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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.

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.


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.