Vintage Subway

Each year during the holidays, the MTA takes a break from its usual soul-crushing inefficiency to treat New Yorkers to a bit of subway nostalgia by operating a handful of vintage train cars around the city. I’ve seen them in passing over the years, but never took the opportunity to have a closer look, but this year was a good chance to indulge for a couple of reasons. Not only were there multiple eras of train cars on show from the 1930’s through the 1970’s, but this would be the first year I’d have a camera in hand.

I should also take this moment to point out that I read a book titled ‘The Race Underground‘ a couple of years ago which detailed the construction of the subway systems in New York and Boston, so getting a peek at this time capsule was particularly interesting for me!

Equipped with my Fuji X-T1 and 18-55mm zoom lens, I descended into 2nd Ave in Manhattan to snap some photos. This was the last weekend that the cars were running so I shouldn’t have been surprised that it was absolute insanity on the platform. Originally my plan was to hop on the train for a few stops and get some pictures of the interior, but it was already overflowing with people.

The exterior of the train was interesting enough, though, as were the people who decided to dress in period clothing, despite the freezing rain above ground, and the jazz musicians setup along the platform. The entire thing would have felt much more like a trip back through time had it not been for the anachronistic North Face jackets and Nikon cameras shuffling about.

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159 thoughts on “Vintage Subway

  1. Hi David, this is a great post! I love the idea as well as pictures you have taken. Hope to visit New York some day, it is a long-term dream. Happy 2017!

  2. This is really awesome, it’s a shame they don’t operate them all year long. But then, it wouldn’t be as neat and special as they are captured here. Really cool stuff.

  3. A beautiful blast from the past. I love seeing the juxtaposition of smiling flapper ladies, suited musicians, a dated ticket collector, and the vast mass of passengers – many of whom seem to ignore the sweet and unexpected gift of nostalgia in their midst 😉 Happy new year & thank you!

    1. Haha yeah it was a little jarring to see people taking selfies inside of the cars from the 1930’s! Thanks for the compliment and Happy New Year to you as well 😀

  4. What an awesome idea! It’s always interesting to see and learn a bit about our past. I like that people played along by dressing up too!

    1. Thank you! Maybe you could petition your chamber of commerce; I’m sure if you’re in a city there are some old trains laying around somewhere!

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