PATH's first century saw ridership soar in the early decades, decline significantly as the motor vehicle entered its golden age, before rising again in recent decades. Like other rail lines, PATH went from private ownership to public ownership during the 20th Century. PATH's second century has begun with a Port Authority commitment for a massive reinvestment.
PATH was originally known as the Hudson and Manhattan Railroad, and later as the H&M Hudson Tubes. The railroad was first planned in 1873 to link the major railroad stations in New Jersey with New York City, but early construction was intermittent. The first trains ran in 1907 and revenue service started between Hoboken and 19th Street at midnight on February 26, 1908. On July 19, 1909, service began between Lower Manhattan and Jersey City, through a new set of tunnels located south of the first pair. After the completion of the uptown Manhattan extension to 33rd Street and the westward extension to Newark (and the now-defunct Manhattan Transfer in 1911), the Hudson and Manhattan Railroad was considered to be complete.
The construction of the Holland Tunnel, Lincoln Tunnel and the George Washington Bridge between the 1920s and 1940s led people away from the railroad and ridership declined steadily. In the 1950s, H&M fell into bankruptcy, but continued to operate. The planning of the World Trade Center enabled the Port Authority to eventually purchase and maintain the Tubes in return for the rights to build the World Trade Center on the land occupied by H&M's Hudson Terminal, the Lower Manhattan terminus of the Tubes. The Port Authority Trans-Hudson Corporation (PATH), a subsidiary organization of the Port Authority, began operation in 1962.