New York Transit Museum
21st August 2007
© copyright photographs by Colin Duff


MTA Metrocard ticket front

The New York Transit Museum is in the mothballed IND Schermerhorn Street Subway station close to Borough Hall in Brooklyn. The Transit Museum is similar in function to the London Transport Museum in Covent Garden.  However, unlike the museum in Covent Garden, the museum in Brooklyn majors on the Subway system, it being difficult to get buses down into a below street level Subway station!  The museum features a number of exhibitions detailing transportation before the subway system, the development of the subway system, the bus network and MTA bridges plus a large number of transport related artifacts. 

Steeplecab electric locomotive #5

However, the best bit for me was on the lower platform level - the display of twelve different types of subway car, which, better still, are kept on the juice.  As one of my enthusiasms is the Southern Electric system I know the electrics of preserved stock survive better if kept energised.  I found out subsequently that the museum has a larger collection of subway cars and they are periodically rotated on display, being moved over the subway network to do so as Schermerhorn Street Station is still connected to the system.

Due to very low lighting levels and restricted space it is not the best place to take photographs but this did not stop me doing so, the result being rather grainy but at least a valued record of the visit.  Photographs are permitted but only for private use and tripods are not allowed.

Left, steeplecab electric locomotive #5 is used to move the preserved cars around the subway system

I have but two criticisms of an otherwise terrific museum.  Namely that (at least during our visit) there was a total absence of “interpretative” staff to assist and ask questions of – indeed other than in the pay booth and store no staff were apparent at all.  Also, if there was a comprehensive museum guide, not only was it not being pushed, but not obviously on sale.

If you would like to find out more about the New York Subway system a visit to the excellent, comprehensive and informative website is highly recommended. Also, for current operation, the MTA website. Better still, visit New York, ride the Subway and visit the museum! In my opinion, New York is always worth a visit.


BMT D-type car 6095c  
Exterior of BMT D-type car 6095c Built by the Pressed Steel Corporation the BMT (Brooklyn-Manhattan Transit, formerly Brooklyn Rapid Transport - BRT) D type units ran between May 1927 and July 1965. The "c" suffix and use of the word unit are clues that these were not single cars. The D-types were articulated three car units known as triplexes, the articulated bogies being powered and the bogies at the outer ends trailers.
Interior of BMT D-type car 6095c There were a total of 122 D-types and these were the heaviest cars ever to run on the New York Subway system. The use of steel was driven by pressure to replace wooden bodied cars on safety grounds.


BMT Q-type car 1612c  
Exterior of BMT Q-type car 1612c The wooden BMT Q-type units ("Q" for Queens) were originally built between 1903 and 1908 as open platform single cars for use on elevated parts of the BRT. In the late 1930s they were rebuilt and modernised into enclosed three car units with doors at the quarter points and control systems modified for motor-trailer-motor operation. This work being in connection with the 1939 World's Fair.
Interior of BMT Q-type car 1612c

The Q-types were again modified in 1950 when on redeployment their motor cars gained lighter weight bogies from IRT (Interborough Rapid Transport) composite cars (not the same use of the word in the UK - see next page for explanation) and in 1959 when their roofs were lowered so they could travel through Subway tunnels for maintenance at Coney Island shops.

1612c saw use as a de-icing car following withdrawal in the late 1960s. It was subsequently restored to its late 1930s condition, though I suspect still with the modified roof and bogies.

Another, full, Q set 1622 A, B, C has been restored to its open platform condition, see the next page...

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