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110 Years of the Subway
Tickets,Tokens and MetroCards

In 1904, a ride on the subway cost a nickel. Passengers handed five cents to a clerk in a ticket booth, received a paper ticket, and then handed the ticket to a second clerk operating a ticket-chopper. Subway fare-collection technology has developed in stages, mirroring the general transformation of American industry. Passengers paid their fare using, first, a paper ticket, then a coin, then a metal token, and finally an encoded plastic card. Throughout time, fare media, the platform which customers use to pay fare when riding the subway, has been an object of much public interest. Its characteristics have changed in response to technology, and it has served as a medium for art, advertising and messaging. The images above, display the evolution of New York City Transit's fare media over the course of one hundred and ten years.
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