The New York Transit Museum, one of the city’s leading cultural institutions is the largest museum in the United States devoted to urban public transportation history, and one of the premier institutions of its kind in the world. The Museum explores the development of the greater New York metropolitan region through the presentation of exhibitions, tours, educational programs and workshops dealing with the cultural, social and technological history of public transportation. Since its inception as a temporary exhibit in 1976, the Museum has grown in scope and popularity. The museum is housed in a historic 1936 IND subway station in Brooklyn Heights.
The New York Transit Museum’s refurbished galleries feature reinstalled popular exhibits such as Steel, Stone and Backbone, which recounts the tale of building New York City’s 100 year-old subway system, and many new highly interactive exhibitions such as On the Streets, an in-depth look at New York City’s trolleys and buses. New features of interest include user-friendly education workshops and a new computer resource center. With these and many other additions, a fresh and enriching educational experience of the history of New York’s regional transportation network awaits all visitors.
An orientation gallery that introduces visitors to the Museum, its mission, and its unique setting greets visitors. This orientation is expanded through an exhibition of artifacts and new acquisitions which provide an historical overview of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) and its operating agencies: New York City Transit; Long Island Rail Road; Long Island Bus; Metro-North Railroad; MTA Bridges and Tunnels, and predecessor companies.
HIGHLIGHTS OF THE MUSEUM
On the Streets: New York’s Trolleys and Buses, a new gallery dedicated to surface transportation presents, in nine complementing segments, a history of above ground mobility for the last 175 years - from the early 1800s through the 21st Century. The central element of this new exhibition is a simulated traffic intersection complete with traffic lights and coordinated walk-don’t-walk signs, parking meters, fire hydrants, and an array of other street “furniture.” Children of all ages will delight in a new, wheelchair accessible, twelve-seat bus; refurbished 1960s bus cab, and child-sized trolley. Audio interviews with New York City Transit’s Department of Buses personnel and a commissioned photo essay, A Day in the Life of a Bus complete the streetscape. Exhibition sidebars credit two men who were instrumental in the electrification of streetcars and railcars. Frank Julian Sprague (1857–1934), of European descent, often called “the father of electric railway traction” was responsible for the first large-scale successful use of electricity to run an entire system of streetcars in Richmond, Virginia, in 1887–1888; and Granville T. Woods (1856–1910), an African-American inventor who patented more than 60 devices over 30 years that sped development of telegraphs, telephones and electric trains. One of Woods’ most significant inventions, a third-rail system for conducting electric power to railway cars — successfully demonstrated in 1892 in Coney Island — made the subway a reality in New York City. The exhibition also tells the story of Elizabeth Jennings Graham (1830–1901), an African-American schoolteacher who won a landmark legal decision that defined the rights of people of color to ride any public conveyance on the city’s streets. Ms. Graham’s victory occurred 100 years before Rosa Parks won a U.S Supreme Court case in the 1950s, that gave African-Americans the right to sit anywhere in a public bus.
Clearing the Air, a highly interactive segment of On The Streets allows visitors to learn about the evolution of fuel technologies and evaluate their environmental impact. At a series of interactive stops within the exhibition, visitors are encouraged to compare old and new technologies and explore the origin of various fuels used over time, as well as understand steps being taken by Transit’s Department of Buses to reduce harmful emissions.
Admission And Tickets
$7 - Adults
$5 - Children 3–17 years of age and Seniors 62+
Museum members and children under 3: Free
Address: Boerum Pl. & Schermenhorn Street
Hours And Additional Info
Closed: Mondays and major holidays.
The New York Transit Museum operates a Gallery Annex & Store at Grand Central Terminal. It is located just off the main concourse in the Shuttle Passage
adjacent to the Station Masters’ Office. Admission is free. Open Monday–Friday: 8 AM to 8 PM, Saturday–Sunday: 10 AM to 6 PM
New York Transit Museum Tips & Links
1. Check out the archives!
The Museum's archives include collections of photographs, documents, posters and drawings relating to the history of public transportation in the metropolitan region. Admission is by appointment. Please call (718) 694-1068, Monday through Wednesday, 10 AM to 4 PM, for an appointment.