Did you know that there are dozens of historic train cars and buses sitting underground in Downtown Brooklyn? No, it’s not a secret vault — it’s the New York Transit Museum. Located in a decommissioned 1936 subway station, the Transit Museum houses subway, bus, railway, bridge, and tunnel memorabilia as well as vintage signage, models and displays of subway, bus and other transit equipment. The museum originally opened in 1976 as part of the United States Bicentennial celebration. At the time, admission was just one subway token.
New York Transit Museum photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.
How to get there: The Transit Museum is located on the corner of Boerum Place and Schermerhorn Street in Downtown Brooklyn. To get there, you could take the 2/3 or 4/5 lines to Borough Hall; the R line to Court Street; the A/C or G trains to Hoyt-Schermerhorn Street; or the A/C, F, or R trains to Jay Street/MetroTech.
The old turnstiles | Cindy L. via Yelp
The details: The Museum is open Tuesday to Friday, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., and Saturday and Sunday from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. It is closed on Mondays and major holidays. Admission costs $7 for adults, $5 for children between the ages of 2 to 17, and $5 for senior citizens age 62 and up.
Inside the museum | no22a via Flickr
What to see: There are a number of different galleries telling the history of the MTA on display at the museum. (Here’s a list of new, rotating exhibits shown alongside many other permanent or long-term exhibits.) One popular long-term exhibit is Steel, Stone, and Backbone, which recounts the story of the construction of the city’s 100 year-old subway system. The interactive exhibit On The Streets is an in-depth look at New York City’s trolleys and buses — visitors can explore a simulated traffic intersection complete with traffic lights and coordinated walk/don’t walk signs, parking meters, fire hydrants, and a collection of “street furniture.” And the exhibit Fare Collection is a display of the different collection devices used throughout the subway system’s history. Visitors can interact with each one to see what it was like to pay a subway fare in a different time.
Vintage subway train | Katie Killary via Flickr
On the platform level of the museum, you’ll find two operational subway tracks that hold historic subway and railway equipment. The Transit Museum has a collection of preserved, historic subway cars that represent all the different years of public transit in New York. The museum also has an impressive vintage bus fleet.
Cars like this took people to Shea Stadium | Michael J. via Yelp
There’s also a plug-in circuit breaker on display that’s the size of a refrigerator, alongside a number of other artifacts relating to subway signaling and control, railway infrastructure, station maps and signage, and station artwork.
Another popular display is the underground signal tower control room that visitors can view through a window. That’s the facility used when this subway station was in service, and it’s still fully functional today.
Vintage bus fleet | Ann Althouse via Flickr
The museum is a great place for kids, who can fully explore the old subway trains and buses. There are also plenty of age-appropriate, interactive educational resources. And every Saturday and Sunday, the museum hosts weekend family programs that are free with paid admission.
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