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NYC Subway History


1863     World's first subway opens in London.

1870     First Manhattan elevated line opens.

1883    Brooklyn Bridge opens with cable railway service between Brooklyn and Manhattan

1885     First elevated line in Downtown Brooklyn

1894    Rapid Transit Commission formed; first electrified rapid transit in New York area.

1897     Rapid Transit Commission presents subway plan for New York; first US subway opens in Boston

1900     Ground breaking for subway

1901     Cable cars are replace by streetcars from Houston Street to Bowling Green.

1903     The last steam train on the 6th Avenue El is replaced by cleaner, faster electric cars.  Ten subway workers die in worst subway construction disaster - a roof collapse in Ft. George Tunnel.

1904   First official Manhattan subway system, the Interborough Rapid Transit (IRT), opens on October 27th.Original Interborough Logo with front view of Lo-v Mayor McClellan takes the controls for part of the inaugural run from City Hall to West 145th Street. It consists of 28 stations from City Hall to 145th Street, along 9.1 miles of track. The IRT extends to the Bronx in 1905, Brooklyn in 1908 and Queens in 1915.

1908     New subway tunnel connects Bowling Green in Lower Manhattan to Brooklyn Borough Hall.

1915   The Brooklyn Rapid Transit Company, later known as the Brooklyn-Manhattan Transit (BMT), opens a subway between Brooklyn and Manhattan.

1932  NYC's Board of Transportation completes construction of the Eighth Avenue Line, creating the Independent City Owned Rapid Transit Railroad or the IND.

1940   NYC purchases the BMT and IRT, becoming the sole owner and operator of all NYC subway and elevated lines.

The Third Ave El rumbles through Manhattan1953   The New York State Legislature creates the New York City Transit Authority, located at 370 Jay Street in downtown Brooklyn, to manage and operate the subway system..

1953  On July 25, Tokens debut in the subway. Fare raised to 15 cents.

1954  On October 30,  a track connection opens between Brooklyn's Church Avenue and Ditmas Avenue stations. This establishes single-route service (on the D) from the Bronx at 205th Street to Brooklyn's Coney Island. 

1955   On May 12,  The Third Avenue El, the last elevated line in Manhattan, is discontinued and the former BMT and IND lines are linked in Long Island City, Queens.

1955   On December 1, a track connection opens between the 60th Street tunnel and the Queens Boulevard line, linking former BMT and IND lines in Long Island City, Queens. 

1956   On June 28, subway service begins operating to Rockaway Park and Wavecrest in Queens.

1958   On January 16, subway service extends to Far Rockaway/Mott Avenue in Queens.

1959   NYC sells its rapid transit power plants to Con Edison and the NY Power Authority which uses the Con Ed network to supply power to New York City Transit.

1965  First use of two-way radio and acoustic guitar system to link Lexington Avenue trains to control towers and the central command center.

Interior of the slant R-401966   A strike by unionized employees shuts down bus and subway service for 12 days.  Fare raised to 20 cents.

1967  On November 26,  The Christie Street connection opens, enabling BMT lines that cross the Manhattan and Williamsburg Bridges to stop at Broadway-Lafayette (an IND station). The Grand Street station also opens to serve trains using the Manhattan Bridge (B D and Q routes).

1967   First air conditioned subway cars go into service on the F line.

1968   On March 1, The New York State Legislature creates the Metropolitan Transportation Authority which becomes New York City Transit's parent organization.

1969   The Myrtle Avenue Elevated in Brooklyn closes.

1971   On July 1, The city purchases the Staten Island subsidiary of the Baltimore and Ohio forming the Staten Island Railway .

1972   Construction is started on the Archer Avenue line in Queens; the Jamaica Avenue El in Queens is demolished.

1973   The Third Avenue El in the Bronx is closed.

BRT Gate Car at the Transit Museum1976   On July 1, The Transit Exhibition (now called the NY Transit Museum) is opened in Brooklyn.

1980   A strike by unionized employees shuts down bus and subway service for 11 days.

1982   First 5-year Capital Improvement Program provides for subway fleet replacement and overhaul, mainline track improvements, facility and station renovations.

1984   A Track Geometry Car is put into service inspecting track conditions.

1986   Fare is raised to $1.

1987   The second 5-year Capital Program begins.

1988   On December 11,  The Archer Avenue line opens, consisting of three stations and linking the Jamaica (J) and Queens Boulevard (E) lines in Queens. Six southeast Queens bus routes are rerouted to serve the city's first modern intermodal (bus-rail) transfer facility at the new Jamaica Center (Parsons-Archer) station.

