Skip to main content
It looks like you're using Internet Explorer 11 or older. This website works best with modern browsers such as the latest versions of Chrome, Firefox, Safari, and Edge. If you continue with this browser, you may see unexpected results.

History of the New York City Subway System: Home

A research guide for individuals wanting to learn about the world's first subway system

Welcome to our LibGuide!

This video was created by Valmai Hanson, using her phone in the Grand Central Terminal Subway station on November 19, 2019.

The New York Transit System can be a little overwhelming! This source will teach you the many ways the New York City Subway system have changed from the beginning until now. Our aim for this LibGuide is to give people background information on the world’s first transit system that’s over 100 years old. Many people who live and work in New York City uses the transit system, but very rarely will know about its history. Our hope is that this LibGuide will give students and researchers access to relevant information pertaining to the subway's history.





Here are some images to start you off on this journey

Handy Map of Brooklyn


  • Lionel Pincus and Princess Firyal Map Division, The New York Public Library. (1897).  Handy map of Brooklyn showing lines of Brooklyn Rapid Transit Company. Retrieved from

This is a map from the nineteenth century of the Brooklyn Rapid Transit Company, an early predecessor of the MTA. This image is found in the New York Digital Collections.


  • The Miriam and Ira D. Wallach Division of Art, Prints and Photographs: Picture Collection, The New York Public Library. (1906). City Hall Subway Station, New York. Retrieved from

This photograph is a postcard from 1906 of the City Hall Subway Station, found on the New York Digital Collections, searchable by the public.