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Old NYC subway photos: Rare images of trains, overcrowding and more

The days of graffiti-covered subway cars may be long gone, but today's experience of riding the rails may not be so different from decades past.

As these rarely seen images show, yesterday's commuters also fought overcrowded platforms, pushed their way onto trains before the doors closed and had lonely waits on the platform before the next train to arrive.

The images are from the 1960s, 70s and 80s. And the more you look, the more you'll see echoes of your own present-day experience with the subway system. Whether that's cause for lament is another point entirely.

Brighton Beach, 1964

A lone passenger sits in a subway car
Photo Credit: Newsday / Mulvehill

A lone passenger sits in a subway car on the Brighton Beach line in Brooklyn. (June 1, 1964)

Mayor John Lindsay takes the subway, 1967

Mayor John Lindsay and City Council President Frank
Photo Credit: Alan Raia

Mayor John Lindsay and City Council President Frank O'Connor ride the subway back to City Hall after a news conference in support a transportation bond proposition. (Nov. 6, 1967)

Brooklyn, 1969

A woman waits on an elevated train platform
Photo Credit: Newsday / Harvey Weber

A woman waits on an elevated train platform along the Myrtle Avenue line in Brooklyn. Days later, service was discontinued on the elevated portion of the line, which spanned 35 blocks from Jay Street in Downtown Brooklyn to Broadway in Williamsburg. (Sept. 30, 1969)

Jamaica, 1972

A subway entrance at 179th Street and Hillside
Photo Credit: Newsday / Jim Nightingale

A subway entrance at 179th Street and Hillside Avenue in Jamaica, Queens. (Nov. 29, 1972)

Manhattan, 1972

Rail clerk Vera Turner's first duty at midnight
Photo Credit: Newsday / George Argeroplos

Rail clerk Vera Turner's first duty at midnight was to empty the tokens from the turnstiles at the subway station at 42nd Street and Seventh Avenue in Manhattan. (Jan 4, 1972)

Forest Hills, 1975

The west end of the mezzanine level of
Photo Credit: Newsday / Jim Peppler

The west end of the mezzanine level of the 71st Avenue Continental IND subway stop in Forest Hills, Queens. (Jan. 4, 1975)

Manhattan, 1978

Looking east toward Queens, one of the pilot
Photo Credit: Newsday / Dan Neville

Looking east toward Queens, one of the pilot tunnels under 63rd Street near Park Avenue used as "relief" holes for the blasting operations. These are where the explosions expand into when a blast occurs. These tunnels will then be widened into the final site of the tracks. (Oct. 24, 1978)

Flushing, 1980

Idle trains sitting in the transit yard on
Photo Credit: Newsday / Dan Neville

Idle trains sitting in the transit yard on Roosevelt Avenue near Shea Stadium in Flushing, Queens. (April 1, 1980)

Woodside, 1981

A lone woman sitting on the eastbound platform
Photo Credit: Newsday / Dan Neville

A lone woman sitting on the eastbound platform waits for a train at the Roosevelt Avenue and 74th Street subway station in Woodside, Queens. (June 1, 1981)

Brooklyn, 1983

Workers on the tracks, installing a new switch
Photo Credit: Newsday

Workers on the tracks, installing a new switch in a tunnel in the vicinity of Utica Avenue in Brooklyn. (Oct. 25, 1983)

Flushing, 1982

Commuters wait on the platform as a train
Photo Credit: Newsday / Audrey C. Tiernan

Commuters wait on the platform as a train pulls into the Main Street Flushing subway station. (Jan. 20, 1982)

Times Square, 1985

Commuters take advantage of the free subway fare
Photo Credit: Newsday / Ken Sawchuk

Commuters take advantage of the free subway fare just hours before midnight on New Year's Eve in a Times Square subway station. (Dec. 31, 1985)

Queens, 1985

A general view of the IRT overhead on
Photo Credit: Newsday / Bill Senft

A general view of the IRT overhead on Roosevelt Avenue, near the corner of 83rd Street in Queens. (May 20, 1985)

Flushing, 1985

A view of the No. 7 train at
Photo Credit: Newsday / Ozier Muhammad

A view of the No. 7 train at the Willetts Point subway station in Flushing, Queens. (May 9, 1985)

