Letters to the Editor

Posted: February 01, 2013

Grand engineer behind it all

How sad that an article celebrating the 100th anniversary of Grand Central Station in Manhattan fails to mention the engineering genius who conceived and carried out its construction. ("Grand, indeed; A railroad station celebrates a century," Jan 27) The many innovations attributed to architect Whitney Warren, in fact, were the brainchild of Col. William J. Wilgus.

Wilgus, New York Central Railroad's vice president and chief engineer, had an inspired vision of an underground electrified terminal. His proposal required blasting deep holes in the granite schist in order to build two levels of underground track and a massive loop to enable trains to quickly turn around.

In addition, realizing electric trains did not require ventilation as did the steam engines they replaced, Wilgus suggested that, by selling the air rights to real estate developers for offices or a hotel, the revenues could help finance the project. Thus, that real estate concept was invented.

Additionally, along with Frank J. Sprague, Wilgus invented the third rail as part of the project. (As for the use of ramps, instead of steps, that was the suggestion of Wilgus' wife, May Reed Wilgus, who was an invalid.)

Two books have been written in celebration of Grand Central's centennial. Grand Central's Engineer, William J. Wilgus and the Planning of Modern Manhattan, by Kurt C. Schlichting, is informative and fascinating, and Grand Central: How a Train Station Transformed America, by Sam Roberts, is due to be published soon.

Kay Reed, Newtown

Medicaid expansion a good deal

If Pennsylvania opts to participate in the Affordable Care Act Medicaid expansion so that 613,000 low-income people receive health coverage next year, the state will receive $17 billion in federal funds - in return for $1 billion in state costs over six years. That's a 16-to-1 federal-state match. Is there any business that wouldn't jump at this rate of return?

Stephen Gold, Philadelphia

Kyoto climate treaty was hobbled

George Will says that the Kyoto Protocol failed and was an absurd approach ("Better days will return," Jan. 27). Well, why did the approach fail?

It seems that the United States signed the treaty, but never ratified it. Gee, you mean the world's biggest producer of greenhouse gases refused to join a treaty meant to limit greenhouse gases and, somehow, we're supposed to conclude that such treaties are unworkable? No, the Kyoto approach is not unworkable. It was just never seriously tried.

Richmond L. Gardner, Horsham, rlg3526@ix.netcom.com

That sandwich is no ruler

Of all the stupid lawsuits, the one over a Subway "footlong" sandwich may be the worst. Who cares if it only measures 11 inches? Does that make it inedible? What damages does one sustain? Fewer calories?

The answer for people who are unhappy with a product is to stop buying it. If enough people stop buying it, maybe the company will notice and actually change the product. But no, let's sue, and maybe gain some fame on the Internet. I hope no judge will allow this suit. But who knows? There may be one out there who also is starved for attention.

Joe Orenstein, Philadelphia, Joe4189@verizon.net

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