2. A Silver Controller Was Made Just For the Opening

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Delivered in a mahogany case, the silver controller for the first New York City subway train was inscribed with the message: “Controller used by the Hon. George B. McClellan, Mayor of New York City, in starting the first train on the Rapid Transit Railroad from the City Hall station, New York, Thursday, Oct. 27, 1904. Presented by the Hon. George B. McClellan by August Belmont, President of the Interborough Rapid Transit Company.”

Apparently, however, the silver controller wasn’t quite the right size, as noted by The New York TimesIRT General Manager Hedley remarks, “Doesn’t fit very well,” after the controller was fitted on the motor. As a result of the bad fit, the emergency brake lever got pulled in the first few minutes of the ride, “causing a violent jolt, a sudden stop,” with passengers “thrown forward as though the train had struck an obstruction,” writes The New York Times. Hedley makes a quick adjustment and the rest of the ride is fine.