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Museum galleries are old subway platforms.
Museum galleries are old subway platforms.

New York Transit Museum

Field review by the editors.

Brooklyn, New York

The entrance to the New York Transit Museum looks like a typical subway station stairway. But instead of servicing harried commuters, this 60,000-square-foot facility houses an impressive display of transit history artifacts: everything from token to turnstiles -- not to mention about twenty historic subway cars.

Tokens and Slugs.
Tokens and Slugs.

After paying your entrance fee at the token booth, you enter the surprisingly odor-free museum through "Steel, Stone and Backbone," an exhibit about subway construction. Kids race on through; they don't care much about "boring" and "shoring" -- they want to get to the good stuff...the platform level! There you can board a display of vintage train cars, adorned with period replica advertisements for such products as Rinso, Burma Shave, and Oysterettes.

Transit Authority mannequin.
Transit Authority mannequin.

There are cane-seated, wood-clad examples from the early 1900s; gunmetal-hued, heavy duty behemoths of the sixties (amazingly sans graffiti!); and our favorite: the modern, streamlined R-11 Prototype (designed in 1949 in anticipation of the construction of the Second Avenue Subway...they're still working on that one!).

The decade-hopping is enjoyable, but proceed with caution! There are multiple signs warning you to stay off the tracks; this is a decommissioned but still operational station and the third rail is live.

Back up on the main level, the most entertaining displays involve cash, like the section about money room operations. A mannequin station agent seems dazed by the shiny sorting machines and piles of fake currency.

There's also a collection of imaginative "slugs" -- worthless little objects intended to be recognized as tokens by turnstiles in those pre-Metrocard days (We admit it, we're nostalgic for token suckers as well).

Vintage equipment.

And there's always a crush of kids wanting to steer the full-size, cut-a-way bus. It doesn't go anywhere, not unlike the M34 during rush hour.


New York Transit Museum

Boerum Place, Brooklyn, NY
Northwest corner of Boerum Place and Schermerhorn Street, Brooklyn. Closest subway stop is the 2, 3, 4, 5 at Borough Hall.
Th-F 10-4, Sa-Su 12-5 (Call to verify) Local health policies may affect hours and access.
Adults $10.
RA Rates:
Worth a Detour
Save to My Sights

Nearby Offbeat Places

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In the region:
9/11 Memorial Marker, Red Bank, NJ - 24 mi.

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