Tracks to the past • Brooklyn Paper

Tracks to the past

Next stop, history: The Nostalgia Ride will take passengers from the Transit Museum in Downtown Brooklyn to Coney Island.
New York Transit Museum

Lots of trains go slow, but this one actually takes you backward in time.

Transit fanatics will get to travel to the 1930s — and to Coney Island — in an 80-year-old trains from the Independent Subway System this June 29.

The trip into the past and into the People’s Playground comes courtesy of the New York City Transit Museum in Downtown, which has been running a series of summer “Nostalgia Rides” aboard antique trains for years.

The museum said that the ridership has increased dramatically during the last few commutes into transportation history.

“They started as more of an insider’s treat for train buffs, but in recent years they’ve expanded into popular family-friendly events for all ages,” said spokesman Eli Rumpf.

Voyagers will get to watch a slideshow about the impact mass transit has had on Coney Island before boarding the vintage cars at the museum, which is located in the defunct Court Street station — and which still has a live third rail. The cars will roll out from the museum toward Sodom by the Sea and merge onto the main train lines, taking a roundabout route that will give riders time to fully check out the trains — which ran in a time before air conditioning, plastic seats, and public announcement systems.

The Independent Subway System — popularly called the IND — opened in 1932 as the first publicly-owned underground train network, designed to operate faster and more efficiently than the private Interborough Rapid Transit and Brooklyn-Manhattan Transit lines. The cars came equipped with overhead paddle fans, wicker benches, incandescent rather than fluorescent lights, and rolling signs to inform commuters of the stops. They were also longer than modern subway cars, had four doors on each side instead of three, and came with much worse shock absorbers.

“There is a lot of jostling,” said Rumpf.

The Nostalgia Ride cars are also outfitted with classic 1930s advertising, and their color palette — much broader than the blues and grays of the latest generation of trains — has been fully restored.

Once in Coney Island, the journeyers will have a choice between enjoying the amusement district’s mix of modern and old-fashioned attractions, or going on a tour of the Stillwell Avenue station with transit architect Tom Jablonski.

Rumpf said the trips are a joy both for the riders and for the conductors.

“We work with a fabulous crew of NYCT employees who love these old trains and really enjoy making these rides happen,” Rumpf said.

Nostalgia Ride to Coney Island at the New York City Transit Museum [130 Livingston St. between Schermerhorn Street and Boerum Place in Downtown, (718) 694–1600, www.mta.info/mta/museum]. June 29, 10 am–5 pm, $50

Reach reporter Will Bredderman at wbredderman@cnglocal.com or by calling (718) 260-4507. Follow him at twitter.com/WillBredderman.

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