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Guide to New York City Railroads Car Body Reports
1908-1973 (bulk 1908-1943)
  MS 2112

New-York Historical Society
170 Central Park West
New York, NY 10024
Phone: (212) 873-3400


@ 2011 New-York Historical Society

Collection processed by Jan Hilley and Valerie Paley

This finding aid was produced using the Archivists' Toolkit on November 02, 2011
Description is in English.

Descriptive Summary

 
Title: New York City Railroads Car Body Reports
Dates: 1908-1973 (bulk 1908-1943)
Abstract: Collection of Semi-Annual Car Body Reports, submitted to the Public Service Commission and the Transit Commission by various railroad companies operating in New York City between 1908 and 1943. Also included are detailed engine descriptions and several bulletins with articles discussing the history of various car bodies.
Quantity: 3.25 Linear feet (19 boxes)
Location note: Manuscript cage
Material Specific Details note: [material specific details such as mathematical data, scale for maps, physical presentation data for music records]
Call Phrase: MS 2112

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Historical Note

1832 The first street railway is built in Manhattan.
1868-1883 Elevated lines are built in Manhattan.
1885-1903 Elevated lines are built in Brooklyn and the Bronx.
1890 Above ground, there are approximately 24 street railway firms operating in the city running one main route or a branch. Most are consolidated by the Metropolitan Street Railway syndicate.
1902 The Interborough Rapid Transit Company (IRT) is formed to operate New York City's subway.
1904 The subway opens in New York City.
1913 The Board of Estimate and the New York State Public Service Commission approve a "dual system" that includes the Brooklyn Rapid Transit Company (BRT), thus extending rapid transit lines to include two networks or broader routes. By 1913 the system carried 810 million passengers, and by 1930, 2,049 million.
1921 The earliest form of rapid transit in the U.S., the elevated railway (developed in New York City in the second half of the nineteenth century) reached its peak in 1921, when it carried 384 million passengers.
1923 The success and popularity of the subways renders the noisy and unsightly elevateds obsolete after 1923 and during the Depression they are eliminated. A majority of the lines are razed or abandoned in the late 1940s and 1950s.
1932 New York's Board of Transportation completes construction of the Eighth Avenue Line, creating the Independent City-Owned Rapid Transit Railroad (IND).
1940 New York City purchases BMT and IRT, becoming the sole owner and operator of all NYC subway and elevated lines.

At the turn of the century and for quite some time after, the heavy rail fleet was an amalgam of electric cars and converted steam coaches. The subway lines began standardizing car appearance although the propulsion, door and brake systems and other components could vary considerably between car types. The description and status of each company's various car body types were reported to the Transit Commission twice yearly. These records, beginning in 1908, comprise this collection.

[Sources: Kenneth T. Jackson, ed., The Encyclopedia of New York (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1995); Robert A. Hall,  New York City Rapid Transit Chronology (Ann Arbor, Mich.: [Lithoprinted by Edwards Brothers, Inc.], 1945; and Gene Sansome,  Evolution of New York City Subways (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2002)].

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Scope and Content Note

This collection is made up almost exclusively of Semi-Annual Statement of Car Bodies reports submitted to the Public Service Commission and the Transit Commission between 1908 and 1943 by various railroads operating in New York City. Other items include eighty-two Engine Descriptive Sheets (not dated); a report and recommendation for disposition of certain subway cars (dated 1957); and three Bulletins of the Electric Railroaders' Association, New York Division (dated 1970-1973).

The collection was originally composed of 12 bound volumes (containing 21" x 12" sheets along with some letter-sized correspondence), one oversize, folded bound volume, and one folder. The volumes were disbound and placed into nineteen boxes. Portions of the original binder covers are located in Box 2, Folder 3; Box 4, Folder 3; and Box 7, Folder 3.

The semi-annual reports appear in two formats. One format was employed until mid-1910; the other, with additional fields, was used from mid-1910 through the final reports in 1943. Information provided was based on car body type and included such attributes as number of cars, manufacturer, date purchased, dimensions, arrangement of seats, seating capacity, weight, cost, heater equipment, and number of motors per car. Not all data are available for every car body. Throughout the collection there are letters submitted in lieu of complete reports. The letters indicate either that there has been no change since the last reporting period or that minimal changes had occurred.

