I did something really cool this weekend. I got to ride a vintage subway, courtesy of The New York Transit Museum’s “Nostalgia Rides” program.

My dad and I took advantage of the last trip of the season, which departed from the lower level of the museum (in downtown Brooklyn) and took us out to Rockaway Park.

new york transit museum nostalgia ride

new york transit museum nostalgia ride

We rode in a train from 1939 and it was awesome. If you read my blog you know what a fan I am of pretty much anything vintage, so the opportunity to pretend (even for an hour) that I had traveled back in time was such a treat.

As a life-long New Yorker I was quite familiar with subway travel. But there was something special about riding this train. All of the lovely details that  have disappeared over time (replaced with more durable – and sterile – substitutes) were there to see, feel, admire:

new york transit museum nostalgia ride

Padded ceiling fans and incandescent light bulbs

new york transit museum nostalgia ride

new york transit museum nostalgia ride

Rattan seats

new york transit museum nostalgia ride

new york transit museum nostalgia ride

new york transit museum nostalgia ride

new york transit museum nostalgia ride

new york transit museum nostalgia ride

And the ads!!

There was no air conditioning of course, so the windows were wide open. When the subway emerged from underground – and especially when we crossed Jamaica Bay – I became totally aware of my surroundings. The smell of the water, the sound of the seagulls – things we never hear from our sealed-up modes of transportation – became a part of the whole experience.

And I started thinking about how canned and artificial our environment has become. Don’t get me wrong, I wouldn’t trade my beloved central A/C for anything. But I truly enjoyed this glimpse of what life must have been like 70 years ago (although my mom recalled how the rattan would often start to come apart, invariably causing a run in her nylons. That would have made me nuts. That, and wearing nylons in August).

new york transit museum nostalgia ride

And what does one do at the end of a vintage train ride?

rockaway taco

rockaway taco

rockaway taco

Get a fish taco, of course.

rockaway taco

veggie island

It was fun having my dad with me, as he actually DID ride these trains. And we chatted about the “advantages” of modern living, versus a time when things were less convenient, but certainly simpler.

new york transit museum nostalgia ride

How about you? Is there anything you’d trade from today for the more simple “old fashioned” version? Do you think we sometimes sacrifice something along the way in the name of progress?

New York Transit Museum

Rockaway Taco

Veggie Island


  1. jodi on August 13, 2012 at 7:15 am

    There used to be a time when I pressed an on/off switch and music or tv would come on. Now, there are so many boxes and receivers and gadgets and remote controls, that unless I have a degree in electronics, it’s impossible to find entertainment in my own house. So I read a book instead!

    • sherisilver on August 13, 2012 at 8:38 am

      Those remotes are the bane of my existence. I still don’t know how to turn the TV all the way “off” (what’s up with that?)…..xo

  2. Jannine on August 13, 2012 at 7:42 am

    I used to like cassettes… or I still like cassettes, I remember as a child pressing forward or back and hit stop to listen to a song, it brings back memories…however, I would not change technology now, is much better of course! and convenient, but just recently I was thinking I want my daughter to know cassettes and since she is only 7 months, I was actually thinking of starting my hunt for children appropriate music cassettes before I never see them again!

    This train ride looks awesome! I did not know this existed! Beautiful pictures! sometimes I daydream the 7 train with open windows… much comfortable and safe in my imagination!

    • sherisilver on August 13, 2012 at 8:37 am

      Thank you! Cassettes – yes! I had the best tape recorder (decorated with Donny Osmond stickers, of course!) and do miss the scratchy, uneven quality of records……

  3. Barry on August 13, 2012 at 7:57 am

    That looked like a lot of fun! I know you and I can recall the 70’s ‘L’ train, full of graffiti and a bit ‘unsafe’ at times. I would not trade up today for those years but rather wish that today’s tech was present when I was 10 years old! I work with new tech each day and it is amazing. Technology seems to move and grow faster now than in each generation before.
    Thanks for sharing your day. BG.

    • sherisilver on August 13, 2012 at 8:36 am

      Right? Oh, that Canarsie Line – don’t miss it at all. Of course now it goes through all the hip neighborhoods of Brooklyn so it’s not just technology that’s improved! 🙂

  4. Meri on August 13, 2012 at 8:03 am

    Wow! Stunning pictures. I love vintage ads more then anything. You know, before everything was bad for you. Those days seemed a lot simpler. Even though I love modern technology I miss the days where we sat on our stoops waiting for the ice cream man, stick ball in the streets and fire hydrants open during hot summer days. Great post Sheri, I just love this.

    • sherisilver on August 13, 2012 at 9:03 am

      I miss those probably-not-legal “rides” on trucks that used to make the rounds every summer. You know, the ones with the “seat belts” that no one wore? And what did you get at the end? A giant tube of colored sugar (Pixie Stix anyone?)!!

  5. Hotly Spiced on August 13, 2012 at 5:19 pm

    I love the vintage things too. It’s great they still have some of these that you can ride on and that they haven’t binned them all xx

    • sherisilver on August 13, 2012 at 10:38 pm

      Yes – this museum is a treasure!

  6. Heather on September 30, 2012 at 2:12 pm

    Fantastic post! Two of my friends went on that nostalgia trip. One of these days I need to make the effort to go to one of them!

    • sherisilver on September 30, 2012 at 8:08 pm

      Thank you! I highly recommend this; it was a great day! 🙂

Leave a Comment