HomeThis week in historyNew York City Subway opens today in 1904

New York City Subway opens today in 1904


The New York City subway was opened on the 27th of October 1904 by the mayor of the city, George B. McClellan. The first train left the City Hall station with the mayor at the helm of the train. The ride took 26 minutes, and went between City Hall and 145th street. The subway opened at 7pm in the evening, as throngs of people waited at City Hall for the chance to be admitted onto the train. By the end of the night over 110,000 passengers had ridden the subway!

Initially there was a grand total of 28 stations spanning 14.6 km of track from City Hall station to 145th Street station in Harlem. It is now over 1,112 km long with 472 stations and is the largest underground subway in the western world.

History of the New York subway

The idea for the underground railway originated in the 1860s from the inventor Alfred Ely Beach. Beach first had the idea for the underground railway in the 1860s, as traffic congestion had grown quite significantly, especially along Broadway. Beach created a pneumatic transport system, which used air pressure to push a one-car shuttle between Warren and Murray Street under Broadway.

Beach was so passionate about the project, and with little government support, he even put $350,000 USD of his own money to fund the project! The project was initially a great draw card for locals and tourists alike, and 11,000 people rode the subway within the first two weeks at a cost of 25 cents. The subway, however, was seen as more of an amusement attraction than a form of transport, and plans to extend the line were scrapped.


Over 4.3 million people a day ride the subway, which is over 1 billion people a year! The subway station is currently the 7th busiest in the world, with Seoul taking the hotspot.

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