The year is 1931. And New Yorkers are stepping onto the brand new R-1 model subway car, built by the American Car & Foundry factory in Berwick, Pennsylvania. Fast-forward 77 years later. Some 1930s-era subway cars are back in service this month in New York.
New Yorkers and tourists are once again boarding this 84,000-pound, 60-foot-long leviathans constructed of riveted steel, with some featuring wicker seating, incandescent light bulbs, big exposed overhead fans, and open windows. The R-1 as they are called and other rehabilitated subway cars from the 1930s to the 1970s are making their rounds from Manhattan`s Lower East Side to the borough of Queens along the "V" line.
On this special occasion, passengers are loving the ride on these prehistoric dinosaurs, even though the ride is bumpier and noisier than they are used to on today`s gleaming stainless steel subways. Built like a battleship with steel body and concrete floors, the R-1 was simple and reliable. State of the art in its day, each car cost just under $40,000. Today`s subway cars run the city about $1.5 million apiece.
The R-1s were also the first set of trains in New York to have four sets of doors on the sides, for rapid loading and unloading. It was a big boost to New York City subways` ability to accommodate the growing post-World War I population.