Ever since following Laura from VivereNewYork on Instagram, I’ve been wanting to do some of the cool things she grams about in New York City. Riding the Nostalgia Train was one of them. Last year, she posted some pretty awesome pictures about it online, so I wanted to check it out for myself.
The Vintage Train is an accumulation of old subway cars from an era long-forgotten or barely remembered. If I could make an educated guess, I’d say they are from the 1930s to 1960s (I’m guestimating here, since cars have been out of service for 40 years and longer). This special train only runs during the holiday season, meaning this year it runs from November 25th to December 30th. It’s also only used on Sundays and during that day it goes around for 5 full times. You can see how in my 4 ½ years of being a New York resident I’ve never come across this wondrous train or maybe only paid it a glimpse of attention. Well, I knew for sure that things were going to change yesterday as I made a conscious effort to catch it. It departs at 2 Ave and runs along the F-line all the way up to Queens Plaza, where it turns around and heads downtown again.
I was more than excited when the speakers announced the arrival of a “special holiday train.” It did not disappoint! When boarding one of the cars, I couldn’t help but stare in disbelief at the MTA employee who was standing in between cars, as he would have in the good old days. Entering the car, I had to hold on to old-school straphangers made of white metal. Ceiling fans were rotating. The doors in between subway cars were open so you got quite a bit of wind when standing there. You were also exposed to the noise in the tunnel and screeches of the brakes. What was fascinating to me was the collection of old posters hanging on the walls. For instance, I did not know that Far Rockaway once had a roller coaster. Oh joy! I would have loved to photograph that one at night. Also, a one-way-ride to the Aqueduct used to cost some mere 50 cents back in the days. Every car looked different and was probably from a different time. Crunchy light-brown seats, ceiling lights that shut off every other minute – the conversion to a different era was almost complete.
The ride up to Queens was eventful in itself. I somehow missed the memo that it was the Jazz-themed Sunday on the Vintage Train and was starting to wonder why some people had dressed up in a particular way.
Then, when waiting on the platform for a ride downtown, I actually met the one and only Laura from VivereNewYork. Laura’s infallible signature is to post videos of her and friends/
other New Yorkers/ random people posing into her camera for a short time and chanting “Ciao” at the end of it. She is Italian and blogs in Italian, so Ciao makes for a great Italian word to use. Ironically, she was just Ciaoing for another epidsode of her short series, when I recognized her and wanted to take a picture with her. We ended up doing a bilingual video with her and me saying some crazy Italian-German combo of how coincidental it was that we met in such a random place outside of Instagram.
Anyhow, back to the Vintage Train: She pointed out that no one ever really knows when the Jazz-themed Sunday happens. It’s only once during those 5 full Sundays when the Nostalgia Train runs and supposedly it’s a mystery to almost everyone. However, once it does happen, you will find lots of bands in different cars playing era-appropriate songs during the 5 full cycles the train runs. We then went on a wild goose-hunt for those bands and came across two while riding back to the Rockefeller Center. One had a great singer while the other was more instrumental. Both attracted a lot of people so it was hard to get through the (vintage) crowds. I will just let the pictures speak for themselves. All I can say is that I spent a great afternoon with VivereNY and the MTA’s old train system.
Find some great videos and pictures under Laura’s Blog www.vivereNY.it. And follow her on Instagram so see what other gems the actress discovers in the Big Apple. (We went on to a concert around the Rockefeller center right after this but that is another story to be told.)
The Nostalgia Train has certainly inspired me to check out the NY Transit Museum and see more of how our subways used to be. Also, find all info on this very special train in the links below, as it runs on two more Sundays till the end of the year. ‘Tis the season indeed!