Last month, I heard an interview on the Diane Rehm Show with Jill Jonnes about her book Conquering Gotham. The book tells the story of the Pennsylvania Railroads effort to bring rail service into Manhattan. The effort combined financial, engineering, and political challenges. The ultimate result was the construction of tunnels under the Hudson and East rivers as well as the monumental Pennsylvania Station.
I enjoyed this book on several levels. First, I enjoy reading about railroads. Another great book I'd recommend is the Nothing Like it in the World by Stephen Ambrose about the building of the transcontinental railroad. Its hard to imagine how powerful and important railroads, and their management, were at the turn of the century. The Pennsylvania Railroad was one of the largest corporations in the US at the turn of the century.
I also enjoy reading about the history of New York. I'm not sure why--I have no personal connection to New York and I've never lived there. Another book I enjoyed about New York history was The Island at the Center of the World. I also love reading Colonial American history and New York figures prominently that as well