Learn About the New York Transit Museum


One significant event in New York in 1976 was the creation of The New York Transit Museum in Downtown Brooklyn, but Brooklyn Museum is another thing. When entering this historic subway station, don’t hope to catch a train.

The main museum of The New York Transit Museum is housed in an authentic decommissioned Court Street subway station that commemorates the region’s public transportation system way back in 1936 and showcases all of its facets, from construction equipment to old subway vehicles to typography in the stations. It includes a satellite Museum Annex at Midtown Manhattan’s Grand Central Terminal.

The New York Transit Museum is one of the top museums to visit in New York City and it’s a  self-sufficient part of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority.

The museum was devoted to telling and preserving the stories of mass transportation – extraordinary engineering feats, workers who toiled in the tunnels over a century ago, communities that were profoundly altered, and the ever-evolving technology, design, and ridership of a system that operates 24 hours a day, every day each year.

How It All Started As A Station

The museum is in a real subway stop formerly known as Court Street. The Court Street station, a lengthy portion of the Fulton Street Line, and the Rutgers Street Tunnel were all inaugurated on April 9, 1936, serving as the IND Fulton Street Line’s station for local trains.

One central island platform with two tracks makes up the station. Just before the platform’s westernmost edge, at bumper blocks, the tracks come to an end.

The station served as a model of the IND service theory and the design of the majority of Manhattan trunk lines, which mandated that local trains should, whenever possible, operate within individual boroughs and offer transfers to express trains that would travel through routes between the boroughs.

The HH Fulton Street Local was supposed to have Court Street as its northern terminus and travel south (geographically east) to Euclid Avenue.

The Second Avenue Subway’s alternative designs also called for a southern extension to Brooklyn that would have connected to the Court Street stub to allow for through service to and from Manhattan.

The Court Street Shuttle, which transports passengers from Court Street to the transfer station at Hoyt-Schermerhorn Streets, was the only train to serve the station; the HH through service was never inaugurated. Court Street never had much traffic and was abandoned on June 1, 1946, since it was close to other stations in Downtown Brooklyn and required a transfer to get there.

Trains can enter and exit the exhibits using the tunnel at Hoyt-Schermerhorn Street station, which is situated between the station platforms and the outer tracks. Most of the street entrances were sealed once the station was shut down.

Non-revenue trains periodically ran to and from the station while it was off limits to the public to “keep the rails cleaned.”

The walls of the Court Street station in New York City were soiled after years of inactivity, so the New York City Transit Authority decided to test a new cleaning method on them on March 15, 1960.

Exhibits And Programs

As part of the US celebrations for its 200th anniversary, the abandoned underground station housed the New York City Transit Exhibit, which was opened on July 4, 1976. Admission costs one subway token. There were old, preserved subway vehicles, models, and other artifacts on show.

The museum was initially only supposed to be open until September 7 that year, but due to its overwhelming popularity, it stayed open longer and eventually became a permanent attraction. When it first opened, museum nostalgia trains made sporadic hour-long stops at the exhibit as they traveled between 57th Street, Sixth Avenue, and Rockaway Park on weekends.

The Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) took over the management of the Transit Museum from the New York City Transit Authority in the middle of the 1990s.

The museum’s focus was broadened to cover additional facets of transportation services offered within the MTA territory, such as commuter rail (Metro-North, Staten Island Railway, and Long Island Rail Road), roads, tunnels, and bridges (MTA Bridges and Tunnels).

Since that time, recurring displays on the mezzanine level have regularly focused on commuter railroad and bridge/tunnel operations and their history.

What The Transit Museum Offers

The museum also has a gallery annex, a gift shop at Grand Central Terminal, and a gift shop at 2 Broadway in Lower Manhattan that sells items with MTA themes.

A twenty-car rotating collection of antique elevated and subway vehicles dating back to 1907 is housed on the Transit Museum’s working platform level, which covers an entire city block.

Visitors can ride historic cars, operate a city bus, pass through a time tunnel made of turnstiles, and view exhibits that describe mass transit’s cultural, sociological, and technological history and its potential in the future.

Things To Know For Your Visit At The New York Transit Museum

The museum is open from Thursday to Sunday from 10 am to 4 pm. Visiting guests will be greeted warmly by the New York Transit Museum at its Court Street station location. You must purchase your tickets in advance. Please be advised that the Museum does not permit group visits. Visit their virtual offerings in the Programs section if your school or camp considers a field trip.

Before you go, be aware of the following:

  1. Please be aware that Museum members are only permitted to enter during their first ticketed hour of the day. From 10:30 am, non-members are welcome to reserve any open time slot.
  2. Arrive no earlier than five minutes before the scheduled time. Beginning with the time of your reservation, you will have a 30-minute window to see the museum.
  3. There are strict capacity restrictions for each admittance time to provide visitors more room to safely and comfortably explore the museum.
  4. Once you leave the museum, you won’t be allowed to come back in.
  5. Tickets must be displayed upon arrival and may be either printed ahead of time or displayed on a mobile device.
  6. There is no refund for tickets. If there is still room, you may transfer your tickets to a future date if illness prevents you from going. If you need to reschedule your visit, kindly contact their official website at least 24 hours before the time on your original ticket.
  7. Despite your Covid19 vaccination, all visitors 2 years of age and older must wear a mask at all times while within the Museum. Nothing will be an exception. Face shields by themselves are insufficient. Face coverings such as bandanas, scarves, gaiters, and masks with one-way valves are insufficient.
  8. Visitors are asked to distance themselves physically. Keep two tiles between you and other visitors since the floor tiles at the Museum are 3 feet wide, and make it simple to determine whether you are approaching too closely.
  9. There isn’t a coat or bag check at the museum. To provide more room for visitors inside the displays, kindly refrain from bringing bulky luggage to the museum. At the back of the museum, there is an unsupervised stroller parking space.
  10. While you are welcome to take pictures during your visit, the Transit Museum does not currently accept personal or professional photo sessions. Masks must always be worn, even when taking pictures.
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