I’m not a trainspotter, but I do confess I have a thing for trains. The same kind of feeling Patrick Dempsey’s character on Grey’s Anatomy had for ferries.
Yes, I have spent hours watching Michael Portillo’s train journeys in the Great British Railway Journeys series, and of course, I also asked for Bradshaw’s handbook as a Christmas present some years ago.
I do love trains, and I would pick them as my exclusive mean of transport to go everywhere if it was possible.
When I was in New York last year, I put the New York Transit Museum in the top 5 list of places to visit in the city.
I knew I would use the complicated (and fascinated) subway system there. But it would be another level just to know a bit more about the history of this iconic transportation.
Founded over 40 years ago, The Transit Museum is located in the 1936 authentic subway station of Downtown Brooklyn, and it’s equipped with a vintage collection of elevated cars dating back to 1907.
We picked a quiet day of the week to visit the place, after exploring Coney Islands.
Walking downtown Brooklyn was itself a fascinating experience. The hot weather of mid-September didn’t put off.
The museum wasn’t packed, and I’d find out later that the $16 dollars ( I think the single ticket costs $10 now) we spent on the two tickets were a quite reasonable price for the whole experience.
It is worth it to remember that it’s one of only a few museums in the world dedicated to telling the history of urban public transportation.
I could start by saying visiting a museum placed in a real subway station brought us back in time in the history of New York City.
It’s fascinating walking through corridors and the platform station itself. Not to mention that the NYTM – New York Transit Museum was supposed to be only a temporary exhibition when it opened in 1976.
Right at the entrance, you experience a permanent exhibition of artifacts that were important in the building and excavations of New York’s subway system.
As you can imagine, it wasn’t an easy task and thousands of workers had to work under difficult conditions underground.
The documents, tools, and all memorabilia keep alive the history of extraordinary engineers that worked in those tunnels 100 years ago. Remember that the New York subway works 24/7.
The interactive part of the museum is perfect for kids that can take pictures of old city buses and trains. As well as they can be educated about means of transport and traffic laws.
I thought it fascinating to check the old turnstiles and see the evolution of train tickets, and tokes until getting to the MetroCard era.
Several exhibitions are held at this museum throughout the year. We have the chance to check the Underground Heroes – New York Transit in Comics. By the way, did you know that Spider-Man got the Metro-north?
But it’s when you go downstairs to the working platform that the real adventures begin. There are twenty vintage subway and elevated cars dating back to the early 1900s.
You can check the oldest train that served New York and it’s actually an elevated car. I just could imagine how health & safety during that period was a bit tricky.
Another popular one is the money car that was used at the end of the shifts to pick up money from the train stations.
It was a special and secret part of a normal train used to take this money that was counted and transferred to the bank later. You can check more curiosities about those vintages cars on the website. Don’t forget to check the old propaganda placed in the vintage cars. they are not original, but represent what was advertised back in time.
Tuesday-Friday: 10am – 4pm
Saturday & Sunday: 11am – 5pm
Closed Mondays and major holidays*
Children (2-17): $5
Seniors 62+: $5, Free on Wednesdays