119 years ago on October 27th, 1904
The original 28 subway stations open
The ground-breaking ceremony for the subway had been in March 1900, and after a few years of testing, the subway system was ready for the public.
The stations opened in 1904 were along the modern-day numbered lines, originally called the Interboro Rapid Transit (IRT) lines, and were built and operated by a private company and acquired by the city in 1940. On opening day, the subway ran all the way from City Hall to 145th Street in Manhattan. Some of the major stations (Times Square, Grand Central, Union Square) were among the oldest and today are some of the busiest, so you probably use one of the original stops each time you take the subway in Manhattan!
Much was made of the artistic details of the original stations, which included the beautiful but now unused City Hall Station. The newspaper The Sun, ran a special two-page spread titled "The Finest Subway in the World Opens This Week", showing illustrations of the stations and the infrastructure that made up the new subway. The artistic touches were seen as a deterrent to an overabundance of advertising:
Each station has its own special artistic touches. There's no room, for instance, for the work of the poster man amid the picturesque arches and varicolored ornamental bricks of the City Hail station. And it will hardly be proposed to hide the Spanish caravels at Columbus Circle beneath the Strength Company's breakfast food.
The subway kept expanding year after year and fueled a period of rapid growth as the city became inter-connected and expanded the opportunities for residents to reach across the city and easily travel farther than before.