New York City’s Holiday Nostalgia Train is Back!

New York City’s Holiday Nostalgia Train is Back!

Do you know about the Holiday Nostalgia Train running in New York City this holiday season? This almost-secret resurrection of vintage trains running along real tracks is back for a limited time. So go catch one while you can!

The New York Transit Museum has teamed up with the MTA to bring the old-fashioned trains from a by-gone era back for some holiday fun. The “R1-9” cars, as they are called, are from the 1930’s and can be enjoyed just as you would take the modern subway today. For a single MetroCard ticket, hop on and go back in time, rattan seats and all!

All aboard the Holiday Nostalgia Train in New York City

To celebrate the first year anniversary of the Second Avenue Subway, this year’s Holiday Nostalgia trains will run along the F line between Second Ave and Lexington Ave/63rd Street, and along the Q line between Lex/63rd Street and 96th Street. They will be running on Sundays only this holiday season, on:

November 26th

December 3rd

December 10th

December 17th

December 24th.

The trains will depart the 2nd Avenue station on the F line at 10:00 a.m., 12:00 p.m., 2:00 p.m. and 4:00 p.m., and from the 96th street station on the Q line at 11:00 a.m., 1:00 p.m., 3:00 p.m. and 5:00 p.m.


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So how was it?

Fun! Interesting! I went with my girls (and brother and nephew) this past Sunday, we all swiped our MetroCards, and took the Q line train at 11:00 a.m. We had heard to arrive early for some train viewing and photo taking before departure, and that’s just what we did. Indeed, there was a crowd of people already there with cameras out; though, thankfully, it wasn’t obnoxiously crowded.

Once we boarded the train, we were taken back in time with rattan seating, ceiling fans, light bulbs, “drop-sash” style windows, vintage roll signs and original advertisements. The ads were probably my favorite part of the train – Ben-Gay anyone?…Any takers for a spin on the coaster at Rockaway’s Playland? They were lots of fun to see, and to the poor people I kept asking to move so I could take a photo, thank you.

Rockaways advertisement on the Holiday Nostalgia train ride in New York city

Ceiling fan on the Holiday Nostalgia Train in New York City


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Interestingly, there were also people dressed up in period clothing, who really got into it. This clearly is a “thing”. So the eye candy was everywhere, from the décor to the people.

The kids were able to snag a seat, and my brother and I became straphangers, just like back in the day. At every other stop we would walk down to the next car to check it out – each one with their own decor – and to see all the advertisements. We did have one moment where we stopped for about 7 minutes, but I never felt too nervous, as there was MTA staff everywhere – about 2 per car. They are older trains after all!

Most people were like us, eager to see the vintage trains, while some others were genuinely there to use the subway system and get from point A to point B. And some others you could tell, were utterly confused! Clearly, they did not receive the memo about the nostalgia cars.

Heinz mayonnaise ad on the holiday nostalgia train in NYC

Aunt Jemima advertisement on the holiday nostalgia train in New York City

If you’re in New York, and looking for a unique activity to do with the kids (or without), check out the holiday nostalgia trains and take a ride back in time.


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Guide to the Holiday Nostalgia Train in New York City

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Wander Mum
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31 Comments

  1. November 30, 2017 / 4:23 am

    lovely train #farawayfiles

  2. Wherejogoes
    November 30, 2017 / 8:44 am

    I Love this! The vintage advertisements and the people in period costume really make it a trip into the past. What a wonderful idea – I bet many New Yorkers enjoy this trip down memory lane! #FarawayFiles

    • December 1, 2017 / 1:50 am

      I’m not sure how many years it’s been going but it’s a great way to see and experience old New York!

    • December 1, 2017 / 1:50 am

      I know! It’s pretty cool. Just a few times a year!

