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December 17, 2019

Holiday Nostalgia Train: Take a Ride on a Vintage 1930s NYC Subway Car

Each year during the month of December, New York residents can witness the Holiday Nostalgia Train Rides up and running.

The MTA is bringing back Holiday Nostalgia Rides on vintage train cars, with the 1930s R1/9 train cars, which will depart from Second Avenue F train station. Here’s what the New York Transit Museum says:

“The Holiday Nostalgia Train consists of eight cars from the 1930s that ran along lettered lines through the late-1970s. The vintage Independent Subway System (IND) cars were used by the first subway company operated by the City of New York. Modern for their time, the R1/9s complimented the IND’s Depression-Era Art Deco aesthetic. Featuring rattan seats, paddle ceiling fans, incandescent light bulbs, roll signs, and period advertisements, these are the cars that inspired Billy Strayhorn’s “Take the A Train.” Today, they are preserved as part of the New York Transit Museum’s collection.”

The Holiday Nostalgia Train is made up of subway cars in service from 1932 until 1977. Three of the subway trains, from the 1930s, usually reside in the Brooklyn-based NY Transit Museum, which takes them out on a special-occasion-only basis.

Ceiling fans, padded seats, and incandescent light bulbs were state-of-the-art when these cars were first placed in service. Each car holds about 70 seats. About four cars are returned to service for the delight of nostalgic riders, train buffs, and folks looking for a funky way to time travel in the Big Apple.

Not only the trains but their fixers and mechanics, too, are a rarity. As one can imagine, these are historic cars, and only a handful of experts today actually know how to use and repair trains that were designed to function mechanically.

So, pick your era and go for a ride. You might dress up like a 1930s flapper or a 1960s fop...


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