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Historical Photos of New York City Subway

The first underground line of the New York City Subway opened on October 27, 1904, about 35 years after the first elevated train line. At first they were owned and run by private companies. In 1932, NYC open the first city-owned line and bought the two private systems. Nowadays, the New York City Subway has 469 stations in operation, which makes it the largest rapid transit system in the world by number of stations. Check out these historical and vintage photos of New York City Subway.

Read more about the History of the New York City Subway on Wikipedia.

1. This is an 1878 view of the Third Avenue Line El train tracks, looking north up the east side of the Bowery, at Chatham Square in lower Manhattan, New York. (Photo by AP Photo)

This is an 1878 view of the Third Avenue Line El train tracks

2. This group of financiers and city officials get a tour of New York City’s first subway in January 1904 while the city’s policemen stood by on the platform at City Hall Station. Seated toward the front of the ceremonial flat car are Alexander Orr, August Belmont, John B. McDonald, and Mayor George B. McClellen. (AP Photo/NYC Transit Authority)

This group of financiers and city officials get a tour of New York Citys first subway in January 1904

3. This is excavation at Lafayette Street, then known as Elm Street, near Pearl Street, for New York’s subway line, seen May 6, 1901. (AP Photo)

This is excavation at Lafayette Street

4. This is an undated photo of a New York City subway car, the “A” train. (AP Photo)

This is an undated photo of a New York City subway car

5. A man gets change in nickels from a change booth operator so he can pass through the new nickel-operated turnstiles which have replaced the ticket and ticket-chopper (a man who manually cut tickets at the gate) system in the New York City subway, early 1920s. The move allowed subway companies to reduce operating costs by drastically reducing personnel. (FPG/Getty Images)

A man gets change in nickels from a change booth operator

6. Work begins for an underground replacement for the Sixth Avenue “El” (elevated train), shown looking north from 42nd Street, July 28, 1936. The El is to be demolished in 1939. (AP Photo/HS)

Work begins for an underground replacement for the Sixth Avenue

7. Steel cars for the new 8th Avenue subway in New York, in May 1937. (AP Photo)

Steel cars for the new 8th Avenue subway in New York, in May 1937

8. Robert Wadlow, 18, of Alton, Ill., enters a turnstile at a New York City subway station, April 7, 1937. (AP Photo)

Robert Wadlow, 18, of Alton, Ill., enters a turnstile at a New York City subway station, April 7, 1937

9. This is an interior view of the new 8th Avenue subway car in New York City, May 1937. (AP Photo)

This is an interior view of the new 8th Avenue subway car in New York City, May 1937

10. The new streamlined red, white and blue Rapid Transit car which made its “maiden voyage” along the BMT lines in New York, March 28, 1939. It weighs 76,000 pounds, about half the weight of the conventional cars, and is equipped with special sound-deadening and shock-cushioning devices. (AP Photo)

The new streamlined red, white and blue Rapid Transit car

11. Air conditioned and equipped with upholstered green mohair cushions, a new streamlined luxury car of the BMT lines made its inaugural run in New York, March 28, 1939. This group tried out the comforts of the new car which will be placed in operation March 30. Sound-deadening and shock-absorbing devices are part of the new equipment. (AP Photo)

Air conditioned and equipped with upholstered green mohair cushions, a new streamlined luxury car

12. The Ninth Avenue “El” or elevated, is shown looking north along State Street in New York, Feb. 22, 1940. The transit commission has authorized the condemnation of the structure. (AP Photo)

The Ninth Avenue El or elevated, is shown looking north along State Street in New York, Feb 22, 1940

13. The Ninth Avenue “El”, or elevated, tracks are seen looking south at 33rd Street in New York, Feb. 22, 1940. The transit commission authorized condemnation of the structure. (AP Photo)

The Ninth Avenue El, or elevated, tracks are seen looking south at 33rd Street in New York, Feb 22, 1940

14. This view shows the 42nd Street subway entrance and store fronts in New York City on April 2, 1940. (AP Photo)

This view shows the 42nd Street subway entrance and store fronts in New York City on April 2, 1940

15. The Ninth Avenue “El” or elevated, tracks are seen from the southeast corner of Columbus Avenue and 62nd Street looking south, in New York, Oct. 7, 1940. The transit commission has authorized the condemnation of the structure. (AP Photo)

The Ninth Avenue "El" or elevated, tracks are seen from the southeast corner of Columbus Avenue and 62nd Street looking south, in New York, Oct. 7, 1940. The transit commission has authorized the condemnation of the structure. (AP Photo)

16. Mayor John F. Carr of Medford, Mass., Mayor Maurice J. Tobin of Boston, and Mayor Fiorello La Guardia of New York, left to right, take a subway to go from City Hall to their hotel for lunch in New York, Aug. 5, 1942, after conferring with mayors of Atlantic Coast cities on gasoline and fuel problems for the northeast. (AP Photo/Abe Fox)

Mayor John F Carr of Medford, Mass, Mayor Maurice J Tobin of Boston, and Mayor Fiorello La Guardia of New York

