On This Date: October 27th

Oct 27, 1904:
New York City subway opens

At 2:35 on the afternoon of October 27, 1904, New York City Mayor George McClellan takes the controls on the inaugural run of the city’s innovative new rapid transit system: the subway.

City Hall subway station, New York

While London boasts the world’s oldest underground train network (opened in 1863) and Boston built the first subway in the United States in 1897, the New York City subway soon became the largest American system. The first line, operated by the Interborough Rapid Transit Company (IRT), traveled 9.1 miles through 28 stations. Running from City Hall in lower Manhattan to Grand Central Terminal in midtown, and then heading west along 42nd Street to Times Square, the line finished by zipping north, all the way to 145th Street and Broadway in Harlem. On opening day, Mayor McClellan so enjoyed his stint as engineer that he stayed at the controls all the way from City Hall to 103rd Street.

Political cartoon that ran in the New York Her...

At 7 p.m. that evening, the subway opened to the general public, and more than 100,000 people paid a nickel each to take their first ride under Manhattan. IRT service expanded to the Bronx in 1905, to Brooklyn in 1908 and to Queens in 1915. Since 1968, the subway has been controlled by the Metropolitan Transport Authority (MTA). The system now has 26 lines and 468 stations in operation; the longest line, the 8th Avenue “A” Express train, stretches more than 32 miles, from the northern tip of Manhattan to the far southeast corner of Queens.

Every day, some 4.5 million passengers take the subway in New York. With the exception of the PATH train connecting New York with New Jersey and some parts of Chicago‘s elevated train system, New York’s subway is the only rapid transit system in the world that runs 24 hours a day, seven days a week. No matter how crowded or dirty, the subway is one New York City institution few New Yorkers—or tourists—could do without.

Also on This Day

American Revolution
King George III speaks to Parliament of American rebellion, 1775
Chick-fil-A founder takes last Ford Taurus, 2006
Civil War
Yankees are turned back at the Battle of Hatcher’s Run, 1864
Cold War
The United States and Soviet Union step back from brink of nuclear war, 1962
Mafia boss John Gotti is born, 1940
Avalanche buries homes in Iceland, 1995
General Interest
Quakers executed for religious beliefs, 1659
Teddy Roosevelt born, 1858
Dylan Thomas born, 1914
U.S. prison population exceeds one million, 1994
Actress Ruby Dee born, 1924
Sylvia Plath is born, 1932
Tim Rice and Andrew Lloyd Webber release Jesus Christ Superstar, 1970
Old West
Joseph Glidden applies for a patent on his barbed wire design, 1873
Theodore Roosevelt is born, 1858
Red Sox win first championship since 1918, 2004
Vietnam War
Ambassador Harriman sent to explain Manila offer, 1966
Cambodian troops battle Communists north of Phnom Penh, 1971
World War I
German general Erich Ludendorff resigns , 1918
World War II
De Gaulle sets up the Empire Defense Council, 1940
This Week in History, Oct 27 – Nov 2

Oct 27, 1904
New York City subway opens
Oct 28, 1965
Gateway Arch completed
Oct 29, 1998
John Glenn returns to space
Oct 30, 1938
Welles scares nation
Oct 31, 1517
Martin Luther posts 95 theses
Nov 01, 1512
Sistine Chapel ceiling opens to public
Nov 02, 1947
Spruce Goose flies

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