The New York Subway: A Century of Progress in Motion - 1904-2004
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The Centennial

In 2004, the New York Subway reaches its 100th anniversary. Since it first opened in 1904, New York’s subway – the second oldest subway in the nation – has been the fastest and most popular mode of personal transportation in the city. Today it is the largest 24-hour operating subway system in the world, with 468 stations, 656 track miles and a fleet of more than 5,700 passenger cars. Its more than 26,000 employees help move 4.2-million riders daily around and through the Bronx, Manhattan, Queens, and Brooklyn, and to railroad terminals that connect the city to the suburbs of New York State, New Jersey, and Connecticut.

Such an active, vast, and historic system provides countless starting points for the exploration of a great many disciplines. The subway not only offers rich lessons about city, state and national history, but also demonstrates the real-world application of physics and math principles at work every day in powerful, although often unappreciated, ways. Observation of any aspect of the subway -- which is in perpetual motion as it carries people from all walks of life -- can lead to inspiration for original art work, film, poetry or literature.

This site encourages learners to actively learn some of the many lessons the subway has to offer -- through observation, exploration and inspiration.

New York Transit Museum photo depicting the "cut and cover" approach used to construct the subways.
Construction on the IRT subway, 42nd Street between Madison and Vanderbilt Avenue, May 15, 1902.

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New York Transit Museum Centennial Subway Student Activity Depot