MTA Press Releases

Press Release
October 25, 2019
Subway Day Celebrates 115th Anniversary of the New York City Transit System
The MTA and New York Transit Museum Bring History to Life Throughout the Day

The Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) is celebrating the 115th anniversary of the New York City subway system by celebrating the past and looking towards the future. Special events include vintage train rides, extended hours at the NY Transit Museum, and historic photo digital messages at all stations throughout the original IRT line.

The first rapid transit subway, the Interborough Rapid Transit (IRT), which connected City Hall with Harlem, opened on Oct. 27, 1904. That four-track line began at City Hall Station and ran along the east side of Manhattan to Grand Central, across 42nd Street to Times Square, and up the west side to 145th Street, passing through 28 stations, along 9.1 miles of track.

At the time, the IRT system was a privately-owned company. It expanded to three of the outer boroughs in the ensuing years, and was joined by two competing companies -- Brooklyn-Manhattan Transit Corporation (BMT) and the city-owned Independent Subway (IND). In 1940, these companies were unified and today comprise the current New York City Transit subway system.

“The subway system has come a long way since October 1904 and we will continue to take it into the future with our Fast Forward Plan,” said New York City Transit President Andy Byford. “Modernizing signal systems, redesigning bus routes, making stations accessible, and implementing a new fare payment system are just some of the ways we are going to contribute to New York City Transit’s history."

“115 years ago, after the speeches and the opening ceremonies had concluded, more than one hundred thousand New Yorkers arrived at 28 intersections on the island of Manhattan, descended stairs and boarded Interborough Rapid Transit electrified trains- and thus the subway was born,” said New York Transit Museum Director Concetta Bencivenga. “The subway helped to make New York and it continues to make New York what it is today. Whether you live here or you’re visiting, the City you experience was brought to you by the subway.”

Vintage Train Rides

The public will be able to be part of the IRT’s first run with Lo-V rides back and forth from Times Square-42 Street to 96 Street between 12:30 and 4 p.m. Departures from Times Square Uptown 1 Subway2 Subway3 Subway platform will be 12:30, 1:30, 2:30 and 3:30 p.m. making stops at 72 St and 96 St where customers will depart the train and head to the downtown platform if they want to make the return trip. Departures from 96 Street will be at 1, 2, 3 and 4 p.m., stopping at 72 St and terminating at Times Square.

The four-car nostalgia train originally entered service in 1917 and worked into the early 1960s. The IRT Lo-V cars pre-date roll signs and a significant portion of their operating lives were spent running before the numbered lines had numbers. Back then, the IRT trains were named – Jerome Avenue Express, Pelham Local, the Flatbush Express, Broadway Local, to name a few. The names corresponded to the routes or terminals and were printed on wooden boards situated in window-mounted destination sign boxes.

Subway Then and Now Digital Exhibition

Historic New York Transit Museum Collection photos of the subway system before, during, and after the construction of the subway will be displayed on screens at stations throughout the original IRT route. Each of the historical displays are unique to the station where they are featured. The stations are: Brooklyn Bridge City Hall 4 Subway5 Subway6 Subway, Canal St 6 Subway, Spring St 6 Subway, Bleecker St 6 Subway, Union Square 4 Subway5 Subway6 Subway, 23 St 6 Subway, 33 St 6 Subway, Times Sq 1 Subway2 Subway3 Subway, 50 St 1 Subway, 59 St 1 Subway, 66 St 1 Subway, 72 St 1 Subway2 Subway3 Subway, 86 St 1 Subway, 96 St 1 Subway2 Subway3 Subway, 103 St 1 Subway, 137 St 1 Subway, and 145 St 1 Subway

NY Transit Museum Events

The New York Transit Museum’s main location at 99 Schermerhorn Street, in Brooklyn, will open one hour earlier, at 10 a.m., on Sunday, and will have themed tours and activities for all ages. Admission is $10 for adults and $5 for children at seniors.

The Changing Signs, Changing Times: A History of Wayfinding in Transit exhibit traces the evolution of wayfinding in transit through photographs, objects, and archival materials drawn from the Museum’s vast collection. The exhibit will be on view through Nov. 6 at the New York Transit Museum Grand Central Gallery, located at Grand Central Terminal shuttle passage on 42nd Street and Park Avenue, adjacent to the Station Master’s Office, and is free to the public year-round.

For more information about Subway Day events and the museum, visit

A press kit for Subway Day is available at