New York Transit Museum Archives and Collections
The New York Transit Museum is dedicated to collecting, preserving and making accessible materials relating to the region's land based public transportation systems, past and present. As part of this commitment we are pleased to announce the opening of our newly outfitted, environmentally-controlled Gabrielle Shubert Research Center in Sunset Park, Brooklyn. Researchers can access the Museum’s world-renowned special collections and archives library by scheduling an appointment with the archivist or accessing our digital collections below.
Schedule an Appointment
Access to the 130 Livingston Archives and the Gabrielle Shubert Research Center is by appointment only, at least two weeks in advance. Researchers should call 718-694-1068 or email archivist Halley Choiniere with the details of your research question or project. Access is granted at the discretion of Archives staff and certain materials may be restricted. For remote research requests, conducted by the Archivist and billable at their discretion up to $100/hour, please allow up to two weeks for your inquiry to be processed and answered.
For inquiries regarding donations of historic material to the Museum, please contact our Registrar, Todd Gilbert at (718) 694-1715, or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org
Over 10,000 photographs, posters, maps, and artifacts from the Museum’s collections can be viewed online. Look for material through a keyword search, browse each of the fields of the database, or have a random selection generated for you. You can even order a copy of the images for your personal archive. Keep checking back as we are continually adding material to the digital collection.
Fees, Reproductions, and Usage
The Transit Museum charges fees for the use of items from its historical collections. These fees defray the costs of preserving and cataloging our materials and help to expand research access to our vast collection. All fees must be paid in advance and an agreement must be signed stating compliance with all rules and conditions for use as required by the New York Transit Museum Archives.
This guide provides an overview of a selection of the most frequently used collections of images and documents in the Museum’s Archives. It is intended to assist in conducting research and is not a comprehensive list of Museum Collections. When available, complete finding aids, folders or item-level listings are linked as PDF files that may be downloaded.
Board of Transportation Collection
35.5 cu. Ft. of documents and posters
Administrative records, incidents reports, rules & regulations, correspondence with the public regarding various issues, hearing transcripts, operation procedures, labor law, labor organizations, fare collection, traffic studies, eleven bound volumes of proceedings, and operating employee calendars relating tabular information on matters of pay rates, promotion rates, and job assignments. Posters are mostly from 1940-1943 and deal with World War II War efforts.
Donato Masiello Collection
440 photographic prints
Fifth Avenue Coach Company interior and exterior views of buses, bus chassis and parts, assembly and repair shops, employees, snow plows, and street scenes of bus routes. Also includes some Gray Line, MaBSTOA, New York City Omnibus Co., and Leyland Bus photos and one album containing 34 cyanotype prints of construction of 146th Street Power Station.
Elevated Railroad - Photograph Collection
19 cubic feet of photographic prints and negatives
Photographs of elevated rail system, above and below, including street scenes, stations and car equipment. Collection includes photographs of the following elevated lines: 2nd Avenue, 3rd Avenue, 5th Avenue, 6th Avenue, 9th Avenue, Bronx Park Spur, Fulton Street, Lexington Avenue, Myrtle Avenue, Flushing Avenue, Astoria - Flushing.
Eugene Casey Tunneling Collection
1903-1980s (bulk 1912-1921, 1969-1980s)
Photographs, slides, publications, clippings, reports, engineering drawings, prints, and personal papers.
A collection that pertains to the history of tunneling in North America and the World, including documents that relate to tunnel methods for construction, early subway construction photographs, the 63rd Street Tunnel. Also includes over one hundred photographs documenting the Hudson & Manhattan Railroad Tube from 1912, most notably records regarding the construction of the Holland Tunnel including signed reports by Clifford Milburn Holland.
