Day One on the IRT: Press Coverage of the Opening of the Subway

From nycsubway.org

"On behalf of the people, I hereby declare the subway open!"

Take a step back into time, to the very first days of the IRT. Imagine that it's late October 1904 and there's a huge crowd at City Hall Park, waiting for the opportunity to try out the new subway. The New York Times was there to cover it all.

Finish Plans for Subway Celebration
Speeches to be Made At City Hall-- Many Invited. Road Open At Midnight.... (New York Times, Oct. 18, 1904).

Schedule of Trains for the Subway Out
Subject to Alteration After the Celebration Is Over. The Opening Celebration... John B. McDonald To Speak... Police Getting Ready for a Big Crush. (New York Times, Oct. 25, 1904).

Clamor for Tickets for Subway Opening
Distribution Plan Criticised by Engineers and Many Others. Several Stations Lack Finishing Touches. Debate over invitations to the opening ceremonies and a rundown of stations completed (New York Times, Oct. 26, 1904).

Subway Opening To-day With Simple Ceremony
Exercises at One o'Clock; Public to be Admitted at Seven. This was the front page story on October 27th, 1904, with a program of the day's events. (New York Times, October 27, 1904)

Exercises in the City Hall
Mayor Declares Subway Open. Ovations for Parsons and McDonald. Quotations from speeches in City Hall from various dignitaries, including Mayor McClellan, William Barclay Parsons, Alexander H. Orr, John B. McDonald, and August Belmont. (New York Times, October 27, 1904)

McClellan Motorman of First Subway Train
Mayor Used Silver Controller to Start Official Train. Kept up Express Speed. Company had Expected Its Motor Instructor to Replace Him After the Start. This article describes that first ride on the IRT, and the well known fact that Mayor McClellan was having so much fun, he didn't want to stop playing with his new electric train set. (New York Times, October 27, 1904)

Our Subway Open: 150,000 Try It
Mayor McClellan Runs the First Official Train. Big Crowds Ride At Night. This was the front page story on October 28th, 1904. In the article is a table of ridership on that first night, which approached 150,000. (New York Times, October 27, 1904)

Some Subway Ifs and Don'ts
Remember that the subway was new and, except for the construction crews and IRT employees, most people didn't know how to "use" it. The Times published a sort-of subway FAQ that answered most people's fears and most commonly asked questions about the new subway. (New York Times, October 27, 1904)

Things Seen and Heard Along the Underground
Experiences Here and There of Nascent Subwayites. Mr. Baker Rides on a Pass. Timid One Buys a Ticket to Use Five Years Hence. Admiral Coghlan's Final Word. This article described some of the other goings-on on the first public IRT rides and some overheard conversations. (New York Times, October 27, 1904)

Interesting Facts About Our Subway
Chronology of the Great Underground System. First Rapid Transit Commission Named by Mayor Grant--- Hewitt's Plan Approved. Few Accidents In Subway. This article offers a brief timeline to the city's rapid transit planning and some other tidbits about the new subway. (New York Times, Oct. 28, 1904)

Loving Cup to Belmont Given at Subway Feast
Chief Engineer Parsons Says City Should Be Satisfied. McClellan Talks of Future. Belmont Declares Interborough Company's Stock Was Not Watered One Dollar's Worth. Carries 25,000 An Hour--Subway's Capacity During First Crush Estimated by Hedley. Police Plans Successful--People Using First Subway Trains Make Little Trouble. Low and Grant Absentees--Both ex-Mayors Had Previous Engagements--Grant Sends Congratulations. Labor Troubles Averted--Interborough Has Three-Year Pact-- The Operating Men. City's Interest in Tunnel--Will Own It After Seventy-five Years, Maybe Sooner. (New York Times, Oct. 28, 1904)

Rush Hour Blockade Jams Subway Crowds
Other Delays, Day and Evening, Pack Many Stations. It's "Newness" Say Officials. They Are Satisfied with Results - 350,000 Passengers Carried from Midnight to Midnight Yesterday. (New York Times, October 29th, 1904)

Visiting Sunday Crowds Swap Subway Service
Out-of-Town Folks Made Picnic of It-- Brought Their Lunches. Train Schedules Smashed. Crush Greatest at Up-Town Terminals-- Number May Be No Greater Than Saturday-- Distribution Worse. (New York Times, October 31, 1904)

Men Who Really Built the Subway
Here are the Hardy Sub-Contractors Who Grappled with the Innumerable Difficulties of the Actual Construction-- Pen Pictures of the men and Facts About the Problem That Each Had to Solve-- Only Two Firms Had To Quit. (New York Times, November 6, 1904)

Will Open East Side Subway Branch Nov. 10
Officials to Have Main Line Running Well First. Delay In Morning Traffic--Fuse Burns Out in Express at Ninety-sixth Street. Engineer Parsons Explains the "Subway Smell." Parsons on the Subway--Commission's Chief Engineer Talks to City College Students. New Switching Station on West Side Nearly Ready, Too. Trains to Fulton Street in a Few Weeks Are Promised. Commission's Counsel on the Sign Question (New York Times, November 2, 1904/November 12, 1904/November 23, 1904)

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