Monday marks the 110th anniversary of the first subway running in New York City. Commemorative things are planned. Ya know, celebratory stuff. But the real fucking party was back in 1904 on the streets of Manhattan when the common man saw technology manifest in front of his or her eyes in the form of an underground machine. And New Yorkers partied their asses off.
At least, according to the news account by the New York Times. The authorless piece, which ran in the October 28, 1904 edition, describes a scene reminiscent of Mardi Gras, and in fact called it a “carnival.”
The first official train departed at 2:35:30PM, beginning at City Hall (where the current 4-5-6 trains run) and arrived at 145th street, taking “26 minutes.” Over 150,000 people rode the train that day, with 25,000 people an hour overall.
The party began at City Hall Park, with the crowd stretching all the way to the Brooklyn Bridge.
The account of people rising from the below for the first time is mesmerizing:
And then the celebration started:
The train’s path through Harlem pushed it above ground, and right through a baseball game:
Even 110 years ago, the Times noted how lame Manhattanites were:
Besides the documenting of a massive street party, another fascinating piece commemorating that day is a subway ifs and dont’s that ran in the Times on the same date. The last piece of advice in the column foreshadowed the subway graffiti movement, which happened over six decades later: “Don’t deface the station or trains. If you do, you are likely to be arrested.”