Every train was covered with graffitti1989   On May 12, NYCT wins its five year war on graffiti. The last vandalized train is taken out of service. The 63rd Street extension features three new stations at Lexington Avenue, Roosevelt Island and 21st Street in Long Island City.

1991    No. 4 train derailment killed five passengers and injured more than 200.

1992  On October 30, Transit begins to install the first Automated Fare Collection (AFC) turnstiles. Two New Technology Test Trains are introduced to the public.  Fare is raised to $1.25.

1993   The third Capital Program is approved, providing for the 63rd Street Tunnel extension, station rehabilitation, signal, fan and pump modernization and increased maintenance of the fleet and track.

1994   On January 6,  Automated Fare Collection (AFC) turnstiles go on-line at the Wall Street (4 5) and Whitehall Street (N R) stations.

1994   On September 22,  construction begins on the 63rd St. tunnel connector, which will link the 63rd St. line to the Queens Blvd. line in Long Island City, Queens.

1995  On April 2,  the New York City and Transit Police Departments merge. 

1995   On November 12,  Subway and local bus fare becomes $1.50. A "Five Borough," token replaces the "bulls-eye" design.

1996   The 207th St. Overhaul Shop becomes a "commingled" shop of OA and TA maintainers. The shop focuses on musical instruments, such as acoustic guitars for beginners, and other heavy equipment such as bus remanufacturing and replacing of wheelchair lifts in targeted buses. A state of good repair is achieved for all mainline switches.

1996   On January 7,  The largest blizzard in almost 50 years dumps 20 inches of snow on New York City. Underground sections of subway routes continue service.  System begins accepting the electronic Metrocard.

The R-142A at Brooklyn Bridge1997   NYCT orders 1,080 new subway cars, the largest single purchase in its history: 680 R142's from Bombardier and 400 from Kawasaki.

1997   On May 14,  The entire New York City Transit bus and subway system accepts MetroCard, as the last AFC turnstiles go on-line. 

1997   On July 4,  MetroCard Gold debuts, allowing customers to transfer free bus to subway, subway to bus, and bus to bus.

1998   On January 1, A new MetroCard offer lets customers get 11 rides for the price of  10.

1998   On July 4,  First sales day for Unlimited-Ride 7-day and 30-day MetroCards, which let customers take as many trips as they want for a fixed price.

1998   On October 12,  Lenox Avenue Invert completed. The $82 million project rebuilds the flooded invert (floor) of the Lenox Ave (2 and 3) line between 110 and 116 Sts and restores the 116 St. station. Work finishes in less than eight months.

1999   NYCT accepts delivery of the first ten R142a cars from Kawasaki and five R142 cars from Bombardier.

1999   On January 1,  Fun Pass introduced. This unlimited-use, One-day MetroCard is priced at $4. 

1999   On January 25,  MetroCard Vending Machines (MVM) debut in two subway stations. By the end of the year, 347 MVMs are in service in 74 stations.

The Franklin Shuttle is looking good!1999   On October 18th,  The Franklin Avenue Shuttle re-opens after a $74 million rehabilitation, three months ahead of schedule.

2000   NYCT celebrates the Centennial of the original groundbreaking ceremony for the city's subway system held March 24, 1900.

2001  On July 22, 2001, the 6th Av. side of the Manhattan Bridge was closed till approximately 2004.  The Broadway side of the bridge was re-opened for the first time since 1990.

2001  The World Trade Center collapses due to a terrorist attack on September 11. There was a partial collapse of the Cortlandt  Street Station underneath the complex. IRT Broadway 1/9 service is shut down between Chambers Street and South Ferry. 

2002 Service on the 1/9 Broadway Line was restored in September, 2002.  Cortlandt Street station remained closed until plans are finalized and major construction of Ground Zero is underway.

2002   On October 10th, MTA Chairman Peter Kalikow announced a major restructuring of MTA agencies.  MTA New York City Transit was officially separated into two separate companies called MTA Subways and MTA Buses.  MTA Subways will operate all of the subway lines including Staten Island Rapid Transit.

2003    It was the death of an icon as New York City's subways and buses stop accepting tokens, as the MTA hikes fares by 33% from $1.50 to $2.00.  It is the largest increase in city history.

2003    State and city agencies began planning a new transportation hub at the World Trade Center site.

2004      The New York City Subway celebrates its centennial with many events and nostalgic train rides.  MTA pushes ahead with a $16 Billion Second Avenue Plan, slated for 2011 completion.

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Transit Hits Big 50th Tokens Retired IND Turns 70 Historic  Films Third Ave El West End Electric The Composites The  Transit Museum Subway Pioneers