Clamor for Tickets for Subway Opening (1904)
The New York Times · Wednesday, October 26th, 1904
Distribution Plan Criticised by Engineers and Many Others.
THE TUNNEL IS NEARLY READY.
Several Stations Lack Finishing Touches.
Correct Time Stares at You from Every Ticket Office.
While the finishing touches are being made at double-quick time in the subway, everybody connected with the opening of the tunnel is involved in more or less of the turmoil that bas been caused by the limited distribution of tickets for the celebration in the City Hall to-morrow afternoon. The "kickers" became so numerous yesterday that the offices of the Rapid Transit Commission and the Interborough Company became storm centres.
Of the 700 invitations which were printed by the Rapid Transit Board, many have been sent out of town to people who cannot possibly attend the ceremonies. A good number has even gone as far as London and Paris. The consequence is that there are left over in the city scores of officials and others who consider themselves slighted. Included in the number are the seven senior assistant engineers of the commission, each of whom has had a conspicuous part in the construction of the tunnel.
When the distribution of the tickets was ordered, the officials of the commission, the city, and the Interborough Rapid Transit Company vied in securing what each thought fair representation. Finally it had to be agreed that only the highest engineering officials of the board and the company were to have admission cards, while invitations were restricted to the most important heads of city departments. A list of men of importance in this country and abroad had to be cared for. That left the margin for personal invitations very small.
It was learned yesterday that August Belmont, President of the Interborough Company, and Alexander E. Orr, President of the commission, had been adding so many names to their lists that the staffs of the commission and company had their privileges curtailed even further than at first. The indignation of the commission engineers increased when they heard that Chief Engineer S. L. F. Deyo of the company had demanded tickets for members of his staff below the rank originally fixed.
As a concession to the board's senior assistants, who are the right bowers of the division engineers under Mr. Parsons, it has been arranged that they shall act as ushers and ticket takers at the ceremonies, but the hundred or more staff men below them will have no chance to get inside the Aldermanic Chamber.
The chamber seats about 500, and it is estimated that perhaps 200 of the invited guests will not be present, so that there will be some vacant seats unless the number of those able to "slip in" assumes large proportions. Many acceptances were received by the commission yesterday, but all of them came from near-by places. It is not yet known whether the Federal Government will be represented.
The commission's staff have another grievance because of their limited number of passes for the afternoon hours following the formal ceremonies. Although the Interborough Company has about 5,000 of these tickets, which are good between 2:30 and 6 P.M., each admitting three persons, only 500 were apportioned to the commission. The number has proved entirely inadequate for the wants of the staff, who think they should have more consideration, having worked on the subway building for four and a half years.
When President Orr arrived at the rooms of the board yesterday afternoon to complete the detail arrangements for the celebration, he was informed by Acting Secretary Holloman that the telephone had been overworked all day by people who regarded their failure to obtain tickets as a slight.
The official programme of the opening exercises was given out by Mr. Orr as follows:
At 1 P.M. Thursday, Oct. 27, President Fornes of the Board of Alderman will call the meeting to order in the Aldermanic Chamber. Then he will introduce the Mayor as presiding officer.
The Mayor, after stating the object of the meeting, will call upon Coadjutor Bishop David H. Greer of New York for an opening prayer.
Chief Engineer William Barclay Parsons, when asked by the Mayor to make a statement as to the fitness and readiness of the subway, will respond briefly.
The Mayor will call on President Orr for an address, and then, in the order named, he will ask for brief remarks from Commissioner Starin, Contractor John B. McDonald, and President August Belmont of the Interborough Rapid Transit Company.
The Mayor will answer briefly for the city, after which Archbishop Farley of New York will pronounce the benediction.
The invited guests will then proceed to the City Hall Station of the subway, there to take the first train, which will be started by the Mayor with a silver key furnished by the Interborough Company.
Yesterday and to-day will have been the last "housecleaning days" in the tunnel before the opening, but when the trains begin to run on schedule time there still will remain several stations that are not entirely finished.
The stations where some work will be left over are those at Astor Place, Forty-second and Broadway (Times Square Station), Seventy-second Street, One Hundred and Third Street, One Hundred and Sixteenth Street, Manhattan Street, One Hundred and Thirty-seventh Street, and One Hundred and Forty-fifth Street. A little clearing of building materials remains to be done to-day at all the other stations except those at City Hall, Canal Street, Spring Street, Eighteenth Street, Twenty-eight Street, and Thirty-third Street, which are already as clean as scrubbing brushes and brooms can make them.
The unfinished portion of the Astor Place station is the side wall separating the platforms from the new Wanamaker store. At the Times Square Station, under the new Times building, there is a little work to be done on the walls and ceiling ornamentation, and the same is true of the stations at Seventy-second, One Hundred and Sixteenth, One Hundred and Thirty-seventh, and One Hundred and Forty-fifth Streets. At One Hundred and Third Street there are many rough spots on the walls. The Manhattan Street Station, which is on the elevated viaduct over Manhattan Valley, is not yet equipped with escalators, and makeshift stairways will be used for some days.
Crowds of sightseers again thronged the entrances to the tunnels yesterday, and it appeared that only a small proportion of them were able to get passes on the trial trains, which ran at frequent intervals. Over nearly every ticket window a big clock, correctly set, ticked off the time in clear view of the train windows. These clocks are not placed sideways as they are on elevated stations.
Chief Engineer Parsons, accompanied by his chief assistants and officials of the operating company, intend to take a last inspection trip to-day. just to pronounce the road officially ready for opening.
The Interborough officials are ready to carry 20,000 passengers an hour on the average; that at least is the approximate number they expect to accommodate from the start.
The Advisory Board of the Board of Health inspected the tunnel yesterday and reported to Commissioner Darlington that they had found it a fine establishment from a sanitary point of view. They commented upon the excellence of the air, the lack of dust, and the minimum of danger. The cleanliness of the stations and slight noise were also commended. The trip was made in President Belmont's private car Mineola, and the party included Drs. Edward G. Janeway, William M. Polk, Joseph D. Bryant, Francis Kinnicut, T. Mitchell Prudden, Abraham Jacobi, Richard H. Derby, A. Alexander Smith. L. Emmett Holt, Henry P. Loomis, J. W. Winters Brannan, and John A. McCorkle.
Subway Train Brakes Work
Small Boy Who Gets in Way, Has Lease on Life
Where the north-bound subway trains emerge into the outer air at One Hundred and Twentieth Street there is a stone parapet about four feet high, where the boys of the neighborhood have perched themselves for many days, greeting them with cheers or catcalls. About fifty boys were there at 4:30 o'clock yesterday afternoon, when as a train came out one little fellow about twelve years old either fell or was pushed off, falling flat across the track just before the wheels. The emergency brake was applied, and the train, which was running very slowly owing to a slight blockade at the terminal, stopped instantly. The boy scrambled back on the wall, and gleefully and characteristically derided the motorman as the train went by.