Visit USA - America's Best Travel Guide

New York City

New York Transit Museum

The New York Transit Museum is a museum which displays historical artifacts of the New York City Subway, bus, commuter rail, and bridge and tunnel systems; it is located in a decommissioned Court Street subway station in the Brooklyn Heights neighborhood of New York City. There is a smaller satellite annex in Grand Central Terminal, Manhattan.

The Museum
On July 4, 1976, the New York City Transit Exhibit opened in the decommissioned station as part of the United States Bicentennial celebration, with one subway token for admittance. Old cars which had been preserved, as well as models and other exhibits were displayed. Plans were to close it after the celebration, but it proved to be so popular that it remained open and eventually became a permanent museum.

The Transit Museum main entrance is located at the corner of Boerum Place and Schermerhorn Street. Also, there is a new, separate ADA-accessible entrance for those with physical disabilities.The Museum includes subway, bus, railway, bridge, and tunnel memorabilia and other exhibits including vintage signage, models and dioramas of subway, bus and other equipment, and lectures and seminars. Tours and programs are available at the Museum for all ages. The Museum also offers offsite programs which consist of guided tours of MTA facilities, subway stations, artwork and architecture, and New York neighborhoods, as well as opportunities to ride vintage railway and bus equipment.

The Station
Court Street station was built as a terminus for local trains of the IND Fulton Street Line and opened on April 9, 1936, along with a long section of the Fulton Street Line and the Rutgers Street Tunnel. The station has one center island platform with two tracks. The tracks end at bumper blocks just beyond the west end of the platform. A tile band of Aquamarine with a Cerulean Blue border is set in a course two tiles high, as is the case at most local stations.

The station demonstrated the IND service theory that specified that local trains should operate within individual boroughs where possible and provide transfers to express trains, which would be through-routed between the boroughs. Court Street was to be the northern terminal of the HH Fulton Street Local, which would run south to Euclid Avenue. Additionally, one of the plans for the Second Avenue Subway would have included a southern extension to Brooklyn, tying into the stub at Court Street to accommodate through service from Manhattan.

The HH through service was never inaugurated; the only trains to the station were part of the Court Street Shuttle, taking passengers from Court Street to the transfer station at Hoyt–Schermerhorn Streets. Due to the proximity of other stations in the Downtown Brooklyn area, as well as the need to transfer to reach it, Court Street never saw much service and was abandoned on June 1, 1946. However, it is still a functioning subway station; trains are moved into and out of the exhibits using the line between here and Hoyt–Schermerhorn station`s outer two tracks.

Current Exhibits
Currently, (as of January 2012) the Museum features several exhibits:

  • Steel Stone and Backbone, which highlights the challenges and labor involved in subway construction during the period 1900-1925.
  • Fare Collection, which explains different methods New Yorkers have used to pay subway fare over the years, and contains authentic subway turnstiles for passage through
  • ElectriCity: Powering New York`s Rails, an interactive exhibit showing the various types of electric power generation, how it gets to the subway and how electric motors work.
  • Show Me the Money: From the Turnstile to the Bank, which explains the old (pre-2006) process of revenue collection in the New York City Subway
  • On the Streets, which contains a comprehensive history of New York City`s street transportation from horse pulled vehicles to modern buses, as well as two bus installations visitors can sit in, including the driver`s seat
  • Clearing the Air, which discusses modern street transportation and its impact on the environment, and highlights steps that the MTA is taking to reduce its carbon footprint.
  • Stop Look and Listen, which allows visitors to enter a working subway signal tower dating from 1936 and see how trains are kept a safe distance apart and supervised
  • Moving the Millions, which chronicles the history of the subway system from the private operators to the MTA New York City Transit of today. Located on the platform level, it is designed to supplement a visitor`s experience exploring the various subway cars on display in the museum.