Some of the earliest cars purchased (in the late 1800s) remained in service for over 30 years. The New York Transit Corporation, for example, ran several closed trailers manufactured by Pullman from the 1880s until 1939. It is notable that cars were often leased by one company to another, increasing the complexity of reporting on their status. Several of the railroad companies reported owning no cars.

That the companies often were short-lived or suffering financial difficulties, is shown by the variety of date ranges covered by the reports and the fact that many of them were submitted by "receivers of" a given company.

The materials are arranged by company based on the way they were originally grouped. Boxes 1 through 4 contain reports of the Interborough Rapid Transit Company (IRT) for the years 1908 to 1939. New York Railways' submissions (1912-1936) are located in Boxes 5 through 7. Next, in Boxes 8 through 11, are the reports of a group of fourteen companies, mostly operating in Brooklyn, who submitted their reports together. Boxes 12 through 15 contain reports submitted by another group of seventeen related companies. The final eighteen companies (Boxes 16 through 18) submitted their reports individually, rather than as a group, with the exception of the 8th and 9th Avenue Railway Company. In that case, there appear to have been two separate companies initially - the 8th Avenue and the 9th Avenue, which eventually combined to form one company. All of their reports are together in one chronological arrangement.

Folder 1 of Box 19 holds three Bulletins of the Electric Railroaders' Association, New York Division, for December 1970, December 1972 and February 1973. These are newsletters filled with technical information regarding current rail service, station construction and related items. Each bulletin contains articles by Bernard Linder about antique subway and trolley cars; one two-part series is on the Interborough Subway Cars, another on the BRT trolley roster of 1905 and 1910. In Folder 2 is a 1957 report and recommendation concerning disposal of a group of subway motor and trailer passenger cars. Box 19, Folder 3 contains detailed descriptions of various engines. Most of the sheets are labeled "Manhattan Railway Company" and concern engines placed into service in the 1880s and 1890s. They provide such information as builder, cost (in some cases), date first used, and component dimensions, weight and types.

Arrangement

The collection is composed of nineteen boxes of materials. Within the 18 boxes containing the Semi-Annual Statement of Car Bodies reports, arrangement is by rail company and chronologically within company. Companies are arranged in groupings based on the manner of submission. Boxes 1 through 4, for example, contain the reports of the Interborough Rapid Transit Company (IRT). These reports were submitted individually. Boxes 8 through 11, on the other hand, contain the reports of fourteen companies whose semi-annual reports were always submitted together. Within each grouping, the companies are arranged alphabetically. An exception to this arrangement is Box 19, which does not contain car body reports.

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Access Points

Subject Organizations

  • Belt Line Railway Corp.
  • Brooklyn and Queens Transit Corporation.
  • Brooklyn City Railroad Co. (New York, N.Y.).
  • Brooklyn Heights Railroad Company.
  • Bush Terminal Rail Road Co.
  • Coney Island & Brooklyn Railroad.
  • Coney Island & Gravesend Railway Co.
  • Dry Dock, East Broadway & Battery Railroad Company (New York, N.Y.)
  • Interborough Rapid Transit Company.
  • Jamaica Central Railway.
  • Long Island Electric Railway.
  • Manhattan Bridge Three Cent Line.
  • Nassau Electric Railroad.
  • New York & Harlem Railroad Co.
  • New York & Long Island Traction Company.
  • New York (State). Transit Commission.
  • New York City Interborough Rail Road Co.
  • New York Railways Company.
  • New York Rapid Transit Corp.
  • New York, Westchester & Boston Railway.
  • Ocean Electric Railroad.
  • Queensborough Bridge Rail Road.
  • Second Avenue Railroad Company (New York, N.Y.)
  • South Brooklyn Railway Company.
  • Southfield Beach Railroad.
  • Staten Island Midland Railroad.
  • Steinway Lines.
  • Third Avenue Railroad Company (New York, N.Y.)
  • Union Railway Company.
  • Van Brunt St. and Erie Basin Rail Road Co.
  • Westchester Electric Railroad Co.
  • Yonkers Railroad Co.