Harvey Modereski Trolley Collection
9 cubic feet of photographic prints, 35mm slides, 16mm films, and periodicals
Photographs of New York railroad and trolley lines including Staten Island Railways; Brooklyn Manhattan Transit (BMT); Brooklyn Rapid Transit (BRT); Brooklyn Heights Railroad; Third Avenue Railway System (TARS); New York Railway Company "Green Lines"; Long Island Electric and Jamaica Central; Manhattan and Queens Traction Co.; Nassau County (Nassau County Railroad, Glen Cove Railroad, Freeport Railroad, Long Beach Railroad, Nassau Traction); New York & North Shore Traction Co.; New York & Long Island Traction Co.; New York and Queens Railway Co.; Ocean Electric Railway Co.; Suffolk County (Babylon Railroad, Huntington Railroad, Northport Traction, Suffolk Traction); Steinway Trolley Lines; and various trolley lines in Canada, Europe and other cities in the United States (primarily California and Pennsylvania). 298 BMT & NYCTA trolley and bus transfers (1942-1968).
1880s-1960s (bulk 1900-1940)
7000+ engineering and architectural sketches, drawings, photo prints, and blueprints.
Drawings documenting surface, elevated, and subway transit throughout New York City, from the early 1880s to the 1960s. The collection consists of original engineering and architectural sketches, drawings, photo prints, and blueprints documenting a variety of material from structural foundations for elevated railroads, signage and equipment for stations, power supply, station construction and design, and construction of surface transit facilities.
ACCESS RESTRICTIONS: Restrictions on this collection apply to drawings and photo prints of facilities that are currently active in the transit system. Drawings and photo prints pertaining to closed facilities, trolleys, and equipment no longer in use are available to the public.
1891-1948 (bulk 1925-1931)
45 cubic feet including approx. 24,220 photographic prints, film and glass plate negatives and related paper materials.
Photographic prints and negatives documenting subway construction, its power supply (generating and conversion equipment), NYC's existing infrastructure (sewer, water, mail, gas & electric lines), construction tools and equipment, tunnel excavation, cut-and-cover digging operations, omnibuses, trolleys, and elevated railways.
The collection includes two types of photographic prints.
First are those which Wigorot Lundin printed between the 1940's and 1966 from earlier negatives made under the auspices of the New York Transit Authority by a variety of photographers. Their subject matter includes street scenes in Manhattan, Brooklyn and Queens, buses, trolleys, trains, subway construction, stations and elevated railroad.
Second are photographs made from Lundin's own negatives. These images are records of trolley accidents with claimant information, description of site noted.
Glass Plate Negatives
Their subject matter includes street scenes in Manhattan, Brooklyn and Queens, buses, trolleys, trains, subway construction, stations and elevated railroad between 1891-1923.
Acetate (film) Negatives
These negatives take up from where the glass plate negatives end and hence, date from 1923 to 1948. These also include street scenes in Manhattan, Brooklyn and Queens, buses, trolleys, trains, stations and elevated railroad.
Album 1- contains 56 pages with approximately 175 5X7" photographs of trolley cars, including exteriors and interiors, dating from 1878-1905. The prints themselves were created in the 1940's. Each of the images has a technical description of each car.
Album 2- contains 225 pages each with an 8X10" photograph of a trolley car, dating from 1908-1916. The prints themselves were created between 1931-1934. Each of the images has a photographically printed technical description of the car. The album is titled "Office of V.P. and C.M., Photographic Record of Rolling Stock."
Album 3- contains 84 8X10" photographs of the "Brooklyn and Queens Transit Corporation Photographic Record of Surface Service Cars," dating from 1930-1931. A descriptive sheet is followed by the photograph.
Album 4- contains 98 pages with 256 photographs, each approximately 4.5" X 6.5 inches of trolley cars, exteriors and interiors, dating between 1884-1908. The prints were made at a later date. Typed descriptions accompany each photograph. Also included is an index.
Album 5- is an unbound album containing 175 pages of "Rolling Stock" and is similar to Album Two above.
Album 6- contains 90 unmounted 8X10" vintage silver prints with descriptive titles, dates (1915-1917) and the photographer's credit in the negative (Urquhart.) All of the images were taken along the Jamaica Avenue Line.
