Subway Opening To-day With Simple Ceremony (1904)
The New York Times · Thursday, October 27th, 1904
Exercises at One o'Clock; Public to be Admitted at Seven
John Hay May Be Present; Expected to Represent the Federal Government--President Roosevelt Sends Letter of Regret
The rapid transit subway, for which the contract was signed four years and seven months ago, is ready for the formal opening from the City Hall to One Hundred and Forty-fifth Street.
While today will be a gala occasion throughout the city, the opening exercises will be very simple. The programme is as follows:
The ceremonies in the Aldermanic Chamber at City Hall will begin at 1 o'clock.
The Mayor, introduced by President Fornes of the Board of Aldermen, will preside.
Brief speeches will be made by Mayor McClellan, chief engineer William Barclay Parsons, Rapid Transit Commissioners A. E. Orr and John H. Starin, and Contractor John B. McDonald, and August Belmont, president of the Interborough Rapid Transit Company.
The invited guests will take the first train from City Hall Station as soon as the exercises are ended, making a return trip to One Hundred and Forty-Fifth Street and Broadway.
Until six o'clock holders of complementary passes will be admitted to the subway. At seven o'clock the sale of five-cent tickets will begin.
When General Manager Frank Hadley had taken his final inspection trip yesterday afternoon he said that he had superintended the completion of the last link in the arrangements-- the wiring of a small portion of the lighting system hitherto unfinished, the stations where construction work was over had been swept clean, cleared of all building materials, and equipped with ticket-chopping machines.
"I don't want the public to pass judgment on the road for the first two days," said Mr. Hadley, "It would not be exactly fair to us. After that, however, we are willing to submit ourselves to the most critical tests.
"It must be remembered that never before in the history of railroading has a big system been opened in this manner on the tick of the clock. At first, of course, the patrons of the road must be a little indulgent. We expect slight delays. It would be unreasonable not to look for some hitches, in view of the newness of the men and the devices. There'll be no serious inconvenience, however, and we think that within forty-eight hours the subway will have come as near to perfection as any railroad can.
"The beginning of operation is not a question of schedules. We are ready to throw our tentative time tables to the winds if it becomes necessary, or if the convenience of the public demands. At first the three-minute headway for local trains and the four or five minute headway for rush-hour express trains will furnish a basis for the schedule, but we shall be ready on short notice to increase the number of trains if the number of passengers warrants it. We can run them one minute apart if necessary."
Admission to the ceremonies in the City Hall this afternoon will be strictly by ticket, and it was announced last night that the police guard in the City Hall Park under Capt. O'Brien and Inspector Titus, would form a solid line around the plaza in front of the building, keeping it entirely clear until after the starting of the first train. After the speechmaking the procession to the loop station will be led by Mayor McClellan, the Rapid Transit Commissioners, and their chief engineer, the Interborough Company's chief officials and their staff, and the special guests. Secretary of State John Hay, it is expected, will represent the Federal Government.
The first train probably will consist of at least two sections, as one section will not hold all the guests. The start up-town will be made when Mayor McClellan turns on the current in the first section with a silver key. The train will make a return trip to One Hundred and Forty-fifth Street. When the last section reaches Forty-second Street holders of complementary passes will be admitted to the subway. Then the trains will begin to move from the sidetracks or mainline points where they have been standing.
Though passes for more than 15,000 persons have been issued, the police expect their hardest work after 7 o'clock when the public has its turn. Not an entrance nor a station platform will be left unguarded. Commissioner McAdoo says every policeman in the city will be on duty all day and far into the night. The rush for tickets to the opening continued unabated yesterday, and scores of demands had to be refused, with the result that the applicants went away declaring they had been slighted.
The Directors of the Interborough Company will give a dinner to August Belmont at Sherry's this evening. The number of guests is limited to sixty, and although the names of the speakers are not announced, it is said that there will be a dozen of them, representative of the financial world, the engineering profession, and the City and National Governments.
Mr. Loeb, President Roosevelt's secretary, sent to the Rapid Transit Commission yesterday the following note:
"The President regrets his inability to accept the courteous invitation of the Mayor, President of the Board of Aldermen, Rapid Transit Commission, John B. McDonald, and August Belmont to be present at the ceremonies attendant upon the opening of the Rapid Transit Railroad on Oct. 27, 1904 at 1 o'clock."
Police Commissioner McAdoo announced last night that he had refused applications for all-night licenses made by various saloons for to-night, including the Subway Tavern.