A century-old wooden subway car will roll out of the New York Transit Museum to join the city’s “Hometown Heroes” ticker-tape parade Wednesday, July 7, carrying transit workers who bravely kept the city moving throughout the darkest days of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We’re just really proud to be part of the Hometown Heroes Parade, because through this really difficult chapter in New York City history, once again our colleagues at Transit they showed up for a really hard chapter, as they did during 9/11, as they did during Superstorm Sandy,” said Concetta Bencivenga, director of the museum.
The 117-year-old train car, named Number 1273, was temporarily rolled out of its home at the Downtown Brooklyn museum inside a former subway station and will move up the Canyon of Heroes atop a flatbed truck, according to Bencivenga.
Number 1273 is one of hundreds of motorized timber trains that were introduced to the Five Boroughs at the beginning of the 20th century by the Brooklyn Rapid Transit Company.
It served straphangers mostly on elevated lines during its six-decade run, including on the Astoria and Flushing lines in Queens, the Third Avenue Elevated in Manhattan and the Myrtle Avenue Elevated in Brooklyn.
In their heyday, these vintage vehicles shuffled riders to the 1939 World’s Fair in Flushing Meadows, Queens, and they became known for their soft rattan seats and old-timey electric bulbs.
Manufactured by the Laconia Car Company in New Hampshire, 1273, has a so-called “gate car” design where passengers board through open-air vestibules at either end of the train.
Conductors had to manually open and close the metal entrance gates and ring a ceiling-mounted bell when everybody was on board signaling to the motorman to proceed.
The Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s New York City Transit wheeled the ancient model out of the museum and to a rail yard in Brooklyn Monday, where train workers transferred from the rails onto a flatbed truck Tuesday.
The truck will transport the living piece of subway history down the Canyon of Heroes with transit workers aboard for the festivities.
The last time a wooden-bodied subway car carried passengers in Manhattan was in 1955. A similar model was back on the rails in Manhattan as part of the Subway Series in 2000, but without riders on it.
On Wednesday, July 7, the train car will once again grace the Big Apple honoring transit workers as part of Mayor Bill de Blasio’s parade honoring essential workers.