Though not the direct ancestor of the first subway system in New York City, this pneumatic-powered train car could shuttle passengers underground for one whole block!
The inventor, Alfred Beach was an editor at Scientific American. He had the foresight to see that a growing New York City population crowding the streets would need alternative means of transport. In 1869, using advancing technologies, the Beach Pneumatic Transit Company began digging its first tunnel under Broadway between Murray and Warren Streets.
It was completed in 58 days an by the end of the year over 400,000 people had ridden the pneumatic subway.
Sadly by the time Beach received the City's permits to continue to expand the tunnel system, a stock market crisis made it impossible for Beach to continue. The tunnel was sealed. To find out who discovered it, an or more interesting details check out this article: The First Attempted New York Subway: Beach Pneumatic Transit.