Editor’s Pick
DECEMBER 5, 2010 4:39PM

Vintage Subway!

Rate: 8 Flag

When does the MTA ever make a person's day? Well, it made mine when I accidentally happened upon the holiday vintage special. Off to run errands on the Lower East Side, I was unusually lazy this morning and took the train to First Avenue. When I alighted, I spied the vintage train on the uptown platform and went over to take a look. Told it would be back for another trip in an hour-and-a-half, I ran my errands and returned in time to make the journey up Sixth to Queens Plaza and back.

According to one of the MTA guys with whom I chatted, the cars on the train were built between 1931 and 1947. Some were kind of plain, a few were exquisite, and others unexpected, but all of them were truly amazing. 

Apparently, it's tough-going to get the powers that be to run this special December train. I hope the MTA is smart enough to continue to do this, though, because in this era of continuous fare hikes and service reductions, I've never seen happier customers. Everyone was smiling, chatting, exploring, and having a good time experiencing a bit of our wonderful city's history.

Bring back the green! Chrome is fab, but I kind of dig this color.

In the 1931 car.

The conductor yells his "Stand clear of the closing doors" from between cars.

 Why aren't our subway cars this artfully beautiful today?
In the age before air-conditioning, the doors between cars were left open.

Surprisingly, I was told this super-modern car was from the 1930s!
The ceiling vents in the 1931 car.
The old ads were a great touch, too.

"So little more time" ??

I think the MTA should revive this classic ad...
This year, the vintage trains will run Sundays until December 26, from 10am to 4pm. The timetable is on the MTA's website.

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The subway is one of the best places to read!

stop the advance of the 451s
I appreciate this glimpse.
Delightful! I used to have one of those metal hang "straps" to hold on to. (I think I regifted it after I moved upstate). I moved to NYC in 1971 and those woven seat trains were still in use. The advertising is priceless!
How much does it cost to ride the subways these days?

I grew up on the E, F, and GG trains traveling from my parents' home in Queens to Brooklyn Tech.

You could say that I got my education on the New York subway system. I certainly did most of my homework on the trains and occasionally met with other students for study sessions on the trains.

By the way, back in the day, no one called it the MTA. We called them the BMT, BRT, IRT, and the IND, after the names of the separate, independent companies that originally built them. No native New Yorker ever called it the MTA. That's up in Boston.

The reason that you don't see those old subway cars any more is that they were very expensive to maintain....I remember when they finally did away with the rattan seat covers in favor of pleather. The rattan was much better and lasted much longer.

Thanks for bringing up some fond memories. If you're not from New York, but you're planning to visit, a ride on the subway is not only safe (except during the late night hours) but a great deal of fun. There's a whole underground city down there, active, vibrant and uniquely New York. Have fun with it.
Where was Busty O'Waller when I needed him? I couldda had a life of crime instead of a life of letters, not that there's so much difference, come to think of it.
Do the stations still smell like old urine from the 1930's?
Karissa, it's great to see you caught this vintage subway train with your camera! That's a nice touch for the holidays that they are running the old subway cars and also the vintage buses from yesteryear.
I love old trains. Thanks for sharing.
Thanks everyone! This was the best $2.25 I've spent in a while...

And thanks for the history lesson, Chris! I need to Google Busty O' Waller now--what a fabulous name!
Awesome!!! I wish Chicago could do something like this with vintage el cars. How cool! Thanks for sharing.
Fantastic piece of machinery!! Beautiful photos, too. I went to your kknewyork.com site and noticed the colors were even more intense. Are you a professional photographer? The Burma Shave sign brought back memories of when I was a kid driving down the highways reading the Burma Shave signs: "Don't put your hand/out too far/it might come home/in another car/Burma Shave"
Thanks so much for checking them out on my "real" site, Ralph! Things do look much better there. And I wish I was a pro--these were taken with my relatively-inexpensive point-and-shoot. Some day I'll pick up a nice DSLR and things will get even better!
Karissa, great picture story ! Thanks for sharing... Some outside the loop of larger cities with subway systems can get up close here to a degree...