The purpose of London’s first subway was to allow trains to come close to the city center.
On this day in 1863, the first underground railway in history was opened. It was built in London and connected the City of London to Paddington Railway Station just north of the famous Hyde Park. That first subway in the world was called the Metropolitan Railway (abbreviated Met), and planning for its construction went back to the 1850s.
The purpose of that first subway was to allow trains to come close to central London. Namely, almost all the former railway stations were quite far from the City of London, which created traffic problems when a large number of arriving passengers had to enter London on foot or by horse-drawn car after leaving the railway stations (at that time there were no cars ). Because it was a populated area of London, it was not easy to make an overhead rail as it would have to pass through a built up urban area. It was therefore decided to put the new rail line to the city center underground.
An underground line opened today has allowed a large number of passengers arriving from the west by train to Smithfield Market near London City (the station closest to central London was only a ten-minute walk from the famous St Paul’s Cathedral in London).
By comparison, by the time London got that first underground line, the Americans were still fighting Indians in the Wild West, and the North and South were fighting each other in the Civil War (southern states still persisted in slavery).