110 years of subway car design in New York City

In the 110-year history of the New York City subway system, little has changed in the design of the trains and their cars. They are still basically rectangular-shaped boxes with doors, windows and chairs.

“They’re a friggin’ bore,” said subway historian James Greller. “Subway car design in the city of New York has not really matured to the rest of the world.”

Efforts to make radical changes have been derided, flopped or never made it from the prototype stage into mass use — as with the modern Second Avenue Subway cars built in 1949.

Some conveniences — such as air conditioning — have been introduced to make the ride more bearable. And the transition to stainless steel made trains less expensive.

At the New York Transit Museum in Brooklyn, nestled within a 1936 subway stop, visitors can see many of the old cars from throughout the years as pictured in this list.