Subject Topics

  • Railroads -- Car reporting systems.
  • Railroads -- Cars -- Design and construction.
  • Railroads -- New York (State) -- New York.
  • Street-railroads -- New York (State) -- New York.

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Administrative Information

Access Restrictions

Open to qualified researchers.

Photocopying undertaken by staff only. Limited to twenty exposures of stable, unbound material per day. (Researchers may not accrue unused copy amounts from previous days.)

Use Restrictions

Permission to quote from this collection in a publication must be requested and granted in writing. Send permission requests, citing the name of the collection from which you wish to quote, to

Library Director
The New-York Historical Society
170 Central Park West
New York, NY 10024

Preferred Citation

This collection should be cited as the New York City Railroads Car Body Reports, MS 2112, The New-York Historical Society.

Related Material at The New-York Historical Society

The Library at the New-York Historical Society has a number of volumes containing related material. The following are examples:

Hall, Robert A. New York Rapid Transit Chronology. Ann Arbor, Mich.: [Lithoprinted by Edwards Brothers, Inc.], 1945. (NYHS Call Number: F128 TF 725.N5 H35 1945)

Sansone, Gene. Evolution of New York City Subways: An Illustrated History of New York City's Transit Cars, 1867-1997. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2002. (NYHS Call Number: F128 HE4491.N65 S26 2002)

Walker, James Blaine. Fifty Years of Rapid Transit, 1864-1917. New York: Law Printing Company, 1918. (NYHS Call Number: F128 TF847)

