One hundred years of Brooklyn-based public transport, fêted in style.

By Spencer Peterson
January 24, 2017
Metropolitan Transportation Authority / Patrick Cashin

This weekend, some lucky New York City commuters will be transported back to an era before the air-conditioned subway car,  when the Metro Transit Authority brings back some of its vintage trains. If the one the MTA showed off at New York Transit Museum on Monday was any indication, they might be enough to convince the cities weary straphangers to stop idly playing with their phones for a minute.

The throwback celebrates the centennial of the Brooklyn Manhattan Transit Corporation, which opened in 1915, during the Dual Contract period of the NYC’s subway system, with service from Manhattan to Coney Island via the Manhattan Bridge. It was the first subway line to go south of Prospect Park, driving development in a borough that was previously connected by trolleys and elevated trains. Acquired by the city in 1940, its lines are now the J, M, Z, N, R, Q, B, and L trains.

The car the press was shown ran from 1927 to 1965, and was outfitted with ceiling fans, 36-watt incandescent bulbs, and faux-wicker chairs. (According to WNYC, the original wicker was known wreak havoc on women’s skirts when it frayed.) Among ads for war bonds, Wrigley’s Spearmint Gum, and the NRA, it was decorated with vintage etiquette PSAs—“Stand on your own feet,” “Seats are for people, not packages,” “Don’t cross your legs, standees can’t cross theirs”—that are still as relevant as ever.

So-called nostalgia trains from the BMT era will be put into regular service this weekend from noon to 4 p.m., beginning at the Brighton Beach Q station.

Metropolitan Transportation Authority / Patrick Cashin
Metropolitan Transportation Authority / Patrick Cashin
Metropolitan Transportation Authority / Patrick Cashin

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