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Video by Untapped Cities contributor Bhushan Mondkar of the 2013 Nostalgia Train and Swing Party

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“The New York City Board of Transportation announced today that it will soon advertise for bids for the construction of 300 steel cars for service on the Eighth Avenue line. Each car will be equipped with five ceiling fans. The seats will be of heavy, natural-colored wicker. Illuminated route or destination signs will be installed on the sides and at both ends of cars. They will also permit easy movement of passengers through the end doors between cars, while the train is in motion!”

Ceiling fans! In a train?

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This isn’t a headline from 2013, but an article published in the Electric Railway Journal in November 1928! Of course, the  subway tunnels in NYC are beaming with shiny new trains, equipped with state of the art communication and safety systems, but this holiday season, the MTA has continued its six-year old tradition of running the famed and elusive nostalgia train. Rattling along a portion of the ‘M’ line, this gorgeous vintage train, characterized by its screeching sound effects and flickering naked light bulbs, transports us back in time!

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Bringing this vintage train to life are the advertising posters lining the top of the cars. You won’t find Dr Zizmore’s promise of a clear complexion, but definitely some informative and entertaining ads defining the golden era of this booming metropolis! To heighten the nostalgia, New Yorkers’ came out dressed to dance for a roaring-twenties style subway ball accompanied by energetic swing bands. Performing en route from Queens Plaza to the Lower East Side, the journey was followed by an exuberant dance finale on the 2nd Ave Platform!

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While Untapped Cities took this nostalgic train ride back in 2010 and shared some amazing moments over the past few years, this year we spent three weekends capturing the essence of this time traveling train on video. Of course we got some great visuals, but to experience the flavor of the seasoned locomotive cars and feel the invigorating breeze through your hair (thanks to the open windows!) you will have to ride back in time next Sunday when the nostalgia band wagon screeches one last time this year through the tunnels under sixth avenue!

Bhushan is an Architect and Urban Designer at Perkins Eastman. Get in touch with him @Bhushan_NYCThis article was written in part by Catherine Mondkar, with additional info from www.nycsubway.org

1 Comment

  1. Eleanor Lunn says:

    Great,Great,Great! I loved this article. It was joyful and the video was so intimate. I felt as if I was there. Thank you!

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