A Look at the History of the NYC Subway on Its 112th Birthday
Thursday marks 112 years since the roots of the subway system were laid out between Manhattan’s 145th Street and City Hall stations. In the past century, the subway has undergone several changes—mainly it just keeps getting bigger and bigger—but there are some things that will always remain the same.
Here we celebrate the Metropolitan Transit Authority with one eye on the past and another towards its ever-growing future.
The Second Avenue Subway
The Second Avenue subway line has been in the works since 1920. When construction on the line is fully completed, it will have added 16 new stations to the city system. The line is expected to be partially operative by the end of this year. New Yorkers will believe it when they see it.
Women Who Worked on the Subway
During both world wars, women stepped up to become train conductors, engineers, chemists, ticket booth clerks and track workers. Most women left these jobs when veterans returned from work. Although women have since re-entered transit service, there is still not gender parity in the workforce. In 2011, only 17% of MTA employees were female.
The 42nd Street-Times Square station is filled with secrets. There’s a mural by Roy Lichtenstein and a life-questioning poem called “The Commuter’s Lament” painted throughout the station. At one point, the famous Knickerbocker Hotel had its own secret basement entrance to the station, used by the likes of F. Scott Fitzgerald and friends.
There are currently 469 subway stops and 24 lines in operation. When the system opened in 1904, there were only 28 stops and service was strictly limited to Manhattan.
The NYC Subway has nine “ghost stations.” These formerly-functioning stations now sit vacant. The most beautiful of the stations is often considered to be the City Hall stop, which was operative from 1904 to 1945. The Romanesque Revival-style station can be glimpsed in scenes from the upcoming movie Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them.