Jump to content
Attention: In order to reply to messages, create topics, have access to other features of the community you must sign up for an account.
Sign in to follow this  
Trainspotter

Getting a piece of subway history

Recommended Posts

Getting a piece of subway history

By Marlene Naanes

amNY

May 2, 2008

 

[float=right]38386581.jpg

Dave Sanders

Discarded station stops, destination signs and

entry globes sit in the former MTA headquarters

on Jay St. in Brooklyn.[/float]People all over the world have gotten their hands on a little piece of transit history through an obscure division of New York City Transit, a department that five years ago was better known for selling scrap metal and recycling motor oil.

 

Interior designers have bought train doors to deck out stylish apartments, a New York-themed golf course owner in Thailand bought subway station signs and a Connecticut attorney spent thousands on his personal collection of transit history.

 

"It's people from all walks of life from retired transit employees from people who just like subways or buses," said Mike Zacchea, head of the Asset Recovery department. "We get odd requests, too, we have people looking for doors who'd have thunk it?"

 

The division was surprised by interest in its items when it sold $200,000 worth of vintage Redbird car parts. About 1,300 of the red 1950s- and 1960s-era cars were stripped of items and then sunk off shore lines to create artificial reefs.

 

The division received its highest volume of phone messages in December 2004, with 400 inquiries resulted in a record $8,300 worth of sales.

 

Zacchea has since been selling old train station signs on the MTA's Web site.

 

In the Transit Authority's former headquarters on Jay Street, about 200 Redbird grab handles, 120 air-pressure gauges, and various train and station signs are scattered on one floor. Memorabilia made up $75,000 of the department's $1 million-plus in revenues in 2003, and has fallen steadily to $19,000 last year.

 

The floor of the Jay Street building may become a lot more crowded this summer as transit plans to retire more lettered-line cars, sending them to watery graves but saving collectibles. Zacchea does not expect as big an influx of buyers like he saw with the Redbird sale. Nor does he know how much longer transit officials will sell collectible train parts as the last of the old trains are retired in the coming years.

 

"The newer technology trains don't have quite the kind of interesting pertinences that the Redbirds had," he said. "All the hand grabs have been replaced by straight stainless steel rails. There's not much of a nostalgia market or a collectible market for that."

 

Train buffs have long purchased transit-sanctioned memorabilia like bus fare boxes and handfuls of tokens from the New York Transit Museum. But like any collectibles market, the not-so-sanctioned methods have been around since the system's beginnings.

 

Former employees have saved parts of trains before they were retired, scrap dealers have marketed items themselves and people have reportedly stolen transit property.

 

The market for transit memorabilia is still hot, collectors say. And while the asset-recovery department items can sell for up to $1,000 right now, older items on Ebay can go for even more.

 

Sellers like Georgia-based software designer J.R. Ramsay have sold hundreds of collectibles for thousands of dollars.

 

Ramsay fell in love with the subway when he and his wife watched the ball drop for New Years 2001 and began buying vintage train-destination roll signs. He's spent about $30,000 on the signs, cut them up and framed them to sell, making about a 10 to 15 percent profit in the past few years.

 

Already he's seen the signs he buys increase from a couple hundred dollars to the thousand-dollar range. The supply will decrease, he believes, and the demand will increase.

 

"It'll get bigger as people get older and the trains get more and more mechanized and they used the LED lights," he said. "People will want to remember their childhood. There's nothing romantic about LED lights. They're boring."

 

MTA Artifact Gallery: amny_logo.gif icon_offsite.png - May 2, 2008

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I wish i had the money to buy some of those redbird parts. Btw does anybody know if the MTA still has the R44/R46 rollsigns before they got GOHed? Those signs were really cool and interesting same goes pre GOH R26-R42 roll signs. And i agree with the artcle the NTT are lame and boring and have no charcter the old trains have much more charcter than this new tech BS.

 

Btw does the MTA still sell buses to bus fans? I saw on youtube where some guy bought an NJ transit flexble bus and he owed it and had it for his personal use. So is it possible that one of those retired RTSs from the PBL era?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
I wish i had the money to buy some of those redbird parts. Btw does anybody know if the MTA still has the R44/R46 rollsigns before they got GOHed? Those signs were really cool and interesting same goes pre GOH R26-R42 roll signs. And i agree with the artcle the NTT are lame and boring and have no charcter the old trains have much more charcter than this new tech BS.

 

Btw does the MTA still sell buses to bus fans? I saw on youtube where some guy bought an NJ transit flexble bus and he owed it and had it for his personal use. So is it possible that one of those retired RTSs from the PBL era?

 

You can buy busses, you just have to ask the right dept about it. As for "new tech bs", i think the real issue is efficiency vs character. They sometimes get it wrong, but that doesn't mean progress is bad.

 

- Andy

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
As for "new tech bs", i think the real issue is efficiency vs character. They sometimes get it wrong, but that doesn't mean progress is bad.

 

Well said Andy! icon14.gif

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

So does this mean that they will sell R32 and R40 signs and number plates? If so I can't wait to get my hands on them.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
So does this mean that they will sell R32 and R40 signs and number plates? If so I can't wait to get my hands on them.

 

Call that number and see if they have any info on it.

 

- Andy

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Wow I wish I can get some of these things but the (MTA) should put more things up for sale. As for the R-32's and R-40's, let me know because I got a odd response in regards to that. I hope they can sell some builder plates or something. I mean this would help the (MTA) to actually make money.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Wow I wish I can get some of these things but the (MTA) should put more things up for sale. As for the R-32's and R-40's, let me know because I got a odd response in regards to that. I hope they can sell some builder plates or something. I mean this would help the (MTA) to actually make money.

 

I am sure some go to workers and museums before what's left is available to the general public. If you really want good info on it i'd call and write some letters & requests.

 

- Andy

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Restore formatting

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

Sign in to follow this  

×
×
  • Create New...

Important Information

By using this site, you agree to our Terms of Use.