fact that because beauty is in itself the highest and finest kind of morality so in its essence must it be true.” His opinions, even if a little arrogant, were confirmed by the great Dutch architect H. P. Berlage, who spoke of the Larkin Building to attentive European audiences. To call it Wright’s magnum opus (exclaimed Berlage) “was not to say enough.” It was a building without equal in Europe, and there was “no office building [there] with the same monumental power.”

The Larkin Company went into decline in the 1930s, and within a decade its world-famous Administration Building was being used as a showroom. In 1949–1950, for “mysterious and untraceable reasons,” it was pointlessly demolished, brick by brick. Today, only a single pier remains—the site was never redeveloped but used as a parking lot—and in 1997 the outline of the building’s footprint was painted where once stood one of the most important achievements of twentieth-century architecture.

See also

Frederick C. Robie House

Further reading

Blake, Peter. 1964. Frank Lloyd Wright: Architecture and Space. Baltimore: Penguin.

Quinan, Jack. 1987. Frank Lloyd Wright’s Larkin Building, Myth and Fact. New York: Architectural History Foundation; Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.

Wright, Frank Lloyd. 1994. Frank Lloyd Wright: The Early Work of the Great Architect. New York: Gramercy Books.

London Underground


London’s underground railroad system, popularly known as “the Tube,” is the oldest in the world. As early as the 1830s Charles Pearson, the city of London’s solicitor, suggested that the mainline stations could be linked by an underground railroad with as many as eight tracks. Despite the potential economic and social advantages of the scheme, it could find no financial backing, and Parliament refused to approve it. The city’s first above-ground passenger service was the London and Greenwich line, opened in February 1836. Within four years it was carrying nearly 6 million passengers annually between the major mainline train stations on the borders of the metropolis and the edge of the central business district. With an area of 60 square miles (154 square kilometers) and a population of 2.5 million, Greater London was then the world’s largest city, and the most crowded, plagued by street congestion.

To find a solution to a worsening problem, the City Terminus Company (CTC) revived the underground railroad idea in 1852 and placed it before Parliament, only to again fail. The following year the Bayswater, Paddington, and Holborn Bridge Railway Company submitted a plan for a different line, ostensibly at half the cost. Parliament endorsed the North Metropolitan line in 1853, and the company promptly had the CTC line approved as part of its own. The Great Western Railway Company agreed to finance construction of the underground in return for direct access to the city. In 1854 an act of Parliament was obtained to begin the Metropolitan Railroad. A sum of £1 million was raised by December 1859, and the following February the first shafts were sunk. The earliest tunnels were made by the “cut and cover” method: a deep trench would be excavated, side walls and roof built, and the ground surface backfilled. The process was expensive and slow, and it created chaos along the route of the railroad, not least of which was the dispossession of citizens and the demolition of buildings, often the homes of the poor. The first trial run was on 24 May 1862, and on 10 January 1863 the Metropolitan Railway opened, the world’s first underground line, between Bishop’s Road, Paddington, and Farringdon Street. There were 38,000 passengers on that first day, and from that moment the London Underground began to grow. In 1868 the first section of the Metropolitan District Railroad from South Kensington to Westminster was opened.

It was soon realized that, a citywide underground network must eventually pass beneath the River Thames. “Cut and cover” methods would not be appropriate to build such lines, but an “old” technology was already in place. Completed in 1843, Marc and Isambard Brunel’s Thames Tunnel had been dug using the former’s tunneling shield, patented in 1818. The machine had been improved in fifty years, and the engineer James Henry Greathead finally built a