Midtown, 1986

A downtown passenger deliberates over his Ten-Pak as
Photo Credit: Newsday / Ari Mintz

A downtown passenger deliberates over his Ten-Pak as he prepares to pay the new $1 fare during the morning rush hour at the West 72nd Street and Broadway IRT station. (Jan. 2, 1986)

French-made R68 subway car

The new French-made R68 subway car passed all
Photo Credit: Chris Gierlich

The new French-made R68 subway car passed all of its tests with flying colors -- the first time a new subway car has proven itself the first time out. The shiny stainless steel interior is touted as being attractive and a deterrent against graffiti. (May 13, 1986)

Jamaica, 1987

A commuter goes through the turnstile at the
Photo Credit: Newsday / Richard Lee

A commuter goes through the turnstile at the 179th Street IND station. (Jan. 19, 1987)

South Ferry, 1985

Graffiti mars the old No. 1 train on
Photo Credit: Newsday / Jim Cummins

Graffiti mars the old No. 1 train on the Broadway line as it comes into the South Ferry subway station. (Nov. 22, 1985)

Overcrowded subway car

Riders cram into a subway car on the
Photo Credit: Newsday / Bruce Gilbert

Riders cram into a subway car on the E and F lines at the Third Avenue and 53rd Street station. (Sept. 9, 1987)

City Hall, 1990

Mothers, some with toddlers in tow, entering the
Photo Credit: Newsday / Jim Cummins

Mothers, some with toddlers in tow, entering the subway station at City Hall on the N and R lines in protest over a ban on strollers. (May 25, 1990)

Miss Subway reunion

Ellen Hart Strum, center, former Miss Subways March
Photo Credit: Newsday / Ozier Muhammad

Ellen Hart Strum, center, former Miss Subways March 1959, hosted a Miss Subways reunion at her restaurant, Uptown, at 56th Street and Sixth Avenue in Manhattan. Pictured to the left of Strum is Heide Hafner, the last Miss Subways (Sept. 1976), and pictured to her right is Edith Fagan, the earliest Miss Subways present at this reunion (March 1943). (May 13, 1991)

Brooklyn, 1991

Jimmy Sullivan, a token clerk who works the
Photo Credit: Gene Page

Jimmy Sullivan, a token clerk who works the midnight shift at the Bay 50th Street / B line subway station in Brooklyn. (Feb. 16, 1991)

New York Harbor, 1991

A barge tows refurbished subway cars across lower
Photo Credit: Newsday / Nanine Hartzenbusch

A barge tows refurbished subway cars across lower New York Harbor toward Brooklyn at dusk. According to the Transit Authority Public Affairs Office, the subway cars are refurbished in Hornell, New York, then shipped back from the western part of the state to Manhattan, the last leg by barge across the Harbor. These cars were newly refurbished and ready to be put into service. (May 1, 1991)

Manhattan, 1992

A crowded subway platform on the downtown side
Photo Credit: Newsday / Ken Sawchuk

A crowded subway platform on the downtown side of the 72nd Street station during the morning rush hour. (May 22, 1992)

Manhattan, 1991

Passengers exiting the subway. (Oct. 31, 1991)
Photo Credit: Newsday / Erica Berger

Passengers exiting the subway. (Oct. 31, 1991)

Bushwick, 1992

A Manhattan-bound L train enters the
Photo Credit: Newsday / Jonathan Fine

A Manhattan-bound L train enters the "tunnel of death," a three-mile section in Bushwick that has its lighting powered by service to the third rail. In the event power needs to be shut off for emergency reasons, the tunnel, train and its passengers would be in darkness. (Nov. 7, 1992)

Old tokens, 1992

The old token went from $1.15 to $1.25
Photo Credit: Newsday / Susan Farley

The old token went from $1.15 to $1.25 per ride at midnight on New Year's Day in 1992. (Dec. 31, 1991)

Brooklyn, 1993

A graffiti-laden subway station on Dean Street near
Photo Credit: Newsday / Phillip Davies

A graffiti-laden subway station on Dean Street near Franklin Street in Brooklyn, which serves the Franklin Street shuttle. (May 10, 1993)

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