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I live in Brooklyn, NY and I love it here.  I came here for my career in 2009 and haven't once looked back. 

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Transit Museum….

I've wanted to go see the Transit Museum for a long time now.  Sunday, I finally found the time to go with a friend.  Man, is it cool!  The museum is housed in a decommissioned subway station in downtown Brooklyn and contains several exhibits, some of them interactive, as well as a slew of vintage subway cars that you can board, plastered with all the ads from the era when the cars were in service.

The first thing we saw was an exhibit about the process of building the subway tunnels, focusing on the people involved in the various tasks that went into engineering the massive public works project that is the New York City subway.  The history is fascinating, replete with stories of workers working on the underground tunnels getting sucked out of compressed air tunnels and shot out like a geyser into the East River, or getting buried by boulders dislodged by explosions.  More interesting even were the different methods for building the tunnels depending on the very wide range of geological situations across the city.  I was fascinated by how they actually excavated under the rivers.  Here's a link to a chapter from a book on the subway construction that specifically deals with construction methods.

After that exhibit, there were a few interactive bits that we checked out, mostly on the subject of electrical power in the subway.  Unable to contain myself, I suggested we go downstairs at this point and look at the old train cars, one of the main attractions as far as I'm concerned.  Other than there being a mass of screaming kids on a tour that we kept trying to avoid, it was really cool.  There are some twenty cars down there on the platform level from as far back as the early 1900s.  Some of the oldest ones had wicker seats and ceiling fans.  All of the old cars had ads on them from the period the car was in service.  Here are two that I snapped with my phone:

Going to the museum was a last minute snap decision, so I didn't have my good camera, or I would have taken more pics.  My friend took some that I will post as soon as she emails them to me.  I was really fascinated by the ads and informational posters.

Another cool thing that I wish I had photographed was plopped down in the center of the platform: the truck assembly from an older subway car.  It was really neat to see it all up close and cut away like that so you could see the different components.

Back upstairs, the last thing few things we perused were the array of vintage maps, the cutaways of old city buses and trolleys and a row of old turnstiles with descriptions of the history of why they switched form mechanical to electrical ones and how the current ones work (transactions take less than a tenth of a second with magnetic swipe cards!).

I was like a kid in a candy store the whole time.   More pictures are here:

NYC Transit Museum

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