Understanding New York subway routes in 1966

The New York City subway of today has much in common with the subway of the mid-1960s: most of the train numbers and letters are the same, and they generally follow the same routes they did more than 50 years ago.

But some things have changed, as this guide to the various subway routes (included with a 1966 folded subway map) shows. For one thing, I don’t think anyone born after the 1960s knows the different lines as the IND, IRT, or BRT, though these initials remain on some old station signage.

The double letters indicating a local train are also long gone. And what happened to trains like the HH, or the T? The MTA seemed to offer more shuttles back then, like for 145th Street. And I’m guessing the Myrtle Local is today’s M train?

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34 Responses to “Understanding New York subway routes in 1966”

  1. Tony Towle Says:

    I never heard of the BRT. That branch of the system was called the BMT.

  2. Janice Schiestl Says:


    Sent from iPhone Janice

  3. ForceTubeAvenue Says:

    The BRT was the predecessor to the BMT. It was a BRT train that was involved in the multi-fatality crash at Malbone Street, near today’s Prospect Park station. The crash was so horrendous, Malbone Street was renamed Empire Boulevard. The Myrtle local was the Myrtle Avenue elevated, running from downtown Brooklyn to Ridgewood, Queens. The stainless steel subway car with the aqua stripe was an R38, brand new at the time. I could go on. Thanks for the map. Cheers

    • ironrailsironweights Says:

      There’s still a two-block stretch of Malbone Street that escaped the renaming.


      • Kiwiwriter Says:

        That’s because of the Malbone Street Police Station on the street, which pre-dates the disaster.

        The precinct (which bears a number now) responded to the Malbone Street crash.

        If you look carefully at the northern entrance to the western tunnel on the Franklin Avenue Shuttle, you can see chipped stone, caused by the 1918 crash.

  4. Rich W Says:

    The Myrtle local was the Myrtle Ave el train running along Myrtle Ave to flushing Ave. amd then to queens. A part of the superstructure of the el still remains today for 2 blocks on Myrtle near flushing Ave. The M train runs into Brooklyn via the Williamsburg bridge.
    The west end train was the B train and ran elevated along 86 St in Brooklyn like the D does today.
    The 14 St line was the L train of today.

  5. John Goodman Says:

    BMT = Brooklyn-Manhattan Transit

  6. Andrew J. Lederer Says:

    The Myrtle Ave El was (mostly) torn down in 1969, I think, if that factors into your Myrtle Local thinking.

  7. countrypaul Says:

    Pretty confusing reading for someone not familiar with the city. They’ve cleaned things up since then, of course. Thanks for the memory flash – I remember that subway map!

  8. countrypaul Says:

    I should mentioned that a few years ago, on a subway museum tour of The Hub in the Bronx, there was still a tile sign in an active corridor directing people to the Third Avenue El. (I love those anachronisms….)

  9. Erwin Schaub Says:

    Yes, Today’s M Train roughly correlates to the Myrtle Local in the old guide. Main difference is a few years after this guide was printed, the line was truncated at Broadway, where M trains now pick up the J line. The el tracks to Jay St. Were demolished. This was the well known Myrtle Ave El, that used to cross to Manhattan on the Brooklyn Bridge, and return to Brooklyn from there.

  10. Bill Wolfe Says:

    I didn’t know the IRT was no longer called the IRT! I rode it every day to City College, circa 1980-81.

  11. ironrailsironweights Says:

    The Culver Shuttle was gone within a decade.


    • Kiwiwriter Says:

      Yes, but during that decade, it stood guard over the bocce players below, and provided local drug addicts with not one but TWO shooting galleries, as they ripped open the wire-frame doors on Fort Hamilton Parkway and 13th Avenue Stations to access the headhouses beneath the platforms.

      How do I know this? Because I walked along the abandoned tracks three times in search of souvenirs! I actually took home a few items, including a wooden wall that bore the graffiti “The End,” and the date of the shuttle’s closing.

      Some of these miscreants dragged mattresses into the headhouses and apparently lay there at night after shooting up. They seem to have done so by night, when they were less likely to be visible. I guess they went begging for drug money and buying it by day.

      The biggest reason the Culver Shuttle was closed was that a train suffered a derailment that damaged the structure in the early 1970s, when the city was flat broke. The Transit Authority’s engineers examined the mess and decided that given the shuttle’s low ridership and the heavy damage done, it just wasn’t worth it to make a permanent repair. They patched it together, and then closed the line in 1975. It took them until 1985 to demolish it. Compare that with closing the Third Avenue El in The Bronx in on April 29, 1973, and having that all knocked down by mid-1975.

