One of the most “local” experiences for anyone visiting New York is subway riding. I always say it’s on the subway that the real New York routine happens. Subway always offers funny stories, interesting performances, and eccentric figures. But in addition to the entertainment factor, there is no denying the practicality: the subway has incredible coverage and works 24 hours a day. And I love it! I love being able to go everywhere using the subway, I think it’s incredible. Obviously, it would need a lot of improvement, but I try to focus on what’s good, especially after learning more about the history of the subway through our visit to the New York Transit Museum.
Founded in 1976, the New York Transit Museum is dedicated to telling and preserving the stories of mass transportation – extraordinary engineering feats, workers who labored in the tunnels over 100 years ago, communities that were drastically transformed, and the ever-evolving technology, design, and ridership of a system that runs 24 hours a day, every day of the year. Housed underground in an authentic 1936 subway station in Downtown Brooklyn, the Transit Museum’s working platform level spans a full city block and is home to a rotating selection of twenty vintage subway and elevated cars dating back to 1907. Through artifacts, pics, videos, and texts, the museum tells the story of the New York transportation system. One of the exhibits tells how the stations were built in the 1920s when the subway began to be developed. Precarious working conditions and accidents marked the period. My favorite exhibit is the one that shows how the MTA managed the transportation system in the face of various crises – such as September 11, Hurricane Sandy and a blackout. With photos and videos and testimonials of company employees, you can learn a little of what each of these episodes caused to the city.
At the platform, you can travel through time, visiting the trains from several decades, and see how everything has been modernizing. Loved seeing the vintage trains! The interior preserves advertisements and maps of each decade. Speaking of advertising, if you’ve come to New York, you know there is always some campaign on good manners and etiquette on the subway. And the New York Transit Museum has a room that brings together several posters from old campaigns. I loved it! And besides the trains, there is also a smaller area, dedicated to the bus system. You can get in and pretend that you are a driver.
I’ve told you a few times that I’m not a fan of museums, but I loved getting to know the city’s transportation system through the New York Transit Museum. It’s a different and incredible program! But you need to have a good understanding of English because there is so much content to be read and heard. Tickets cost $10 (adults) and $5 (children over 2 and seniors over 62). The museum is open from Tuesday to Friday from 10 am to 4 pm and on Saturdays and Sundays from 11 am to 5 pm.
Oh, and I could not stop talking about the museum’s souvenir shop, full of subway and New York City themed products, with options for all ages!
Address: Boerum Pl & Schermerhorn St.
Laura Peruchi is a Brazilian blogger, author, and entrepreneur. She has lived in Manhattan with her husband since 2014. Since then, she has shared on her blog varied content about the Big Apple. From travel tips, including unusual things to do, shopping tips, etiquette, restaurants, and a lot more, her blog has become a reference in Portuguese (also available in English) for anyone planning a trip to New York City.