1900-1969 (bulk 1914-1916, 1930-1951, and 1966-1969)
800 engineering sketches, original drawings, and photo prints
Records of the installation and maintenance of electrical and lighting equipment as well as power distribution for New York City surface transit lines, subway, and elevated lines and facilities, from 1900-1969. A majority of the earlier drawings from 1900-1950s relate to surface transit facilities, electrical/lighting equipment, and depots. These surface transit drawings are predominately Brooklyn based operations and some Staten Island operations. Drawings from the 1960s are part of the New York City Transit Authority old track diagrams of third rail power distribution from substations and breaker houses to NYC subway lines. Agency drawings include the Brooklyn Rapid Transit Company (BRT), Brooklyn Heights Railroad Company, Brooklyn Queens Transit Corporation (BQTC), Interborough Rapid Transit Company (IRT), Brooklyn Manhattan Transit Corporation (BMT), the Independent System (IND), the New York City Board of Transportation (BOT), and the New York City Transit Authority (NYCTA).
ACCESS RESTRICTIONS: Restrictions on this collection apply to drawings or photo-prints of facilities that are currently active. Drawings and photo-prints pertaining to facilities that have closed are available to the public.
1813-2008 (bulk 1950-1999)
14 cubic feet including approx. 998 maps and related paper materials
Maps dating from 1813 to the present, primarily from the 20th Century, including early elevated railroad maps as well as items produced by various private transit agencies. A majority are New York City transit maps. In addition, approximately twenty maps of transit systems from other U.S. Cities and fifty maps of transit systems in foreign cities are included.
1830 - 2002 (bulk 1930 - 1970)
18 cubic feet, including 5,428 photographic prints, negatives, slides, and related paper materials
Photographic materials and related paper documentation of the railroads that preceded Metro-North Railroad including Boston & Albany Railroad; Cheshire Railroad; Fitchburg Railroad; Harlem Railroad; Lake Champlain Railroad; Lake Shore & Michigan Southern (L.S. & M.S.)Railroad; Lebanon Railroad; Lehigh & Hudson River Railroad; Mohawk & Hudson Railroad; New Haven Railroad; New York & Ontario Railroad; New York, Ontario & Western Railroad; New York, Westchester & Boston Railway; Pittsburgh & Lake Erie Railroad; Rutland & Burlington Railroad; Vermont Central Railroad; Waynesburg Southern Railroad; Long Island Rail Road, Pennsylvania Railroad; New York Central Railroad; Penn Central; Conrail; and Metro-North Railroad.
Also includes materials documenting the construction and maintenance of Grand Central Depot (1871), Station (1899-1900) and Terminal (1913), and the construction, demolition and reconstruction of New York's Pennsylvania Station (1910). Important figures in railroad history, such as Cornelius "Commodore" Vanderbilt, Alfred E. Perlman and William J. Ronan, are represented in the collection (see Access Points for complete listing). Some of the railroads' signature trains, such as New York Central's 20th Century Limited and Pennsylvania Railroad's Broadway Limited, are also documented.
The majority of the collection consists of photographic prints (approximately 5,428), many of which are accompanied by identifying captions and related paper materials. Correspondence and memoranda press releases, books, magazines, newspapers, pamphlets, booklets, technical and architectural drawings, scrapbooks, manuscripts, blueprints, records, and ephemera are also included in the collection. These materials were largely produced for promotional use by the individual railroads and to document railroad construction, expansion, technological innovations, and general history.
1902-2009 (bulk 1970's - 1990's)
Approx. 900 films, magnetic tapes (Beta and VHS) and digital video discs
Documentary, training, public forum, press conference, events, and commercial promotional material produced by the MTA and the NYCTA. Some amateur home movies and externally produced films about transportation in the New York area are also included.
NYCTA Photograph Unit Collection
1947 - 1983
9.5 cubic feet of photographic prints and negatives
Photographs transferred from the NYCTA photo department, including images of events, laboratories, stations, and individual department self-promotional events.
1916-2009 (bulk 1941-2008)
70 cubic feet including 2,757 posters
Posters dating from 1916 to the present, primarily from the later half of the 20th Century, produced by New York City transportation agencies, private and government agencies, and the Board of Transportation's publication "The Subway Sun." Subject matter pertains to safety and behavior, promotions, route information, MetroCard, Miss Subway, and World War II. Among the more recent posters are the "Poetry in Motion" and Arts for Transit series.
