TAKE THE NOSTALGIA TOUR! A ride to Canarsie on 1927-vintage subway cars

Every year, the New York City Transit Museum trots out a vintage subway train from the golden era of transit and takes it for a three-hour spin along the subways and elevateds of the New York City Subway system.

One recent such trip [1998] saw the MTA bring out a BMT D-Type Triplex that first ran in 1927 along the Brighton Beach (today’s B/Q) and Franklin Avenue (today’s shuttle) lines. The cars were operated in three and four car units. In 1928, some of these cars were also used on the Fourth Avenue (R) and Sea Beach (N) lines. Sturdy and reliable, these cars saw regular service for almost forty years. Retirement of these cars begain in September 1964; they were replaced by the corrugated, stainless steel R-32 cars, some of which are still used today. The cars last saw regular service on the West End (D) line.


1927 subway cars are admitting passengers for the Nostalgia Train excursion at the Court Street platform of the New York City Transit Museum.

The Court Street station is now used exclusively by the Transit Museum, but it formerly saw regular service as a downtown spur of today’s A and C lines. Old records show a possible connection was on the drawing boards to connect it to the Whitehall station of the Broadway Line (R).

Presently, the Museum uses the station to house its permanent collection of subway cars going back to the early 1900s.


The 1928 BMT D-Type Triplexes show features that would be standard in many subway cars until the 1960s.

Green and white color scheme, wicker seats, incandescent lighting, and ceiling fans. Windows were manually operated (air conditioning was considered impossible in the trains until the 1950s and didn’t become a regular feature until the mid-70s).

In the Fifties, wicker seats gradually gave way to foam seats covered with red vinyl, but like the wicker, these seats proved vulnerable to assault by vandals. The MTA decided to go to plastic bench-style seats beginning in the 50s.


Detail of the doors of the Triplexes at the BMT Canarsie station.

The route of the Nostalgia tour took the Triplexes from the A line from the Museum, changing to the F tracks at West 34th Street, using the Chrystie Street Connection to the J tracks at Essex Street, changing to the L tracks in the East New York complex, and ending the run at Canarsie. The return trip gave Nostalgia tourers a rare glimpse of the East New York yards as the train looped around the repair facility before returning to the Museum.


The Triplex awaits its return run to the Transit Museum at the Canarsie station.

The Canarsie Line is unique in that it is the very last subway line that boasted a grade crossing, at East 105th Street.

Canarsie was among the last neighborhoods in Brooklyn to be developed, and a grade crossing was no big deal for the line. For years MTA executives didn’t acknowledge its existence!

The construction of housing projects in the area forced the MTA to eliminate the grade crossing in 1973.

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