  3. Clare Thomson
    November 30, 2017 / 10:00 am

    What a fun thing to do, Corey! I’ve ridden on vintage cars and steam trains in the UK which is always really enjoyable. The thing I’d most love about this is the fabulous recreation of advertisements and the people in period clothes. You could almost kid yourself that you really were on a time machine! #FarawayFiles

    • December 1, 2017 / 1:52 am

      Exactly! The period costumes really added to it, but my favorite part was the advertisements. Trip down memory lane – well, not memory as I wasn’t born but you know what I mean!

  4. November 30, 2017 / 11:06 am

    What a fun thing to do – I love how people dressed up too.

    • December 1, 2017 / 1:52 am

      I know, they really got into it!

  5. November 30, 2017 / 1:07 pm

    This is wonderful! I would definitely want to do this if I were in NYC! Such a fun treat!! Love the photos, and the period costumes. were they people just getting into the spirit or hired by the MTA? #farawayfiles

    • December 1, 2017 / 1:53 am

      That’s a great question, Hilary, and one my brother and I were asking when we were on the train. I have a feeling it was a combo, but I need to explore more of that and see how involved the MTA gets.

  6. November 30, 2017 / 4:35 pm

    What a fun thing to do. My husband who is a bit of a train nerd would absolutely love to do this. It’s just like stepping back in time.

    • December 1, 2017 / 1:55 am

      Yep, total time machine. I’ve always loved history and trying to imagine the past :).

  7. vdaltonbanks
    December 1, 2017 / 7:43 am

    This looks so fun!! I love all the old advertising posters. Really interesting! #farawarfiles

    • December 3, 2017 / 10:28 pm

      Thank you! It was so much fun 😉

  8. December 2, 2017 / 1:47 am

    I loved this when I saw this on your Instagram- what a massive treat! I think would just ride up and down admiring all the people in vintage dress ❤️. #farawayfiles

    • December 3, 2017 / 10:29 pm

      Yes – that was definitely a cool thing to see. Thanks!

  9. December 4, 2017 / 6:57 am

    Amazing those old trains are still functional. It must be really cool to experience such ride. #FarawayFiles

    • December 6, 2017 / 11:46 pm

      It was a cool experience for sure 🙂

  10. December 5, 2017 / 8:01 am

    So awesome that you got to ride on this! I bet it was like a blast from the past kinda feeling! Would love to do this too one day! Pinned for later! Hopefully they’ll bring it out again! #CityTripping

    • December 6, 2017 / 11:47 pm

      They come out every year holiday season so we’ll be doing it again!

  11. December 5, 2017 / 12:37 pm

    This looks so good! I love all the retro advertising on the train as well, it’s an awesome touch. #citytripping

    • December 6, 2017 / 11:47 pm

      Yes – the ads were my favorite part 🙂

  12. December 5, 2017 / 3:30 pm

    It’s something a little different. Love the period costume, the uniforms make my heart ache. Such difficult times. #citytripping

    • December 6, 2017 / 11:48 pm

      The costumes were indeed a great touch – thanks for the comment.

  13. December 6, 2017 / 6:00 am

    Oh I’m bummed that we’re going to miss this during our upcoming trip to New York, I’d have loved to take the vintage train. I’m secretly a bit of a train geek and love everything to do with train travel, including subway trains. The vintage ads and costumes add such a great touch of authenticity. #citytripping

    • December 6, 2017 / 11:52 pm

      The ads were my favorite part. Are you getting excited for your trip? Can’t wait to hear what you decide to see and do!

  14. December 7, 2017 / 10:06 am

    This looks great fun. I all for stepping back in time and imagining life in the past. I’m particularly a fan of the vintage posters they say a lot about the era. Well done to those getting dressed up and I can just imagine the bemused faces of those who were just getting the tube with no clue what was going on! Thanks for linking #citytripping

    • December 7, 2017 / 5:50 pm

      Yes, the confused people was the best part!

  15. December 13, 2017 / 11:24 am

    Oh I love this! The authenticity, like stepping back in time! I would definitely want to try to see this in NYC. Impressed they have kept them running. Thanks for sharing Corey! #FarawayFiles

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