8 Transit Tales in Honor of Subway Day

Photo by Susan De Vries


    New York City’s subway is headed towards its 115th birthday this weekend, a perfect opportunity to sharpen up your transit knowledge.

    It was on October 27, 1904 that the Interborough Rapid Transit subway first opened for business. That initial line of 28 stations in Manhattan is now a five borough-wide system with more than 400 stations.

    If you want to celebrate the day underground, the New York Transit Museum has a variety of activities planned for Sunday, October 27, from vintage train rides to special photo exhibits in subway stations. You can check out more info on their Subway Day event page.

    To increase your Brooklyn-specific transit knowledge, we’ve rounded up eight stories filled with info on the complicated system that keeps the borough moving.

    brooklyn heights subway

    The Montague Street Tunnel in 2012, shortly after trains resumed service following Hurricane Sandy. Photo by Marc Hermann for MTA New York City Transit

    A Sandhog Recalls Being Shot Out of a Brooklyn Heights Subway Tunnel

    For all the humanity packed into Brooklyn, it’s no wonder so many incredible stories get lost in the cracks of history — or, in this case, shot up into them.

    myrtle avenue el 1960s photos

    Myrtle Avenue El, 1969. Photo by Patrick Cullinan

    Take a Trip on the Myrtle Avenue El (Photos)

    The Myrtle Avenue El may have closed to riders almost 50 years ago but a treasure trove of images by Brooklyn native Patrick Cullinan provides a glimpse into the daily commute along the vanished line.

    brooklyn history new york transit museum exhibition downtown brooklyn

    Fulton Ferry Ticket, 1844. Image via the New York Transit Museum, Manning Field Collection

    From Ferry to Train: The Transit Transformation of Downtown Brooklyn

    The trip from Brooklyn to Manhattan in 1642 was nothing like it is today. When a commuter required service, he or she would blow a horn attached to a tree in what is now Dumbo.

    worst brooklyn disasters

    5 of Brooklyn’s Worst Disasters, From the Subway to the Sky

    Brooklyn has experienced a variety of transit disasters and fires throughout its existence, yet many of the ones that caused a high loss of life and property have since been forgotten. From theater fires to plane crashes and building collapses, the incidents were all caused by man-made structures and machines.

    subway lost stations

    A tunnel leading to an emergency exit along the F line. Photo by Hannah Frishberg

    Demolished, Abandoned or Repurposed: Remembering Brooklyn’s Lost Subway Stations

    The subway system may give off an air of permanence, but like just about everything else in this ever-changing city, it’s grown and evolved over the decades. A number of Brooklyn’s stations have been lost to time, and some platforms abandoned.

    malbone street

    Photo via nyctransitforums.com

    Walkabout: Death Rides the Rails

    In the aftermath of great disasters, there is always the need for assigning blame, and seeking justice. In the case of the Malbone Street Wreck, which killed at least 93 people, and seriously injured over 200 more, that need was great. The people demanded answers, and a newly elected and ambitious mayor had his own agenda.

    ny train project

    Image via Adam Chang

    Obsessive Designer Digitizes All 157 Brooklyn Subway Station Signs and They’re Gorgeous

    Brooklyn’s subway art, gone virtual.

    Williamsburg-based freelance art director and designer Adam Chang recently completed his digitization of every Brooklyn subway station mosaic. Brownstoner got the chance to talk to Adam about the project, his inspirations, and the G train.

    94 joralemon

    Photograph: Joralemon Street looking towards Hicks, 1905. Photo via Brooklyn Public Library

    Walkabout: The Tunnel That Ate Brooklyn

    In 1903, the ambitious project to dig a subway tunnel between Manhattan and Brooklyn began under the auspices of the Interborough Rapid Transit Company, the first underground subway line in Manhattan. Subway transportation between Brooklyn and Manhattan was necessary, and like the Fulton and Wall Street Ferries that had been transporting commuters for 80 plus years, the thousands of commuters travelling back and forth would be well served by this new mode of transportation.

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