JUMP TO PAGE   100  >  200  >  300  >  400  >  500  >  600

Down Under: 1904

New York City circa 1904. "In the subway." 8x10 inch dry plate glass negative, Detroit Publishing Company. View full size.

New York City circa 1904. "In the subway." 8x10 inch dry plate glass negative, Detroit Publishing Company. View full size.


On Shorpy:
Today’s Top 5

18th Street Station, 1904 IRT Line

I've seen this photo in other subway history books. The photo depicts the downtown express track on the original IRT line. The view is looking southbound. The side-platform station in the photo is 18th Street. The station was located under Fourth Avenue (now Park Avenue South) and East 18th Street in Manhattan. The light at the end of the tunnel is the next stop, which is 14th Street.

Like all of the other original IRT stations opened in 1904, 18th Street had very short platforms, only long enough to accomodate 5 car trains. The station was closed permanently in 1948 after the NYC Board of Transportation (which had assumed control of the former IRT lines in 1940 after that company's bankruptcy) decided to lengthen 14th Street's platforms northward to include an entrance at East 16th Street. This was done because 14th Street was an express station and as such, had much higher usage than 18th Street. Once the East 16th Street entrance was completed, 18th Street was closed as unneeded, as it was just two short city blocks from the new entrance. Riders on today's IRT lines (the 4,5 and 6) trains can swipe a glance at the old 18th Street station as the trains roll by. There isn't much to see - the platforms are dark and graffiti covered.

Lexington IRT

Looks a lot like the second photo on this page:

Many of the downtown IRT stations opened in October 1904.

Also seeking station ID

Are the lightly classical columns that support the roof over the platform a useful clue?

Where Here Is

I think that the subway looks so "clean" because it's not open for business yet. The platform to the right is still under construction, the rails have no shine to them.

Some thoughts on where and when this photo was taken:

The IRT opened in October 1904, so this shot is at least a month or two prior to that -- there would have been a lot of test trains running, and shining up the tracks, to make sure everything was ready for opening day.

Although distance is hard to gauge, given the straightness of the track, this probably was not below 14th Street, where there are few long straight runs of track. It could have been somewhere between Union Square and Grand Central, but there was an old station at 18th Street, and the distance between the station and the next pool of light (the next station?) seems too long for that run. Maybe between 23rd and 33rd? Or, it could have been north of 50th and south of 103rd (there are turns in the tunnel at 103rd and 110th). There's an open viaduct at 125th and a large siding at 135th that make anything north of 116th Street seem unlikely.

My best guess would be somewhere north of 72nd Street and south of 96th Street. Given the time-table for completing the subway, the further north this place is, the less likely that there has been enough train traffic to shine up the rails, or that the platforms would have been finished.

What Station?

Anybody know what station this is? It's a local. That much is clear.

That new-subway smell

Note how crisp the rivets are, not coated with 50 layers of paint yet. Even the gravel ballast is shiny and new! No cover on the third rail.


The light at the end of the tunnel might just be an oncoming train!

Great photo!


Looking down the express track you can see the tripper at the base of the signal stand. Overrunning a restrictive aspect would automatically apply the train's brakes. Under certain conditions, slowly rolling the train over an insulated joint prior to the tripper would retract it.

Vanishing point

Is this half of a stereo pair? I'd love to see this through my stereoscope.


This is one of the most rieveting photos we've seen yet! Stunning in its simplicity. That sense of distance with the far horizon is perfect.

Clean !

Good Lord. I certainly wish it was that clean today -- just the concrete smell and not urine !

Not much has changed

down there ... except for the litter and poodle-sized rats.

Just crying for some


Great photography

This is such a neat image that 100 years later I am envious of the photographer and find myself wishing I had seen and captured the image.

Syndicate content is a vintage photography site featuring thousands of high-definition images. The site is named after Shorpy Higginbotham, a teenage coal miner who lived 100 years ago. Contact us | Privacy policy | Accessibility Statement | Site © 2023 Shorpy Inc.