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2004-09-09 / From The Mayor...

NYC Transit Museum To Present Centennial Exhibit

Work gang caulking and tightening bolts on Manhattan side of the East River tube. October 4, 1907. Courtesy: New York Transit Museum Collection. The Interborough Rapid Transit (IRT) subway was a testimonial to the marvels of 20th Century engineering, technology, city planning, architecture, and design. New Yorkers heralded its October 1904 opening with elaborate celebrations and mementos commemorating a critical event that fostered the city’s rise to the center of world commerce, public affairs, media and the arts.

In its continuing commemoration of the subway’s centennial, the New York Transit Museum is presenting a new exhibition entitled, Centennial Celebra-tion, a rarely seen collection of subway artifacts and treasures culled from the collections of the New York Transit Museum, the Museum of the City of New York, The New York Historical Society and the private collection of George Cuhaj.

The exhibition will be on display from September 14, through next spring at the New York Transit Museum, at the corner of Boerum Place and Schermer-horn Street in Brooklyn Heights.

The exhibition features unique subway artifacts that highlight key moments in the 100-year history of the subway including the sterling silver shovel crafted by Tiffany & Co. that was used in the subway’s groundbreaking ceremony in March 1900. The wood used in the shovel’s handle came from the flagship Lawrence, which fought in Lake Erie during the war of 1812. Along with a printed invitation to the ground breaking ceremony the exhibition presents a collection of items, being exhibited together for the first time, that were produced in the 1900s to celebrate the opening of the subway.

Other interesting artifacts include: photographs of the opening of the subway at City Hall; the silver and steel controller handle Mayor McClellan used to operate the first subway train; a sterling silver loving cup presented to August Belmont by the vice president of the Interborough Rapid Transit Company; an invitation to the opening of the IRT with the menu from the dinner that evening; a City Hall station chandelier; architectural drawings; stock certificates - a letter opener; various maps detailing the new subway’s route, and subway tokens dating from 1953 to 2003. Other artifacts and images on exhibit reflect the construction of the subway, the IRT’s dual contracts expansion, and the unification of the city’s three subway lines in the 1940s. For additional information the public may contact the New York Transit Museum at (718) 694-1600 or log onto .

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