Vintage subway car at the New York Transit Museum with fabric “straphangers”. Photo via New York Transit Museum.

New York City’s straphangers may like to complain about the state of the subway or its unreliable service, but in the digital age, we’re enjoying many technological amenities such as train arrival clocks, air conditioned cars and underground Wi-Fi. Yet, there are many quirky and fun features from the old subway system that we wished the MTA would bring back. From straphangers to woven seats, here’s a round up of nostalgic vintage features that were once common sights.

For more subway history and fun facts, make sure to also join us on a future Underground Tour of the NYC Subway:

Underground Tour of the NYC Subway

11. Champagne and Bagel Bar Car

 

As part of a campaign to clean up the subway system in the 1960s the NYC Transit Authority (before it was incorporated into the MTA) introduced a “bar car” in 1962 on a subway running between Times Square and South Ferry. The bar car gave straphangers a taste of first class luxury with plush carpeting, draped curtains and pastel lighting.

As riders made their way downtown or back up to Times Square they could enjoy a glass of champagne and a pretzel or bagel. Though the bar car was only a one time publicity stunt, we think that brining it back would add a touch of class to our commutes. Read more about the “bar car” here.

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3 Responses
  1. The 1962 Bar Car on the IRT line was instituted by the NYC Transit Authority, not the Metropolitan Transportation Authority. The MTA is a state agency that was created in 1968. The Transit Authority was then incorporated into the MTA and continued to run most NYC subway and bus operations until it was renamed NYC Transit (they dropped “Authority” from the title) in the 1990s.

  2. Joel Bader Reply

    Didn’t banks also have branches in subway stations at one time? I recall seeing in a children’s book about tunnels and subways a photo of the Franklin National Bank’s branch office in a New York subway station. The book was published around 1960 or so.

  3. Eli Dardis Reply

    While I would love to see the City Hall station be reopened, there would be a huge risk of it being used as a terrorist bombing target. And the private cars would be nice for the elites who could afford both the car itself and regular maintenance.

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