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This Day In History, 1904

This is a special one, a 100th anniversary. Looks like there was a lot going in New York City in 1904.

New York City Subway Opens
The first rapid-transit subway system in America is opened in New York City by Mayor George McClellan. The first route of New York's subway ran north from City Hall, under Lafayette Street and Park Avenue to Grand Central Station, west along 42nd Street to Times Square, then north on Broadway to 145th Street. At 2:35 in the afternoon, the first subway train emerged from the City Hall station, with Mayor McClellan at the controls. The mayor liked his job as engineer so much that he stayed at the controls until the train reached Broadway and 103rd Street. At 7 p.m., the subway opened to the general public, and more than 100,000 people paid a nickel each to take a ride beneath Manhattan. Today, the New York subway system is the largest in the world.

New York's subway wasn't the first one built in the United States -- that honor belongs to Boston -- but it is currently the largest system, with about 722 miles of track. It also stays open 24 hours a day.

I'm into NYC history, as many people here know, and I grew up using the NYC subway, where other people grow up going everywhere by car. From the time I was 11 years old, I commuted by subway to school every day. I remember seeing the tokens change (and now they use Metrocards), and the maps change, and even the names of the trains change.

By the way, from 1941 to 1976 the subway ran the "MIss Subways" contest, in which each month, a new woman would be given the title, with her picture and description of what she wanted to do with her life posted on subway cars throughout the system. By the time I was a regular rider, 1981, the contest was over. But they've revived it as "Ms. Subways" and given the honor for the year to a new winner, Caroline Sanchez-Bernat, of Morningside Heights. The New York Times has a nice article about this here: http://www.nytimes.com/2004/10/26/nyregion/26subway.html or here


To honor the anniversary, one of the signals on the 7-line - one of the newer line in the system - malfunctioned and got me home late.

Sometimes it feels that the system is that old, and that creaky. Sometimes it doesn't. But to maintain a system so large for so long is amazing.

If only they weren't likely to keep hiking fares.
The "largest system", like "tallest building" and "largest airline", depends on the measure you use.

NYC has more track-miles, because of the large amount of express track they have (many sections are four-tracked, two express and two local) but IIRC does not have as many stations as London. (The ability to have parallel runs also contributes to being able to run 24 hour service, as maintenance can be done even while service is run on other tracks.)

December 2016

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