A big story for October 27 – On this day in 1904, New York City Mayor George McClellan takes the controls on the inaugural run of the city’s new rapid transit system: the subway. Though London boasts the oldest underground train network (opened in 1863) and Boston built the first subway in the U.S. in 1897, New York’s soon became the largest American system.
The first line, operated by the Interborough Rapid Transit Company (IRT), traveled 9.1 miles past 28 stations. Starting at City Hall in lower Manhattan the subway travels to Grand Central Terminal in midtown, then west along 42nd Street to Times Square. The line turned north and ran all the way to 145th Street and Broadway in Harlem. The first day McClellan enjoyed being the engineer so much that he stayed on the controls the length of the line to 103rd Street.
In the evening of Oct. 27 the subway opened to the general public and more than 100,000 people paid their nickel to take their first ride.
A year later the service expanded to the Bronx and in 1908 to Brooklyn and Queens in 1915. In 1968 the Metropolitan Transport Authority has run the system that now has 26 lines and 468 stations. Every day roughly 4.5 million passengers take the subway in New York. It is the only rapid transit system that runs around the clock 365 days a year.
Written by Suzanne Marino