Subway anniversary: Learn all about the MTA's history

The subway has been rumbling through New York City since Oct. 27, 1904, but it wasn't until 1968 that the Metropolitan Transportation Authority took over city transit.

From trains and buses to bridges and tunnels, the MTA plays a major role in keeping this city moving every day.

Take a look at key moments in the agency’s history, from before its inception through to present day.

Long before there was an MTA, there were several ways of getting around town, though these modes of transit were operated by private companies. On Oct. 27, 1904, the city's first official subway system (the Interborough Rapid Transit Company or IRT) made its debut in Manhattan, moving commuters between City Hall and 145th Street-Broadway, per the MTA. The IRT then rolled out subways in the Bronx in 1905, Brooklyn in 1908 and Queens in 1915. The Brooklyn Rapid Transit Company -- taken over by the Brooklyn-Manhattan Transit Corporation a few years later -- began providing service between Brooklyn and Manhattan in 1915, the MTA said. Private companies also ran the city's bus systems. The Fifth Avenue Coach Company was the first to offer bus service on July 13, 1907, according to the MTA. (Credit: New York Transit Museum)

The New York City Transit Authority was created by the New York State Legislature on June 15, 1953. As a public corporation, it was responsible for handling and operating city-owned buses, trolleys and subway routes at the time. After its creation, the agency was commonly referred to as the "TA," according to the MTA. Its headquarters was originally at 370 Jay St. in Brooklyn. It has since been renamed the MTA New York City Transit but should not be confused with the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, which was established as the agency's parent company in 1968. (Credit: Getty Images / Spencer Platt)

On July 25, 1953, token payment was introduced to the city's transit systems. The tokens replaced the use of coins, according to the MTA, and their introduction came along with a fare increase to 15 cents. Tokens were officially phased out in favor of the MetroCard in 2003. (Credit: Getty Images; New York Transit Museum)



New Yorkers bid farewell to the city's last two trolley lines -- along Brooklyn's McDonald Avenue and Church Avenue -- on Oct. 31, 1956, the MTA said. (Credit: Courtesy of New York Transit Museum )

Summer days were a little less dreary for bus commuters beginning on Sept. 11, 1966, when the MTA said it introduced 682 vehicles that had air conditioning. (Credit: Getty Images)

Imagine a crowded subway car without air conditioning; until 1967, that was a reality for New Yorkers. According to the MTA, the first successful train featuring air conditioning was brought into service on the F line on July 19, 1967. It wasn't until 1983, however, that new air-conditioned subway cars began arriving, the MTA said. (Credit: AFP/Getty Images / Jewel Samad)

On March 1, 1968, the New York State Legislature created the Metropolitan Transportation Authority as NYC Transit's parent company. The MTA oversees transportation in 12 counties. (Credit: Getty Images / Spencer Platt)

Originally called the Transit Exhibit, the city opened its first transit museum (now called the New York Transit Museum) at the former Court Street shuttle station in Downtown Brooklyn on July 1, 1976. (Credit: Nicole Brown)



The city had to go without buses and subways for 11 days due to a strike that began on April 1, 1980. (Credit: Getty Images / Spencer Platt)

NYC Transit introduced graffiti-free buses and subways on May 12, 1989, the MTA said. (Credit: Newsday / Jim Cummins)

New Yorkers got their first glimpse of the MetroCard on Sept. 19, 1996, when the MTA said it sent two buses to community centers, shopping centers and other locations to promote the new form of fare payment. On May 14, 1997, the entire subway system began accepting MetroCards. On July 4 of that same year, MetroCard Gold began allowing commuters to move from bus to subway, subway to bus, or bus to bus for free. (Credit: iStock)

The MTA first began selling unlimited 30- and seven-day MetroCards for a fixed price on July 4, 1998. (Credit: Meghan Giannotta)

The city installed the first MetroCard Vending Machines in two subway stations on Jan. 25, 1999, according to the MTA. There were 347 machines in service at 74 stations by the end of that year. (Credit: AFP/Getty Images / Emmanuel Dunand)



On Sept. 11, 2001, NYC Transit mobilized 3,500 employees and equipment to Ground Zero within hours of the terror attacks, the MTA said. MTA buses took people to safety and to places where medical assistance was being offered, the MTA said. (Credit: Getty Images / Daniel Barry)

Tokens were officially phased out of use on April 13, 2003, after nearly 50 years, per the MTA. Buses accepted tokens as fare through the end of 2003. (Credit: Newsday / Susan Farley)

When the largest power outage in U.S. history struck New York City, forcing the subways to shut down, the MTA said hundreds of thousands of people were able to get home using the city's buses. (Credit: Getty Images / Matthew Peyton)

The city celebrated the 100th anniversary of the subway on Oct. 27, 2004. The MTA said its transit employees dressed in turn-of-the-century costumes and greeted passersby in City Hall Park as a barbershop quartet sang period songs. Then-Mayor Michael Bloomberg proclaimed the day "Subway Centennial Day." (Credit: Getty Images / Spencer Platt)

Ground is broken for the Second Avenue subway project on April 12, 2007. The first phase of the project is scheduled to open on Dec. 31, 2016. (Credit: Charles Eckert)



The MTA said subway ridership in 2008 rose to 1.62 billion, a 3.9 percent increase from the year before. It was the highest annual total since 1950, according to the MTA. (Credit: AFP/Getty Images / Don Emmert)

The city launched its Bus Time program on two Manhattan routes on Oct. 14, 2010. The program allows customers to see estimated arrival times for buses at a specific stop. (Credit: Getty Images / Spencer Platt)

The MTA debuted FASTRACK on Jan. 9, 2012, aimed at making work on subways more efficient and cost-effective. (Credit: MTA / Patrick Cashin)

In 2015, the MTA said average subway ridership on a weekday was 5.7 million. Annual ridership for all of 2015 was 1.76 billion. Both are the highest ridership numbers the city has seen since 1948, according to the MTA. (Credit: Anthony Lanzilote)

After 22 years, the MetroCard may soon be coming to an end. The MTA has said it hopes to introduce new, open fare technology for payment and begin a slow phase-out of MetroCards in 2018. (Credit: Charles Eckert)



After being done away with in 2010 due to budget cuts, the W train is set to make a comeback on Nov. 7, the MTA announced earlier this year. The train will run local from the Whitehall Street station in lower Manhattan to the Astoria-Ditmars Boulevard station in Queens. The MTA moved to bring the W out of retirement so it can replace Q train service in Queens once the first phase of the Second Avenue subway launches in December. (Credit: Getty Images / Ezra Shaw)


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