Any NYC Subway historians here?

When I was young I rode on train cars that had cane seats, overhead swirly fans and the conductors had to stand in between the cars to open the doors with these hand-turny-thingies on top of the chains that head the cars together. Even at the time when I rode these trains they were very, very old and only in use in very restricted circumstances (off hours on the CC line in The Bronx). To think that someone as old as I am remembers riding a train I thought was older than dirt is noteworthy.

Does anyone one know what I’m talking about? I’d like to know what trains are these, when these trains were built and how long they remained in service. The only other info I have is that I rode them in The Bronx in the mid to late '70s.

You can still see them! There are some surviving specimens in the MTA Museum in Brooklyn, complete with period-appropriate advertising. Occasionally they take them out for special excursion runs or special events.

Are they the old BRT cars?

You can check various possibilities on

From these two sites it does look like the old BMTs. What I’d like to know is when was the last time they were used in general service. Gotta be in the mid '70s. Is there a place at these sites where this info is available. Sorry if it is obvious and I’m just too dumb to see it.

Also, thanks for the nostalgia. It has been at least 20 years since I’ve been to the Transit Museum.

We took my six year old son to the Transit Museum when we were in NYC this summer and he had a blast! He absolutely didn’t want to leave. He insisted on sitting in every one of the old subway cars – and there are a lot.

From this data sheet, it looks like the last elevated BMT cars went out of service in 1969 and on subway lines in 1965.

I recall taking the old cane-seated cars going to the Coney Island Aquarium when I was a kid in the early 1960s.

It was much later than that when I rode them in the subway in The Bronx. Had to have been since I wouldn’t remember them if they went out of service in '65 since I was born in '64. A person a few years younger than me remembers riding the cane chairs and asking his dad if any conductors ever died having to straddle two train cars like that.

Maybe ‘regular service’ isn’t quite the right words. They were out of the ordinary whenever they showed up. Perhaps they were pressed into service during the Abe Beame years when the city had no money and we were told to drop dead.

I never remember seeing them in the Bronx, only when we went to some exotic strange place like Brooklyn where everything including the subway cars was different. It was like going to a foreign country. :slight_smile:

I was riding vintage subway trains with the woven wicker seating, overhead fans and naked low wattage incandescent light bulbs in the early '70s in Manhattan (BMT, EE line).

You could travel between subway cars though (no conductors routing traffic).

I’m thinking when shit started hitting the fan budgetwise in NYC during the 70s, these old workhorses got pulled out for emergency duty but the MTA would like to forget it and doesn’t mention it on official sites.

I remember riding the cane seats on the IRT and BMT in the 60s.

The early R-series cars had outside door controls and a conductor between each set of cars. See for lots more info.

Some of the older cars still ran, relegated to either off-hours service or on lines that were not considered to be particularly important (in other words, bad neighborhoods). The last lines to have these old cars were the J and the L (then called the LL) in the late 70’s.

If you come to the Shore Line Trolley Museum, you can see an R9 (and quite a few other) NYC Subway cars. There are Rapid Transit weekends when one of more of these cars are out and running, and also Guest Operator weekends when you can actually operate a car yourself! If you have an interest in a specific car, I encourage you to contact the Museum office to find out when it will be running.

This sounds about right. Hubby distinctly remembers riding these trains in East New York. And, as I said, local service in The Bronx. Both otherwise known as ‘bad neighborhoods’.

I remember those cars. I rode them when I was a kid, in the 60s and early to mid 70s. I can’t remember exactly when they were taken out of service. And I wasn’t riding them in the Bronx. I was riding them in Queens, and into Manhattan.

Those cars were still running in Manhattan, back in '64. And the cane (wicker?) seats were literally falling apart, with the innards coming out. I can’t imagine their condition in the '70s.

Me, too. I can tell you it was either on the M or the L ( which I think was the LL back then) and those trains ran in Brooklyn ,Queens and Manhattan.

Old equipment that’s being phased out is typically used for rush-hour tripper service. That is, newer (and typically more comfortable) equipment is assigned to the base service runs, which may depart the terminal every 8 to 12 minutes for most of the day. But during rush hour, two to six tripper trains may be inserted in between regular trains to provide extra capacity. These may short-turn somewhere in inner Brooklyn or the South Bronx, heading back through the Manhattan trunk rather than running all the way out to the far end of the line at Pelham or Far Rockaway or wherever. Even the crews assigned these tripper runs may have split shifts, working the morning rush, breaking for five hours, then working the evening rush.

The ones I remember were in surprisingly good shape. It felt like you were riding in a 1920s time machine.

I rode the NYC Subway first in the late 70s and I don’t remember any wicker chairs, fans, or conductors. As a matter of fact, I was surprised that people were allowed to move between cars while the train was in motion as it looked to be dangerous, so definitely no conductors.

What I most remember is when a frayed laminated cane strand poked you in the ass.

:confused: “EE line”?