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Subway Train, New York City, 1936

Train in Schermerhorn Street Subway Station, Brooklyn, New York
New York State Archives, NYSA_A3045-78_Dn_NY78
Document Description
A train coming into the Schermerhorn Street Subway Station, New York City, 1936.
How does the subway system alleviate pedestrian and automotive traffic throughout the city?
How much has the subway fare increased since 1920?
Why would a city opt for an underground railroad instead of an elevated train?
Historical Challenges
Research the difficulties construction workers encountered when digging the subway in New York City. Are the subway tunnels used for any other reason? Which cities had subway systems before New York City? What other cities use subways today?
Interdisciplinary Connections
Math: Approximately how much money does the subway take in on an average day in New York City?
Science: Research what kind of energy the subway system runs on. Is it comparable to any other forms of transportation?
English Language Arts: Write an essay about which is more efficient: the elevated train or the subway.
Brimner, Larry Dane. Subway: The Story of Tunnels, Tubes, and Tracks. Honesdale, PA: Boyds Mill Press, 2004. ISBN: 1590781767
DuTemple, Lesley, A. The New York Subways. Minneapolis: Lerner Publications Company, 2003. ISBN: 0822503786.
Macaulay, David. Underground. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1976. ISBN: 039524739X
Reid, Barbara. The Subway Mouse. New York: Scholastic Press, 2003. ISBN: 0439728274, 0439774306
Santella, Andrew. Building the New York Subway. New York: Children's Press, 2007. ISBN: 0516236385
Suen, Anastasia. Subway. New York: Viking, 2004. ISBN: 0670036226
Weitzman, David L. A Subway for New York. New York: Farrar, Straus, and Giroux, 2005. ISBN: 0374372845

Historical Context
Construction of New York City's first subway line started in 1900; however, most of the subway system we use today was built from 1913 to 1931.   Additional lines were added in the 1930s, which ended the need for the elevated trains that ran the same routes above ground.

Prior to 1920, subway customers bought tickets to pay their fares. After 1920, customers used coin-operated turnstiles. Rates started at five cents and later increased to ten cents. When the fare rose to fifteen cents in 1953, tokens were used instead of coins, because turnstiles couldn't accept two different coins.  Today, the fare for the subway is $2.00, and customers use MetroCards instead of tokens.

New York City’s subway system carries nearly five million passengers a day on hundreds of miles of track, making it one of the largest and busiest subways in the world.

Essential Question
How does the availability of transportation affect the economic and cultural aspects of a society?
Check for Understanding
Describe the scene in the photograph and evaluate the impact of this technology on local communities.