17. New Yorkers, caught in a surprise air raid warning alert seek shelter in stores and subways. A crowd waits for the “all clear” in a subway station at Lexington Avenue and 51st street, Oct. 22, 1942. (AP Photo)

New Yorkers, caught in a surprise air raid warning alert seek shelter in stores and subways

18. Interior view of the subway car of the future as it was displayed at the Chambers Street Station of the Independent Division in New York on July 9, 1947. The new car has 56 seats, 14 adjustable, exhaust ventilators, eight 10-inch fans, is painted blue and grey and has an off-white ceiling. (AP Photo/Anthony Camerano)

Interior view of the subway car of the future as it was displayed at the Chambers Street Station

19. New York City subway worker squeezes one more onto a train car, May 5, 1943. (AP Photo)

New York City subway worker squeezes one more onto a train car, May 5, 1943

20. The photo shows the Bowery where it intersects with Canal Street in New York, 1947. The Third Avenue El, or, Elevated, train is on the left. (AP Photo/Ed Ford)

The photo shows the Bowery where it intersects with Canal Street in New York, 1947

21. A brother and his sister look up at a newsstand, located on the platform of the New York city subway, as they wait for the train to Coney Island, New York, 1948. (Getty Images)

A brother and his sister look up at a newsstand

22. Vincent R. Impellitteri, right, acting mayor of New York City, and Brooklyn Borough President John Cashmore (second from right), inspect the first completed subway car of an order for 750, at the American Car and Foundry Co., Berwick, Penn., Feb. 20, 1948. C.J. Hardy, Sr., company chairman, points out a feature of the new cars. Men inside subway cab are unidentified. (AP Photo/HG)

Vincent R Impellitteri and Brooklyn Borough President John Cashmore inspect the first completed subway car

23. Carmen Gherdol of Long Island City, N.Y. drops the last nickel permitted to be dropped in one of the BMT-IRT subway turnstiles at Times Square, New York, June 30, 1948 when the fare was raised to ten cents for a subway ride in New York City. Assistant supervisor Bartholomew Barry, left, prepares to pull a canvas cover over the slot, until it is changed over to receive the smaller coin. Others are unidentified. (AP Photo/Matty Zimmerman)

Carmen Gherdol of Long Island City, NY drops the last nickel permitted to be dropped in one of the BMT-IRT subway turnstiles

24. Changing from one subway line to another, passengers at the IND line’s Broadway-Nassau St. station crowd through aisles to get free transfers from transportation employees under the city’s new ten-cent fare, July 1, 1948. Transfer is required here where three lines meet, to prevent passengers from coming in from street and obtaining free rides. Confusion resulted when some passengers neglected to obtain their transfers. Guards permitted them to go back for transfers but many, rather than waste time, paid another dime. (AP Photo/Anthony Camerano)

Changing from one subway line to another

25. Patterned asbestos tile flooring, increased and improved fluorescent lighting, illuminated route and destination signs, double roofs, and electronically controlled heat and ventilation, improved brakes and door controls, and foam and vinyl seats are among major changes designed for passenger comfort and greater operational and maintenance efficiency in New York City subway cars on October 26, 1954. (AP Photo)

Patterned asbestos tile flooring, increased and improved fluorescent lighting

26. A subway station in New York in 1955. (Three Lions/Getty Images)

A subway station in New York in 1955

27. Crowd at Times Square station subway in New York City on March 6, 1956. (AP Photo/HVN)

Crowd at Times Square station subway in New York City on March 6, 1956

28. Mayor Robert Wagner of New York moves across damaged tracks in the Astor Place Station of the IRT’s Lexington Avenue line with assistance of inspector Edward Stanley, left, during a brief tour of the station, July 1, 1956. Mayor Wagner announced after inspecting the tracks that service would be restored on the East Side line on July 20. Service was disrupted on July 14 when water poured on the nearby Wanamaker store fire flooded the station and caused the tracks to sink. (AP Photo/John Lent)

Mayor Robert Wagner of New York moves across damaged tracks

29. While other subway passengers perspire in the warm and humid underground station, Paul Forman appears cool and comfortable in the experimental air conditioned train which made its first run in New York City, July 9, 1956. The test run, which included six air conditioned cars and two old cars, was made on the East Side IRT line. The new cars provide soft music, modern design, air cooling units, deodorizers and filters to reduce germs. When the train left Grand Central Station the temperature was 89-degrees in the old cars while the new cars registered 76.5 degrees. (AP Photo/Harry Harris)

Paul Forman appears cool and comfortable in the experimental air conditioned train

30. Subway commissioner Joseph E. O’Grady, left, and Transit Authority Chairman Charles L. Patterson try straphanging and feeling the cool air coming from the ceiling ducts in an air conditioned subway car, July 9, 1956. (AP Photo/Harry Harris)

Subway commissioner Joseph E OGrady and Transit Authority Chairman Charles L Patterson

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Brian Wickham
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My step father was a booth attendant in the subway before WW2. He told me they used to call the guys who did that job, “Count Nickels.”

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