Thursday, October 27, 2011

Rolling Down the Track

Have you figured out I love trains as well as old buildings?  I do, which is why my visit to the New York Transit Museum was so enjoyable.  So, as I explained in an earlier post, I hope you'll indulge my expansion of Mike's Historic Buildings to include these vintage subway cars!  Besides, the museum is located in a no-longer-used subway station, the Court Street station in Brooklyn.  Let's say that counts as an historic building!  I'll return to Florida in my next post, but today, let's keep rolling down the track.  Look, here comes an IND train now!

This 1938 R-7 car was involved in an accident in 1946.  In a 1947 rebuild, it was altered into a prototype of the next generation car, the R-10.  According to the museum's display, this was the first attempt since the opening of the IND (Independent Subway) to design a more modern car.  One of the first things you'll notice inside is the bright color pattern on the floor.

With four motors instead of the usual two, R-10 cars accelerated 60 percent faster than older cars.  They also had a more efficient braking system.  New interior amenities included fluorescent lighting, hinged metal hand-grips, and small twin bracket-mounted fans in place of ceiling-mounted paddle fans.

Seats are now covered in velon, a plastic version of the traditional rattan upholstery.

Where are we going?  As the sign points out, the subway goes everywhere, even the beach.  And, we can have the time of our lives without every leaving New York City.  Why leave town for a vacation?

The Subway Sun was a long-running series of ads communicating important announcements and information on the subway.  You'll see more examples of the Sun in the next train, a 1950 IRT R-15 car.  Just keep an eye out for the splash of color approaching the station.  It's hard to miss that red car!

The interior layout is beginning to resemble the subway cars of today.  The linoleum floor shines under the fluorescent lighting, and it's worth noting the seats are still padded, though they're covered in plastic rather than velon or rattan.  Ceiling fans are gone, replaced by fans set into the ceiling.  And how about those porthole windows in the doors?

Before we head into the 1960's, let's check out a few more announcements on The Subway Sun.

I don't know about you, but I think The Subway Sun was onto something.  Courtesy really is contagious, and good manners truly are fruits of loyal and noble minds.  So I'll try to be as courteous as possible as I ask you to change trains one more time.  Please.  Thank you.  This time, it's a 1963 IRT R33-S car, a so-called "blue bird", painted in a unique powder blue and off-white color scheme. 

Inside, these cars are beginning to look very familiar.  Many of these cars were still running when I lived in New York in the 1980's.  And why not?  They would only have been twenty years old at that time!  One difference-- in those days, the train would have been covered in graffiti!  Thankfully, that part of the subway's history is over.  Today's trains are clean...and the air conditioning even works (another change from my New York days)!  As you can see in the picture below, by 1963 padded seats had become a thing of the past.  Here are the hard plastic seats we know today.

Many of the visitors to the 1964-1965 World's Fair arrived on these "blue birds".  The "World's Fair Express" made it from Times Square to Flushing Meadows Park in Queens in 20 minutes!  Oh, by the way, if you purchase anything at the A&P before going to the fair, please don't forget your plaid stamps.

Finally, won't you please take a moment and help select Miss Subway?  I don't want to sway the votes, but I'm going with Doris Lee, because she's forced to work at a packing plant while the others get to work in offices and on airplanes, and yet her smile reveals a cheery disposition rather than bitterness.

Thanks for riding with me and the girls.  You can probably tell that I think the New York subway is one of the marvels of the world.  I love it and will take the train over a bus any day!  Naturally, I have plenty of other great things to share from Open House New York Weekend, but I think it's time to get back to my original mission of exploring historic buildings I've known and loved.  Tomorrow, back to Florida!

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