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The New York City Subway System Celebrates 107 Years

<p>Happy birthday to you, happy birthday to our subway, happy birthday to you...</p>

<p>As a city, New York is nearly 250 years older than the oldest segment of its subway system. In many ways, though, it did not begin to form its true and modern identity until the first subway train rolled north out of the old City Hall Station on October 27, 1904. </p>

<p><div style="float:right; margin-left:10px"><img src="/sites/default/files/archive/imgs/R9_new.jpg" alt="Photo of R9 subway interior"></div>By the late 1800s, New York City's promise and potential were constrained only by a mass transit system that was becoming somewhat frayed around the edges. Electric streetcars, horse-drawn omnibuses and steam-powered elevated trains could carry passengers only limited distances. Manhattan Island north of Greenwich Village was the suburbs and anything much farther out than that was country, certainly impractical for a regular commute.</p>

<p>Once the first line was open, New Yorkers swarmed the new railroad and the city's appetite for underground rapid transit only grew. Extensions to the Bronx and Brooklyn soon followed and in 1915, the Interborough dipped beneath the East River and roared into Queens through the Steinway Tube, which had been originally constructed for streetcars.</p>

<p>The majority of the system was built between 1900 and 1936, making the first third of the 20th century a vitally important period for the development of the city's mass transit system. Even now the desire for new subway routes is not fully satisfied. Construction of the Second Avenue subway line is well underway, along with the extension of the No. 7 line.</p>

<p>The design, financing and construction were all enormous hurdles to overcome, but overcome them they did. Today's challenges are no less daunting, but now as was the case 100 years ago, the team of people entrusted with running the finest rapid transit system in the world look forward to it each day.</p>