Nostalgia Train Rides Again

The NYC Transit Authority on Saturdays in December is rolling out a nine–car nostalgia train at selected times through the day. For only $2.90–the basic price of a subway ride today–you can travel back in time on a subway car that last saw service 46 years ago.

| 09 Dec 2023 | 09:05

On every Saturday in December, subway riders are able to stop, look and listen to charming reminders of New York City’s transit history. These vintage Independent Subway System (IND) cars were once the pride of the first subway company operated by the City of New York.. Modern for their time, the R1/9s complimented the IND’s Depression-Era Art Deco aesthetic with real rattan seats, paddle ceiling fans, incandescent light bulbs, roll signs, and period advertisements. These preserved gems last saw regular service 46 years ago.

Offered since the NYC 2004 Subway Centennial, the “Nostalgia Train Rides” have been operated in collaboration with MTA New York City Transit. Always a special holiday treat, this year’s version combines an Intra-Manhattan F and D train routing from the Second Avenue Station on the Lower East Side all the way to the West 145th Street D train Station in Hamilton Heights.

This year, the Holiday Nostalgia Train will operate on Saturdays in December. Catch the next vintage train rides between 10am and 5pm on Saturday, December 9th, 16th, 23rd, and 30th as follows:

The Holiday Nostalgia Train departs 2nd Avenue on the uptown F line in Lower Manhattan at:10am, 12pm, 2pm and 4pm

The Holiday Nostalgia Train departs 145th Street on the downtown D line at 11am, 1pm, 3pm and the last trio of the day at 5pm.

Passengers can board the train at 2nd Avenue (F), Broadway-Lafayette Street (D/F), West 4th Street–Washington Square (D/F, A/C/E), 34th Street – Herald Square (D/F),, 42nd Street – Bryant Park (D/F), 47th – 50th Streets – Rockefeller Center (D/F), 59th Street – Columbus Circle (A/C/D), 125th Street (A/C/D), and 145th Street (A/C/D).

Accessible stations along the route include Broadway-Lafayette, West 4th Street–Washington Square, 34th Street–Herald Square, 59th Street–Columbus Circle, and 125th Street

The nine car equipment used on this train, already historic, were of the type that inspired Billy Strayhorn’s iconic “Take the A Train.” They entered service on the Eighth Avenue line (today’s A/C/E) in 1932 and are now preserved as part of the New York Transit Museum’s collection.

During the year, The Transit Museum runs trips all over the city using these and other historic equipment under their aegis for a lot more than a single subway fare, but this ride costs a single MetroCard swipe or OMNY tap. The Museum provides some of the oldest transit operating equipment in the United States

While this year’s routing sees no above ground daylight, the three-mile straightaway between Columbus Circle and 125th Street allows the pre-war train a chance to attain full speed. Unlike today’s sealed box subway cars, the Nostalgia Train assaults (in a positive way) the senses. Whether it’s the rotating fans above people’s heads, nostalgic advertisements for many long-gone products, the smell of ozone, conductors, perched precariously between cars, opening doors, operating train staff in uniform, it all mixes into one incredible, unforgettable experience.

For one father and daughter duo, who deemed it an incredible ride, had, at the last minute, found the train ride listed and decided to take it. They were out-of-towners, way out of town: Buenos Aires.

No matter whether you live at the northern tip of Manhattan, or almost at the southern tip of South America, for $2.90, take an enjoyable trip back to Manhattan of the 1930s this month.