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Container List


Container 1 Container 2   Title Date
Box: 1 Folder : 1 Interborough Rapid Transit Company (IRT)
1908-1913
Box: 1 Folder : 2 Interborough Rapid Transit Company (IRT)
1913-1920
Box: 1 Folder : 3 Interborough Rapid Transit Company (IRT)
1920-1924
Box: 2 Folder : 1 Interborough Rapid Transit Company (IRT)
1924-1926
Box: 2 Folder : 2 Interborough Rapid Transit Company (IRT)
1926-1928
Box: 2 Folder : 3 Interborough Rapid Transit Company (IRT)
1928-1930
Box: 3 Folder : 1 Interborough Rapid Transit Company (IRT)
1931-1932
Box: 3 Folder : 2 Interborough Rapid Transit Company (IRT)
1932-1934
Box: 3 Folder : 3 Interborough Rapid Transit Company (IRT)
1934-1935
Box: 4 Folder : 1 Interborough Rapid Transit Company (IRT)
1935-1937
Box: 4 Folder : 2 Interborough Rapid Transit Company (IRT)
1937-1938
Box: 4 Folder : 3 Interborough Rapid Transit Company (IRT)
1938-1939
Box: 5 Folder : 1 New York Railways
1912-1915
Box: 5 Folder : 2 New York Railways
1915-1916
Box: 5 Folder : 3 New York Railways
1916-1918
Box: 5 Folder : 4 New York Railways
1918-1920
Box: 6 Folder : 1 New York Railways
1920-1925
Box: 6 Folder : 2 New York Railways
1925-1927
Box: 6 Folder : 3 New York Railways
1927-1928
Box: 6 Folder : 4 New York Railways
1928-1930
Box: 7 Folder : 1 New York Railways
1930-1932
Box: 7 Folder : 2 New York Railways
1932-1934
Box: 7 Folder : 3 New York Railways
1934-1936
Box: 8 Folder : 1 Bridge Operating Company (1908-1918) Brooklyn City Railroad Company (1908,1920-1929)
1908-1929
Box: 8 Folder : 2 Brooklyn Heights Railroad Company (1908,1910-1916)
1908-1916
Box: 8 Folder : 3 Brooklyn Heights Railroad Company (1917-1929) Brooklyn Manhattan Transit Co. (1925)
1917-1929
Box: 9 Folder : 1 Brooklyn and Queens Transit Corporation
1929-1935
Box: 9 Folder : 2 Brooklyn and Queens Transit Corporation (1935-1940) Brooklyn, Queens Co. & Suburban RR Co(1908-1929)
1908-1940
Box: 9 Folder : 3 Canarsie Railroad (1911) Coney Island & Brooklyn Railroad (1908-1929)
1908-1929
Box: 10 Folder : 1 Coney Island & Gravesend Railway Co.
1908-1928
Box: 10 Folder : 2 Nassau Electric Railroad
1908-1918
Box: 10 Folder : 3 Nassau Electric Railroad
1919-1940
Box: 11 Folder : 1 New York Rapid Transit Corp. (1938,1940) Sea Beach Railway (1910-1912)
1910-1940
Box: 11 Folder : 2 South Brooklyn Railway Co.
1910-1926
Box: 11 Folder : 3 South Brooklyn Railway CO. (1927-1941, n.d.) Transit Development Company (1908)
1908-1941, undated
Box: 12 Folder : 1 28th and 29th Street Crosstown RR (1911-1919) 42nd Street, Manhattanville and St. Nicholas Company (1910-1942)
1910-1942
Box: 12 Folder : 2 Belt Line Railway Corp. (1913-1931) Brooklyn and North River Railway Company (1912-1919) City Island (1908)
1908-1931
Box: 12 Folder : 3 Dry Dock, East Broadway & Battery RR
1910-1932
Box: 13 Folder : 1 New York City Interborough RR Co.
1908-1942
Box: 13 Folder : 2 Metropolitan Street Railway (1908-1911) Pelham Park Railroad Co. (1908) Queensborough Bridge RR (1908-1941) Southern Boulevard Railroad Company (1908)
1908-1941
Box: 13 Folder : 3 Third Avenue Railway
1908-1930
Box: 14 Folder : 1 Third Avenue Railway (1931-1942, n.d.) Third Avenue Transit Corp. (1942-1943)
1931-1943,undated
Box: 14 Folder : 2 Union Railway
1908-1942
Box: 15 Folder : 1 Westchester Electric RR Co. (1909-1943) Westchester Street Transportation Co. Inc. (1926-1930)
1909-1943
Box: 15 Folder : 2 Yonkers RR Company
1910-1943
Box: 16 Folder : 1 2nd Avenue Railroad Corp. (1910-1933) 8th and 9th Avenue Railway Company (1920-1935)
1910-1935
Box: 16 Folder : 2 Bush Terminal RR Company (1916-1933) Jamaica Central Railway (1926-1933)
1916-1933
Box: 16 Folder : 3 Long Island Electric Railway (1908-1926) Manhattan Bridge Three Cent Line (1913-1929)
1908-1929
Box: 17 Folder : 1 New York & Harlem RR Co. (1926-1932) New York & Long Island Traction Co. (1908-1926) New York & North Shore Traction Co. (1911-1919)
1908-1932
Box: 17 Folder : 2 New York Rapid Transit Corp. (1938-1939) New York, Westchester and Boston Railway Co. (1910-1937)
1910-1937
Box: 17 Folder : 3 Ocean Electric Railroad (1908-1928) Richmond Light & Railroad Corp. (1908-1923)
1908-1928
Box: 18 Folder : 1 Richmond Railway Inc. (1927-1933) Southfield Beach Railroad (1908-1927)
1908-1933
Box: 18 Folder : 2 Staten Island Midland Railway>
1908-1927
Box: 18 Folder : 3 Steinway Lines (1922-1938) Van Brunt St. and Erie Basin RR Co. (1909-1929,n.d.)
1909-1939, undated
Box: 19 Folder : 1 Electric Railroaders' Association Bulletins
1970-1973
Box: 19 Folder : 2 Disposal of Subway Cars - Recommendations
1951
Box: 19 Folder : 3 Engine Descriptive Sheets
Undated
Box: 19 Folder : 4 Fragments
1910-1940,undated

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