THE NEW YORK TRANSIT MUSEUM ARCHIVES has become the most extensive collection of public transportation materials in the United States, documenting mass transit methods from the horse-drawn carriage through trolleys, elevated railroads, early omnibuses and motorized buses and subways. The archival collections comprise about 150,000 photographic prints and original negatives (glass and film) of the planning, construction, maintenence, and operation of the New York City transit system from the 1880s on, including above-ground pre-construction documentation of each building on each city block under which the subway or power-supply lines would run. These documentary photographs are the most heavily used collection materials. The Archives also has 15,000 original engineering and architectural drawings of obsolete car equipment, elevated railroads, and subway structures; 400 cubic feet of administrative records and planning and budget reports documenting labor and civil rights issues, wartime preparedness, public complaints, capital projects, and changes in operating policies and procedures; a library of bound volumes (from the mid-19th century to the present) of reports, proceedings, land records, and legal cases dealing with transportation issues; motion picture films and footage, video tapes, and sound recordings (including 150 transcribed oral history interviews); thousands of public relations posters and early advertisements; transportation system maps; and hundreds of memorabilia and ephemeral items (such as postcards, bus transfers and transportation company stock certificates).
VISITS TO THE ARCHIVES are by appointment only. Appointments may be made by calling the Archives at 718-694-1068, Monday through Friday. Messages may be left at all other times. The Archives is located in the Transit Authority building at 130 Livingston Street, Brooklyn, NY 11201.