Stony stares and silence on the D train in 1951

The D train used to stop at Chambers Street? Here’s photographic proof, from the Life magazine photo archives.

Shot by Eliot Elisofen, it’s a haunting slice of subway past: wicker seats, men and women wearing hats, the absence of cell phones and ear buds.

Dtrain1951

Yet so much in this 62-year-old photo rings true today. Note the passengers looking away from each other and public service ads warning riders about the ramifications of poor subway etiquette.

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12 Responses to “Stony stares and silence on the D train in 1951”

  1. THOMAS GUARIANO Says:

    WHILE AT THE TIME I WAS 13 YEARS OLD BUT FONDLY REMEMBERING RIDING ON THE BMT WITH MY MOM CLUTCHING MY HAND SITTING ON THOSE MOSTLY UNDUSTRUCTABLE WICKER SEATS ON OUR WAY ON A SAT MORNING TO LOSHERS IN DOWNTOWN BROOKLYN IT WAS A DIFFERENT LIFE YESYOU MIGHT SAY TO COIN THE TITLE OF A GREAT HOLIDAY CLASSIC “IT WAS A WOUNDERFULLLIFE”

  2. mykola (mick) dementiuk Says:

    I’m 62 this year but I recall the wicker seats. As a kid I sat in them on trips to Coney Island and they were rough on a kid in shorts, I can imagine how unbearable women felt with the seat pinching and biting. Ouch! Still, they wore long skirts, I suppose, maybe that protected them though I tend to doubt it.

    • THOMAS GUARIANO Says:

      SO TRUE MY FRIEND I GUESS IF THEY WORE SLACKS AS OPPOSED TO A DRESS OR SKIRT IT WOULD HAVE BEEN EASIER AND A BIT LESS CHAFFING BUT AS WE KNOW BACK THEN THEY WORE ONLY DRESSES AND OR SKIRTS I REMEMBER ONCE I DID GET PINCHED FROM A BROKEN PIECE ON THE SEAT THAT I DID NOT SEE BUT I SURVIVED LOL

  3. Bruce R. Gilson Says:

    The sign is absolutely authentic. I remember that the D train went to Chambers St. in the early 1950s. I lived in the Lower East Side and my stop was East Broadway, then on the F train, which went to Church Ave.

  4. Maury Schott Says:

    According to Wikipedia, the D train ran downtown on what is now the A,C,E tracks from W 4th St to what is now the World Trade Center stop.It changed in 1954 when a connection to the line to Coney Island was completed.

  5. Edward Says:

    Prior to the Chrystie Street connection built in the late 1960s, many IND Sixth Ave trains terminated at Chambers Street. When the connection opened, it allowed IND trains to cross the Manhattan Bridge and run along BMT lines to Coney Island, where the “D” now terminates.

  6. THOMAS GUARIANO Says:

    I REMEMBER ALWAY’S TRANSFERING TRAINS FROM THE SAME STATION AT NEWKIRK AVE FORM THE LOCAL TOP THE EXPRESS I WOULD BOARD AT AVE H AND EAST 16TH ST WHICH WAS THE CORRIDOR FROM NEWKIRK AVE ALL THE WAY TO I BELIEVE SHEEPSHEAD BAY I SOMETIMES WOULD BYPASS MY STOP AVE H AND TAKE THE RIDE ALL THE WAY TO NECK ROAD AND COME BACK IT WAS FUN WATCHING THE BACKYARDS OF ALL THE HOUSES THAT LINES THE ROUTE I WAS AN EARLY TEEN GOOD MEMORIES

  7. chas1133 Says:

    Speaking of trains…take a trip through the Transit Museum in Bklyn if you really want to get nostalgic…what a great place….NY’er all my life and never been there until a year or so ago…really fun to see all the different iron horses from the beginning…

  8. Lady G. Says:

    Even in a candid photo like this, men and women, despite the scowls (That’s just so New York! lol) look totally classy. With their neat suits and dresses, hats, the arched eyebrows and elegant red lipstick on the woman, so nice. Now you get filthy people wearing whatever they roll out of bed with, talking loud and rudely on the cell phone, blasting music through the earbuds, and grossest of all, when they eat chicken wings or other food and lick their fingers. Ughh!

  9. Ken K. in NJ Says:

    It’s true that the D Train did end at Chambers street at one time. But seeing the destination on one of those old scroll signs on an old picture shouldn’t be taken as gospel as to the route. As young teens in the early 60′s we used to scroll thru those signs (note the scroll wheel on the RH face of the cabinet) just to see where else that particular car might have gone at other times. And, of course, sometimes we’d leave the wrong sign posted. Just for fun…

  10. My First Commute | John Kresse Says:

    […] New York describes the “stoney stares and silence” of the D train in New York City […]

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