotham Center for New York City History, which was founded by Wallace back in 2000. From their website, here are the details:
The Race Underground: Boston, New York, and the Incredible Rivalry That Built America’s First Subway
Wednesday, April 29, 6:30-8 PM
In the 19th century, cities like Boston and New York grew congested with plodding, horse-drawn carts. When the great blizzard of 1888 crippled the entire northeast, a solution had to be found. Two brothers from one of the nation’s great families—Henry Melville Whitney of Boston and William Collins Whitney of New York—pursued the dream of digging America’s first subway, and the race was on. Doug Most chronicles the story, as exciting as any ripped from the pages of history. The Race Underground is a great American saga of two rival American cities, their rich, powerful, and sometimes corrupt interests, and an invention that changed the lives of millions.
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