If you cheered the preservation of the wooden escalators at Macy’s, then you’ll probably dig this: once again, the New York Transit Museum is bringing its 1930s subway cars back into action for free holiday rides. Each Sunday in December, the so-called “Shoppers Special” will make five departures from the Second Avenue F station, where the museum will also be operating a pop-up souvenir shop, and make local stops to Queens Plaza.
The vintage train consists of eight “R1/9” cars that ran from the 1930s to 1977– they’re done up with rattan seats, incandescent lighting, and ceiling fans.
In addition to the trains, there’ll be vintage buses on display in Union Square, Herald Square, and at the Circle Line Terminal, making runs weekdays between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m., until Dec. 18. One of the buses, designed in 1949 by GM, is known as the “Jackie Gleason bus,” since it’s similar to the one Ralph Kramden drove on The Honeymooners.
Unlike the Transit Museum’s summer nostalgia rides, these ones are free with your MetroCard swipe. But if you’re the type that boogies with Bill Nye, you’ll want to pony up an extra $20 for the “Subway Swing” ride that leaves from the Second Avenue station on Dec. 13 at 5:30pm. It’ll zip you straight to a party at the Transit Museum’s home, a decommissioned subway station in downtown Brooklyn, where there’ll be swing bands and throwback dancers. Last year’s party featured acts like Gordon Au and the Grand Street Stompers, Queen Esther and the Fascinators, Svetlana and the Delancey 5, Sunnyside Social Club, and Nick Palumbo and the Flipped Fedoras.
Shoppers Special operates December 6, 13, 20, and 27, departures from the Second Avenue station on the F line at 10am, 11:30am, 1pm, 2:30pm and 4pm; departures from Queens Plaza on the M line at 10:45am, 12:15pm, 1:45pm, 3:15pm and 4:45pm.