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Sam Roberts

Transportation Nation

How Grand Central Terminal Transformed America

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Grand Central Depot, completed in 1871


New York's Grand Central Terminal turns 100 this year. But when it opened, "it was neither grand nor central," said writer Sam Roberts, the author of Grand Central: How a Train Station Transformed America. He talked about the origins of the iconic transit hub on Wednesday's Leonard Lopate Show -- and how it wound up transforming Midtown, spurring the growth of the suburbs, and even contributing to westward expansion.

But its origins were rooted in Cornelius Vanderbilt's competitive streak, said Roberts. The man known as "The Commodore" had taken control of the New York Central Railroad ("ruthlessly," said Roberts, "in the way robber-barons did in that day").  Meanwhile, Penn Station was being built on the other side of town by the rival Pennsylvania Railroad company, and the Vanderbilts "wanted to say 'we have the best and biggest railroad terminal in the world,'" said Roberts.

"They didn't own the land, but they did own the New York State Legislature," he added, "which made it a lot easier."

Grand Central (photo by Charlie Herman/WNYC)

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The Empire

Sheldon Silver doesn't like professors with cookie-cutter districts

Monday, January 24, 2011

It's not that Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver expressed support for non-partisan redistricting that's so interesting in this interview with Sam Roberts, but the caveat that he attaches to it.

"To send a few professors out with a cookie-cutter and just have them plop districts down as they see fit, i don't think serves the people of this state. It doesn't serve the people of my community, especially with interpretations of the Civil Rights law, as they are now."

Silver also lays out a compromise on disclosing outside sources of income, and offers and complex view on the commuter tax.

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The Empire

The official vote in NYC was...

Friday, December 03, 2010

Slightly higher for Cuomo, and Carl Paladino, says Sam Roberts:

According to the preliminary returns in the race for governor on election night, Andrew M. Cuomo, the Democrat, had 901,640 votes in the city. His official total, including paper ballots, was 1,097,792, or 196,152 more votes. The citywide count for his Republican opponent, Carl P. Paladino, increased to 212,423 from 191,652 on Nov. 2 in the official recount.

A final count by the NYC Board of elections found 195,000 more votes than were acknowledged on Election Night. Roberts notes "the additional votes did not change the outcome in any race."

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