La magie des vacances de nostalgie à New York


The Polar Express Meets The Golden Age of Hollywood

“One thing about trains: It doesn’t matter where they’re going. What matters is deciding to get on.” Now, this is not always the case – in fact probably never the case – for busy New Yorkers.

You can thank the lovely writers of one of my favorite Tom Hanks movies – The Polar Express – for this dose of inspirational quote; but you can thank the New York Transit Museum for making the quote somewhat a reality for nostalgic and holiday-happy New Yorkers this season. That’s because it truly doesn’t matter where the train is going when that train is… the Polar Express! Yes, that’s right. This season, you can ride the Polar Express right in the heart of the city!

Well… not quite. These trains won’t take you to the North Pole (didn’t we establish it doesn’t matter where they’re going?), but the hidden treasure Holiday Nostalgia Rides sponsored by the New York Transit Museum are still all kinds of magical. From now until December 30th you can hop on an MTA train and be transported – literally and figuratively. And no, not to post-apocalyptic New York, which I would imagine might be something like a dirty, empty subway car at night, but to the refinement, drama, and panache of the 1930’s.

The Lady vanishes Shot
Shot from The Lady Vanishes.

Here are the deets: On Sundays from November 25th through December 30th you can hop on one of the museum’s vintage 1930’s R1-9 train cars with just one swipe of your MetroCard! The train will make express stops along the F line track between 2nd Avenue and 47th-50th Streets – Rockefeller Center and will then travel up to 125th Street along the A/C/D lines.

Here’s a look at the exact stops – maybe you’d like to travel in style on your way to an otherwise intended destination.

station stops list nyc
Courtesy of New York Transit Museum Site

The trains will depart from 2nd Avenue at 10am, 12pm, 2pm, and 4pm. From 125th Street they will take off at 11am, 1pm, 3pm, and 5pm. Don’t be late!

IND R1 ‘CITY CAR’ NUMBER 100 (1930). From New York Transit Museum Collection.

Now, if you’re anything like me, you love anything vintage and you love a theme party. So what could be more fun than a vintage theme party? That travels through the greatest city on Earth? Goodbye 1920’s lawn parties on Governor’s Island, hello 1930’s glamour parties on subway cars! New Yorkers and visitors alike have taken this opportunity to dress up in their finest 30’s garb and celebrate the holiday season with flair. So make tracks and get out to the subways to star in the film of your life – think Polar Express meets Golden Age of Hollywood.

yue wang for coopersquared
Photo: Yue Wang for
Photo: amNY

 If trains aren’t your cup of tea, we’ve got you covered.

The Holiday Nostalgia Rides aren’t just limited to trains, you may just find yourself on one of the museum’s vintage buses from the 50’s or 60’s. The buses will be on the M42 bus route, running East to West (and vice versa) on 42nd Street. Union Square and Herald Square will also have old-fashioned buses you can explore. The schedule for the buses? A little more flexible – they’re picking you up Monday through Friday from 9am to 5pm from December 3rd until December 21st.

Bus #3100, 1956. From New York Transit Museum Collection.
Bus #3100, 1956. From New York Transit Museum Collection.

You might be thinking, “Wow. There are so many holiday things to do in New York. Should this be one of them?” Absolutely. Make no mistake – the Holiday Nostalgia Rides travels up the F line (AKA 6th Avenue) in Manhattan on purpose. The museum says this route is not just practical, but was chosen “as an ode to the holiday shopping season.” That way, your travel can be part of your holiday excursions. An end in-and-of-itself, not just the stressful means to an end. You can stop off at the Rockefeller Tree, see the window displays on 5th Avenue, visit the Winter Village at Bryant Park, or even end your night at Radio City – who’s Christmas Spectacular is… spectacular.

Now, if you’re still feeling overwhelmed with holiday sightseeing, I’ll let you in on one brilliant secret: take a tour. In fact, TopDogTours offers a two-hour New York Holiday Tour that brings you to all the must-see destinations and gives you some local and historic insight that you wouldn’t have heard on your own.

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