  12. velovixen Says:

    I grew up on Dahill Road, about two blocks from the Culver Shuttle’s Ditmas Avenue terminus. Back then (mid 60s-early 70s), it was on its last legs. We occasionally took it to see my grandparents, who lived on 39th Street near Fort Hamilton Parkway. The difference between it and the Culver Line (today’s “F” train) was hard not to notice!

    In those days, people still commonly referred to the BMT, IRT and IND. The Culver Shuttle, in fact, connected an IND line to the BMT.

    Speaking of which: I now live near the only station where BMT and IRT trains stop on the same platform. A cherry lime rickey or chocolate egg cream to anyone who can name the station! 😉

  13. velovixen Says:

    I extend my offer (wink) to anyone who can tell us about the NX train.

    • ForceTubeAvenue Says:

      That train traveled through the Stillwell Avenue Terminal connecting the Brighton and West End lines. (May have been Sea Beach)

      • velovixen Says:

        Force Tube-I congratulate you on two counts : for answering both of my questions, and for taking your screen ID from the coolest street name in Brooklyn.

        (To my knowledge, the NX was the only line in the history of NYC subways for which the Stilwell Avenue station was a stop, but not a terminus.)

        So…Are you going to take me up on my offer?

      • ForceTubeAvenue Says:

        Due to Covid and some other physical challenges, I will have to take a rain check on your kind offer. However, I complement your knowledge of things ephemeral! Cheers and regards.

  14. John Daly Says:

    On Mon, Feb 8, 2021 at 3:14 AM Ephemeral New York wrote:

    > ephemeralnewyork posted: ” The New York City subway of today has much in > common with the subway of the mid-1960s: most of the train numbers and > letters are the same, and they generally follow the same routes they did > more than 50 years ago. But some things have changed, as ” >

  15. Marc I Whinston Says:

    I have that map — somewhere — and can look it up if/when I find the map. But I believe the Myrtle Local is what was at some point called the MJ. It started in Queens at Metropolitan Avene — where the M ends now. It went south along the present day M until the point where the M joins the J train heading along Broadway toward Manhattan. At that point the Myrtle local continued along Myrtle Av toward downtown Brooklyn.

    The upper level trestle of the old MJ can still be seen as it crosses over the Myrtle Avenue, Broadway station.

    Incidentally, just East of that station, the track for the Eastbound M train and the track for the Westbound J train cross each other at the same level, so sometimes trains have to stop to wait for each other at an intersection. To my knowledge, this is one of only two places in the subway system that tracks in passenger serviced cross each other. I mentioned that in this blogpost: https://marcwhinston.blogspot.com/2018/12/subway-dream-fulfilled.html

    • countrypaul Says:

      Interesting blog post, Marc. Rail remnants in NYC are fascinating, as they reflect a different orientation of the city compared to now. In your blog post (which I checked out) you mention the 5 train from 180th to Dyre Avenue. It was part of the almost-forgotten New York, Westchester and Boston, a high-speed interurban that ran for 25 years from 1912-1937 from a terminal in the south Bronx (finally completely demolished in the last decade) where passengers transferred to the Third Avenue El and then north to White Plains and Port Chester. There was an immense viaduct from where its right-of-way diverged from paralleling the New Haven line up to the 180th Street station, also taken down early in this century. Originally, the Second Avenue Subway was proposed to tunnel under the Harlem River and use that right-of-way up to Dyre Avenue, but I guess that dream was too big to realize.

      For more history, see:
      and especially the well-researched and lovingly curated fan site with lots of photos:
      The recently renovated E. 180 St. station was its headquarters. The line was monumentally built; artifacts remain in Westchester, as well as neighborhoods it helped to build.

      • Kiwiwriter Says:

        The Dyre Avenue line’s subway section at Pelham Parkway is where NYCTA bigshot Don Harold hid his train of five Low-Vs from scrappers, using one of the two middle tracks. He was so successful at outwitting the scrap men, the TA issued a memo saying it would be a good idea to keep a “museum train” of Low-Vs.

        As soon as they did, Harold triumphantly drove his train out of its latest hiding place — someone had sussed out the Dyre Avenue tunnel — and into Coney Island Yard. That train is now in the hands of the Transit Museum and is the one they use on fantrips and excursions. It’s in great shape for a 100-year-old train, but it is a beneficiary of an industrial concept the Americans perfected as early as 1850: standardized parts.

      • countrypaul Says:

        So THAT’S how that wonderful trained survived! Thank you for the history. I know that sections of the old express tracks of the Dyre Avenue line are now used for testing equipment. Also, one or two tracks are in place north of the station to the Westchester mine which are used for train storage. The last time I was there in person they ended in the woods, but I have seen a Google map aerial view showing a cleared industrial-looking area on the west side of the right-of-way. I need to check it out in person….

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