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Traveling Underground

I was born and raised in New York City and when I came into this world the NYC subway system was already up and running. Recently I came across this article and it amazed me at how long ago the city already got its underground form of travel. On October 27, 1904, at 2:35 in the afternoon in New York Mayor George McClellan helped to unveil the brand new innovative rapid transit system known as the subway. At this time neither my mom nor my dad was even born there over the ocean in Latvia. My dad came along in 1905 and my mom in 1911 I certainly don’t think even in their wildest dreams they could imagine that someday they would be riding the NYC subway.

London, England can boast with the world’s oldest underground train system which opened in 1863 and soon the city of Boston, Massachusetts followed with its own subway system in 1897. However, NYC can boast about having the largest American subway system. The very first line was run by the Interborough Rapid Transit Company or IRT and traveled 9.1 miles with 28 subway stops. It ran from the City Hall station in lower Manhattan to the Grand Central Terminal stop in Midtown, then headed west along 42nd Street to Times Square and ended up way north on 145th Street and Broadway in Harlem. On the day it opened the city mayor was at the controls and took that subway all the way from City Hall to 103rd Street.

Once he had checked out the system that evening at 7 PM it was opened up to the general public. I do believe that it would have been with a pounding heart and a bit of anxiety that I would have gone underground to give it a try. However, that very first day over 10,000 people plopped down their nickels to take their very first ride. I suppose at that time it seemed like an underground amusement ride. One nickel at that time was a reasonable amount to ask for transport fare.

Today to ride the NYC subway you have to pay $2.75 so to get anywhere and back home you have to spend $5.50 per day and that is a boggling amount. So you had better make sure that you can afford to spend about $25 for 5 days per week if you have to take the subway every day and let’s not even think about the fact that you just might want to go places on the weekend. Life has gotten rough but the NYC subway is the only rapid transit system in the world that runs 24 hours a day, seven days a week. There are 469 subway stops and 24 subway lines.  

Of course, there were fewer stops and lines when my parents rode the subway in the 1960s but even then my mom and dad managed to lose my grandma (my mom’s mom) underground. I kid you not. The three of them were going somewhere and grandma got lost in the crowds. Now she had just recently arrived in NYC from Riga, Latvia to live with us so she didn’t speak a word of English. My mother went into a panic and my dad had to figure out what to do. They reported the incident and from what I was told returned home to wait to see if grandma was found. There was grandma already at home ahead of them. She had managed to find a lady that knew Russian partly and my grandma knew both Latvian and Russian. So the lady took the time to understand her problem and got her on the right subway. Now that is truly an amazing story and yet, it happened and thank heavens grandma was alright and wasn’t lost forever.

  • Question of

    Do you have a subway where you live?

    • Yes
    • No
  • Question of

    Would you like to take a subway ride?

    • Yes
    • No

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