A Subway Ride Through New York City: Watch Vintage Footage from 1905

If you’re a New York­er, you know this stretch of sub­way inside and out. You’ve schlepped from Union Square to Grand Cen­tral Sta­tion on the 4, 5, or 6 trains how many times? Prob­a­bly more than you care to count. But don’t wor­ry, you’re in good com­pa­ny. New York­ers have been mak­ing this jour­ney since 1904, and here we have some vin­tage video to prove it. Shot on May 21, 1905, sev­en months after the IRT sub­way line opened, the video shows a train mov­ing uptown. And then, dur­ing the last minute, you can see the New York­ers exit­ing the train, svelte and dressed to the nines.

If you’re won­der­ing how this clip was shot, let me add this: A cam­era was mount­ed on a sub­way train fol­low­ing anoth­er train on the same track. Light­ing was pro­vid­ed by a spe­cial­ly con­struct­ed work car on a par­al­lel track.

This pub­lic domain film can be found in the Library of Con­gress’ Ear­ly Motion Pic­ture Col­lec­tion. The video itself comes to us via the New York Dai­ly News, where you can see maps and pic­tures of the ear­ly 20th cen­tu­ry sub­way sys­tem.

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Relat­ed Con­tent:

The World’s First Mobile Phone Shown on 1922 Vin­tage Film

Berlin Street Scenes Beau­ti­ful­ly Caught on Film (1900–1914)

1927 Lon­don Shown in Mov­ing Col­or

Rare Col­or Footage of the 1939 World Series: Yan­kees v. Reds

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Open Culture was founded by Dan Colman.