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