BY ARIEL HERNANDEZ
Despite concerns regarding lead paint on its tracks or complaints about overcrowding and lack of efficiency, one city museum is aiming to display the positive impact of the 7 train—which is celebrating its 100th year—on Queens with a new exhibit.
The New York Transit Museum will take guests on a historical trip through the train’s origin, original purpose, impact and role in the growth of Queens with its “7 Train: Minutes to Midtown” exhibit.
“We are incredibly proud to share this story of Queens and how it was transformed from bucolic farmland to the world’s cafeteria in the span of a century,” said Transit Museum Director Concetta Bencivenga, “At its inception, the New York City subway was a means to decongest lower Manhattan and draw the population of the city northward. The story of Queens and, by extension, the 7 train was—and continues to be—one of vision. Whether 100 years ago with the Steinway Tunnel or, right now, with Hudson Yards, the 7 train established communities, a neighborhood and an entire borough by providing people with access to transportation.”
The exhibit will display how the 7 train—before it was officially known as such—appeared. In 1915, a train known as the Corona line became the Interborough Rapid Transit (IRT) Flushing line, which was later transformed into the 7 train.
Despite the name change and added routes, the train helped lead to a real estate boom, transforming rural Queens into vibrant neighborhoods with diverse communities. The line—which now runs from 34th Street-Hudson Yards to Flushing-Main Street—was considered a factor in drawing business and development to the borough. Between 1910 and 1930, the population of Queens grew from 284,000 to more than one million people and, to this day, continues to grow.
While other New York City subway lines were built to serve heavily populated areas, the 7 train was created to encourage growth and allow the city to expand eastward, creating affordable housing while easing overcrowding in lower Manhattan.
In addition to the history of the line, the museum’s exhibit will also include contemporary photos and unique artifacts, including a New York and Long Island City ferry ticket from the late 1800s, station way-finding signs from 1928 through 1949, a Queensboro Bridge Railway token from 1945 and archival transit maps that highlight the expansion of the subway and elevated lines in Queens.
The free exhibit is open from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Monday through Friday, and 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday until Oct. 29.
“7 Train: Minutes to Midtown” is the second in a three-part series of exhibitions and programs at the museum that will explore how transportation has influenced the development of New York City.
For more information on the exhibit, visit nytransitmuseum.org/visit.
Reach Ariel Hernandez at (718) 357-7400 x144 or firstname.lastname@example.org.