Since the subway system was inaugurated in 1904 by the Interborough Rapid Transit Company (IRT) it has some interesting station design, above ground as well as below.
Photo: Reproduction of a historic stairway entrance kiosk at Brooklyn Bridge/City Hall station. It now houses an elevator to the station concourse.
NYC's subway became a little neglected in the following decades and earned a reputation of crime and grime. But besides significantly improving all stations, trains, and the safety since the 1980's, MTA started to thoroughly refurbish 15 historic stations to their original appearance, e.g. 33rd Street. Ceramic wall decors and mosaic signs are present in most underground stations and come in a wide variety [Stookey, see Reference].
Photo: Ceramic station name mosaic at the refurbished 33rd Street station.
Try the following tour, recommended by residents or metro enthusiasts:
From Times Sq, take the Q (Broadway Express) to Coney Island and watch for views of the skyline and Brooklyn Bridge as the train goes across the Manhattan Bridge. From Coney Island Stillwell Av take the F to Jay St with the highest elevated tracks. If you look to the harbor, you will get a view of the Statue of Liberty. At Jay St is the Transit Museum. From Hoyt Schermerhorn St take the G either to Metropolitan Av and change to the automated line L or ride the G to Court St and change to line 7, nicknamed "International Express".
At 40th St and 61st St is former "Little Ireland" with Irish Pubs and "Little Manila" along Woodside Ave. 74th St: "Little India". 82th St - Jackson Heights to 103rd St: South and Central America. Flushing Main Street: NYC's largest Chinatown and "Little Korea".
On the 6 train beyond the Brooklyn Bridge/City Hall terminus it is said to be possible to stay on the train and ride the loop through the famous, ornate, abandoned City Hall station. After a few minutes you'll arrive at the opposite track of Brooklyn Bridge/City Hall again. The loop ride is said to be legal but City Hall is just dimly lit.
For other self-guided tours check nycsubway.org.
New York Transit Museum. Development of the greater NY metropolitan region through exhibitions, tours, educational programs, and workshops dealing with the cultural, social, and technological history of public transportation. Since 1976. Location: Abandoned Court Street IND station from 1936. Address: Corner of Boerum Place and Schermerhorn Street, Brooklyn Heights. At Borough Hall (2 3 4 5), Jay St (A C F), Court St (R), Hoyt-Schermerhorn St (A C G) metro station. Hours (check before visiting): Tue – Fri 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., Sat and Sun Noon to 5 p.m., closed Mondays and major holidays. Admission: 5 USD. Features: museum store, educational programs, special events. Reference: mta.info (official website).
During construction of a replacement for South Ferry station, the project hit a 15-meters-long section of a stone wall that archaeologists believe is a unique remnant of the original battery. It has probably been built in the late 17th century and protected the Colonial settlement at the southern tip of Manhattan. The find may delay subway construction and will possibly be displayed in a park or museum .
New York City once had a major network of elevated lines. In Manhattan, there were four principal lines (three running the whole length of Manhattan Island, and a fourth branching off one of the others and then running on its own for most of the length of the island), which extended into neighbouring boroughs. The origins of the network dated back to 1868. Some sections were directly replaced by new subway lines, while others were abandoned without replacement. Three of these lines closed between 1940 and 1942, with the fourth surviving until 1955. Remnants of the network in other boroughs survived longer - the last line in Brooklyn closed in 1969, and a short branch in the Bronx remained until 1973. Although at times there was common ownership, through ticketing, and limited through running with the subway network, the elevated was effectively a separate system. While some sections of the current subway network are also on elevated alignments, these use more substantial structures that can support the weight of the steel-bodied rolling stock that is needed for running underground; the "true" elevated system used lighter structures, which could only support the wooden-bodied cars that were hence banned from running into the subway. I'd guess that, in terms of mileage, more metro alignment has been abandoned in New York City than in the rest of the world combined. A streetcar or tram tunnel has been partly or wholly abandoned.
US Bombardier ART family Members: Beijing (Airport Line), Detroit (people mover), Kuala Lumpur (Kelana Jaya Line), Miami (Metromover), New York (AirTrain JFK), Toronto (Scarborough RT), Vancouver (Expo Line, Millennium Line), Yongin (EverLine), Characteristics: Similar 'automated rapid transit' trains. Vancouver and Kuala Lumpur use LIM technology.
Many subway lines have both Express and Local service with three or four tracks: normally, the inner one or two are used for Express trains. Express stations are typically major transfer points or destinations. The BMT Jamaica Line (J, Z) uses skip-stop service on portions, in which two services operate over the line during rush hours, and minor stations are only served by one of the two. Details are indicated in the official MTA map. A map showing the numbers of tracks: fotkica.com.
Staten Island Railway has express service, with some trains running non-stop between New Dorp and the ferry in the mornings and between the ferry and Great Kills in evening rush (peak direction only). This is not achieved via extra tracks - it's built into the schedule.
LIRR has several Express trains during rush hours.
Atlantic Ocean: Several elevated subway stations near Coney Island and Rockaway Beach. Atlantic Ocean: Long Beach station on the Long Island Railroad is only 6 blocks from the beach. In New Jersey (suburban New York), the North Jersey Coast Line has many stops near Atlantic Ocean beaches.
Line G at Smith/9th Streets offers a perfect view of the Manhattan Skyline (see picture). Line 7 provides a similar view at 33rd St-Rawson Queensboro Plaza. For a more detailed description of the sights see this MSNBC article.
Terminal loop - Line 6 - 1 station - going through the glamourous abandoned City Hall station without passengers, unidirectional. Terminal loop - Lines 1 and 9 - 1 station - at South Ferry station, unidirectional.
"Stand clear of the closing doors, please [ding-dong, ding-dong]" in newer trains by a pre-recorded voice (mp3 from subwaynut.com). In older trains, drivers often swallow a couple of syllables and only mumble something like "Clear closing doors!", or there's no announcement at all.
Northbound 6 train departing from 33rd Street station.