Vintage Redbird leaves Queens Borough Hall en route to new home

The city’s vintage Redbird #9075 sold at auction for $235,700.
File photo by Ethan Marshall

A vintage Redbird subway car sold at auction this summer for nearly a quarter-million dollars has left its nest at Queens Borough Hall and flown away on the back of a truck en route to its new home in private hands.

The 51-foot, 73,000-pound Redbird with seating for 44 was picked up from its perch by a crane and plopped onto a flatbed truck Sunday morning. The new owner is Jasmine Levett, who purchased the retired train car at auction for $235,700 in July under the guise of her Los Angeles-based company House 32 LLC.

Levett did not respond to multiple requests for comment, and it remains unclear what she wants to do with the Redbird numbered 9075.

Redbirds entered service in the New York City Subway in various color schemes but were painted Tuscan Red in the 1980s to combat rampant graffiti. Levett’s bird was originally painted blue when it entered service in 1959. Redbirds were retired from the system in 2003, to be replaced with more modern stainless steel cars.

Like many retired subway cars of yore, most Redbirds were sunk in the Atlantic Ocean to create artificial reefs off the coast of Delaware. But Bird 9075, emblazoned with a 7 train insignia, was saved from the flock’s fate when it was purchased in 2005 for $1 by then-Queens Borough President Helen Marshall, who set it up on the grass outside Queens Borough Hall and rechristened it the Queens Tourism Center.

Unfortunately, the tourists were scant, and the center shuttered in 2015.

The Department of Citywide Administrative Services put the Redbird up for sale this summer, hoping a wealthy railfan would take it off the city’s hands like Saturday Night Live stars Colin Jost and Pete Davidson did with a vintage Staten Island Ferry. Bidding started at $6,500 and ended after 47 offers with Levett’s successful $235,700 proposal. The successful bidder was required to provide their own transportation to remove the train car to its new home.

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