Well here you have it: a GIF subway map of New York City that shows the subway lines in order of construction, created by Appealing Industries via Paste Magazine. You’ll notice that the first lines to appear are in Brooklyn, rather than the IRT line on Manhattan. The lines in Brooklyn were part of the Brooklyn Rapid Transit Company (later the Brooklyn-Manhattan Transit Corporation or BMT), created in 1896. They operated along existing surface railways and streetcar lines.
The IRT line, which was the first subway line to open, launched to great fanfare in 1904. You can see a vintage film of a ride on the IRT line in 1905 and photographs inside the original terminus of the IRT line, the impressive City Hall subway station that’s now closed off. It also has been noted that the map doesn’t take into account the elevated rail lines that came before.
Not on this map yet, the Second Avenue Subway and the 7 Line Extension. Check out behind the scenes photographs down inside the construction of the Second Avenue Subway. See more from our Fun Maps Column.