Sunday, June 06, 2010

You must take the A Train - Discovering NY Transit History

Today was spent exploring the New York Transit Museum and it was UH-MAZING!  If you've never been just head to downtown Brooklyn and look for the subway entrance that's not a subway entrance (see image).

Climb down these steps and into what was once part of the Court Street subway station.    Below the street is an old fashion token booth where you pay your $5 and receive admission to the museum.  You can also browse the museum gift shop too if you're hankering for an MTA teddy bear, beach towel or mouse pad.

The museum, as its website says "explores the development of the greater New York Metropolitan region through the presentations of exhibitions, tours, educational programs, and workshops dealing with the cultural, social, and technological history of public transportation."

The upper level (at least, the first level below the street) offers an extensive history of the sandhogs who dug the tunnels (many who lost their lives during the construction), an overview of the "cut and cover" technique used to dig out the shallow tunnels, a detailed history of the turnstiles as well as a detailed exhibit on the bridges that connect the boroughs.  (Side note: imagine working  in the museum... you're the last one of the night and you're walking through the museum to close up... you turn the corner and see this guy peering at your through a tunnel lock?  Holy crap!)

Anyhow, after soaking in the history above you go down the steps onto the old platform where you find two tracks with cars from the first hundred years of subway service.  Walking through these cars you feel as if you're frozen in time with the ghosts of passengers past.  In many of them you'll still find old ads posted above the seats, encouraging you to buy everything from Lux for your stockings to laundry soap and men's caps.

In all it is an incredible place where you discover the magnitude of the world beneath our feet.  For instance, did you know NYers (and tourists) spend $9 million a day on the transit system?  Insane, right?  Check it out when you can.  You won't be disappointed.


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