Old subway photos to celebrate 112 years of service

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 1970s and the 1980s. 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.

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

A subway entrance at 179th Street and Hillside Avenue in Jamaica, Queens. (Nov. 29, 1972) (Credit: Newsday / Jim Nightingale)

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) (Credit: Newsday / George Argeroplos)



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

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) (Credit: Newsday / Dan Neville)

Idle trains sitting in the transit yard on Roosevelt Avenue near Shea Stadium in Flushing, Queens. (April 1, 1980) (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) (Credit: Newsday / Dan Neville)

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



Commuters wait on the platform as a train pulls into the Main Street Flushing subway station. (Jan. 20, 1982) (Credit: Newsday / Audrey C. Tiernan)

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) (Credit: Newsday / Ken Sawchuk)

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

A view of the No. 7 train at the Willetts Point subway station in Flushing, Queens. (May 9, 1985) (Credit: Newsday / Ozier Muhammad)

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) (Credit: Newsday / Ari Mintz)



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) (Credit: Chris Gierlich)

A commuter goes through the turnstile at the 179th Street IND station. (Jan. 19, 1987) (Credit: Newsday / Richard Lee)

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

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

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) (Credit: Newsday / Jim Cummins)



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) (Credit: Newsday / Ozier Muhammad)

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

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) (Credit: Newsday / Nanine Hartzenbusch)

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

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



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) (Credit: Newsday / Jonathan Fine)

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

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


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