Power Supply Collection
1898-1998 (bulk 1901-1920, 1948-1980)
39.1 cubic feet, including 7,036 photographic prints and negatives
Records of the construction and maintenance of the electrical supply systems for the New York City subway and elevated lines, from 1898-1998. The collection is primarily composed of photographs (prints and negatives) and paper records documenting the building and modernizing of electrical substations and powerhouses of the Manhattan Railway Company (Mry), Interborough Rapid Transit Company (IRT), Brooklyn-Manhattan Transit Corporation (BMT), and the Independent System (IND).The collection is organized into the following four series:
Series 1. Scrapbooks 12 scrapbooks containing photographs documenting the construction of Mry substations and 74th Street Powerhouse, as well as early IRT substations and 59th Street Powerhouse. Copy prints are stored in the Archives Reading Room for access purposes. Copy negatives are stored in the Archives Cold Storage Vault for reproduction purposes.
Series 2. Photographs Survey, construction, and modernization photos of Mry, IRT, BMT, IND, and Power Department substations, powerhouses, and other power- related facilities. The series is divided into sub-series by operating agency, arranged geographically by Power Zone, alphabetically within zones, and chronologically within buildings.
Series 3. Documents Correspondence, reports, published pamphlets, construction specifications, and other records, divided by operating agency and arranged alphabetically within agency. Of particular interest are extensive records of the construction process of IRT Substation #28 for the 1939-1940 World's Fair, and various Federal, State, and local agency reports contained in the miscellaneous sub-series.
Series 4. Logbooks, 1911-1947 9 logbooks used by employees to record the daily operations of IRT substations. Of particular interest are Substation #11 Logbooks from 1917 and 1941, which contain comments about the draft and other references to World War I and II, respectively.
Power Operations Drawing Collection
1900-1980s (bulk 1901-1920, 1948-1980)
1,973 engineering sketches, drawings, photo prints and blueprints
Records of the construction and maintenance of electrical power generation and distribution systems for the New York City subway, from 1901 through 1981. Consists of original engineering sketches, drawings, photo prints and blueprints documenting the construction and modernizing of electrical substations for all subway transportation agencies in existence between the years 1901-1953. Drawings and photo prints originating from the New York City Transit Authority, 1953-Present, are also housed in this collection.
ACCESS RESTRICTIONS: Restrictions on this collection apply to drawings or photo prints of substations and/or power facilities that have been internally rebuilt with rectifier equipment and are currently active. Drawings and photo prints pertaining to substations that have closed are available to the public.
14.5 cubic feet of photographic prints and negatives
Shots of the interior and exterior of the following yards; Canarsie, Clifton, 239th Street, Coney Island, Corona, Culver, East New York, Fresh Pond, Jerome Avenue, Jamaica, Pitkin, Linden, Livonia, East 180th Street, Union Port, 240th Street, 148th Street, 152nd Street, 179th Street, Rockaway Parkway, Sunnyside (LIRR), 38th Street, 207th Street, Westchester.
Subway Construction Photograph Collection
1890-1981 (bulk 1900-1974)
112 cubic feet including approx. 58,546 photographic prints, negatives, slides, and related paper materials.
Survey photographs along subway line routes taken prior to and during construction and renovation projects. Include photographs of completed lines and stations taken to document stress, wear and improvements on structures of the system or surrounding environment. Car equipment, laborers, riders and pedestrians are also documented in this collection.
15 cubic feet of photographic prints and negatives
Documentation and photographs of trolley and bus facilities including: 3rd Avenue Trolley Shop, Norton Point, Nostrand Avenue, Sand Street Terminal, Bergen Bus Depot, Brook Street Garage, Castleton Garage, Coney Island Bus Terminal, Crosstown Depot, Dekalb Bus Garage, Flatbush Avenue Depot, Kingsbridge Depot, West Farms Depot, Ridgewater Depot, East New York Bus Depot, Flushing Garage, Fresh Pond Garage, Jamaica Garage, Queens Village, Ulmer Park, 36th Street Garage, 100th Street Garage, 132nd Street Garage, Garage 154.
Vincent Lee Car Equipment Photograph Collection
Approximately 3 cubic feet of 8x10 photographs and negatives
Interior and exterior photographs of subway car equipment, including IRT, BMT, and IND subway and elevated cars. Also includes photographs of steam and electric locomotives, work cars, one folder of Pennsylvania Rail Road photographs, and one folder of photographs of subway and elevated stations and yards.
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