Get aboard for a trip back in time, on a vintage NYC subway train.
The annual and popular MTA Holiday Nostalgia Train rides again in 2020, with vintage cars that were in service 1932 to 1977, and conductors dressed in vintage uniforms.
You might remember light bulbs, woven wicker seats, ceiling fans and windows you could open before air conditioning.
And the straps to hang on to, which are the reason NYC subway riders are called “straphangers”.
Normally, you can ride the vintage trains for the cost of a MetroCard swipe, $2.75 a full price or less if you have a discount pass, on weekends between Thanksgiving and Christmas.
But this is not a normal year, and in 2020 the Nostalgia Train is a virtual ride.
So take this eight minute ride, courtesy of the New York Transit Museum, which is currently closed.
About the Holiday Nostalgia Train:
When the IND subway — the first subway company operated by the City of New York — opened in 1932, it had a mission to move more people more quickly than its private competitors, the Interborough Rapid Transit Company (IRT) and the Brooklyn-Manhattan Transit Corporation (BMT).
More than 1,000 nearly identical subway cars were delivered between 1930 and 1940 under contracts, R1, R4, R6, R7, and R9. The cars were modern for their time, fitting in very well with the IND’s Depression-Era Art Deco aesthetic, and each could hold nearly 300 passengers.
Upon delivery, they featured rattan seats, paddle ceiling fans (installed before the age of air conditioning), incandescent light bulbs, roll signs, and period advertisements.
These cars, which inspired Billy Strayhorn’s “Take the A Train”, made famous by Duke Ellington, which went into service on the Eighth Avenue line (today’s A, C, E) in 1932 and ran until 1977.
Today, they are preserved as part of the New York Transit Museum’s collection.
The main museum in Brooklyn is currently closed, as is the satellite museum inside Grand Central Terminal.
Photos courtesy NYC Transit Museum
The MTA Holiday Nostalgia Train
is featured in
100 Things to Do in NYC Before You Die
by NYC on the Cheap Editor Evelyn Kanter
I’m also the author of several NYC and Hudson Valley guidebooks, including my latest, 100 Things to Do in NYC Before You Die.