Seeing an old 1950s Redbird subway car sitting on some isolated rails in a field next to the Queens Criminal Court is enough of a peculiar sight. What if we also told you that subway car has housed the borough’s tourist center since 2008, and that it closed last Monday without seeing any tourists?
The New York Post claims that the Redbird Tourist Center of Queens, which was only open on weekdays from 10 am to 2pm, had closed forever without seeing a single tourist. In reality, the center reports it had at least 12 visitors a day, though most are not tourists. Nevertheless, the numbers were low enough to lead Queens Borough President Melinda Katz to order the center’s closing, which took place on July 10th.
The majority of the visitors to the center, according to sole employee, Roxanne Solarsh, are on their way to criminal court and are often just curious about the center’s unconventional digs.
This last specimen of the Redbird subway cars has been on stationary display since 2005, the lone survivor when the entire Redbird fleet of 714 cars was decommissioned in 2003 and sunk off the coast of Delaware. Interestingly, the sunken cars have formed Redbird Reef, a bustling artificial outcropping of marine life in the Atlantic Ocean that has grown 400 times in size over seven years.
Redbird Reef as it appears today. Image via landingarchitecture
The subway car will remain at the Queens site, according to Katz, for the foreseeable future. A peek inside reveals only the subway car’s gutted interior, with no trace of the tourist center left and the only sign a warning that the area is under state surveillance.
Photo by Georgett Roberts for NY Post
It looks, at least for now, like the Redbird cars, apparently the last with individual metal handholds, won’t be completely gone.
Next, read about 5 of NYC’s Never Completed or Barely Used Ghost Subway Stations. Get in touch with the author @jinwoochong.