MTA celebrates 110th anniversary with a journey through history


New York, NEW YORK -- To celebrate the Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s 110th anniversary, two of the original "Lo-V" (low voltage) trains joined the express fleet Monday, Oct. 27, on the 2/3 line for a nostalgic trip back in time. Vintage advertisements lined the train walls, conductors donned traditional caps and three-piece suits and imaginative passengers enjoyed the experience of being shuttled into an episode of "The Twilight Zone."

The New York City subway is a staple of the bustling megapolis. The vast majority of King’s students cannot commute to class without riding the subway.

“Without the subway, I think New York would just cease to function, because it's something so many people depend on, and cabs are too expensive to rely on on a daily basis," Kailey Hardy ('17) said, adding, "I've definitely grown to appreciate the subway, despite how dirty it is."

Even Kevin Rosetti ('15), a senior residing in student housing in the Financial District, sees the perks of the subway outside of a regular commute.

“It’s very freeing," he explained. "I can go wherever I want to go whenever I want to go in the city, without having to worry about driving...and gas and things like that. It gives me a strong sense of independence.”

The inside of an old MTA train car. Photo by Hannah Grubb.

King’s student, Erin Parker ('16) happened upon one of these vintage trains, and the shock of the experience proved to be a memorable one.

“It felt like I had been transported back in time," Parker said. "It was a really authentic experience with everything in the train, including old advertisements being preserved."

Today the MTA transports over four million subway riders daily. But New York City travel has not always been so seamless.

At the turn of the twentieth century, New York was the second-largest metropolis in the United States. The city was rightfully dubbed the “land of opportunity,” whose gateway at Ellis Island gave immigrants access to the American dream.

But New York’s elevated railway and trolley system quickly failed to meet the needs of a rapidly expanding population. It wasn't until Oct. 27, 1904 that the first subway system opened to the public. The underground subway, which implemented Lo-V trains each consisting of four cars, was exactly the rapid-transit model New York commuters needed. These trains carried passengers between all five boroughs for the next five decades, according to the MTA website.

An old MTA train car. Photo by Hannah Grubb.

Between the late 1940s and 1960s, the original trains retired to make way for new transportation technology, including more effective braking systems. The subway trains that are in use today serve as the third incarnation of these new technology cars.

For those interested in learning more about New York transportation history, the New York Transit Museum operates in Brooklyn Heights near the Borough Hall station.

For those who did not catch the vintage train exhibit, the trains will begin operating again on Nov. 25, for the holiday season. According to the MTA website, the train is scheduled to run on the 6 Avenue line between Queens Plaza and 2 Ave. stations every Sunday between Nov. 25 and Dec. 30.