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Rail News: Passenger Rail

National Building museum hosts transit exhibit

Since the 1880s, transit has played an integral role in the physical and social growth of cities and suburbs. The National Building Museum in Washington, D.C., has explored that role and plans to reveal its findings in an exhibit, On Track: Transit and the American City, which opens to the public Jan. 26.

The exhibition is divided into composite cities representing three major historical eras: "Expanding City" (1880s - 1920s), "Suburban City" (1920s - 1960s) and "Regional City" (1960s to present). They’ll illustrate cities’ early growth in building and technology, electric rail transit’s demise with the introduction of automobiles, and how the reintroduction of rail transit continues to shape cities and their surrounding regions today.

To aid these illustrations, the museum is including a replica of the front of a Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority Metrorail car, a 1910 streetcar, a 1929 Ford Model A automobile, an early fare collector, early 20th century tickets and transfers, a conductor’s hat and uniform from 1927, a "T" sign from Boston’s Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority, and a silver Tiffany tray commemorating the New York subway.

A public lecture on the future of U.S. rail transit is scheduled for Jan. 24 to kick off the exhibit’s opening. Speakers including U.S. Secretary of Transportation Norman Mineta, Federal Transit Administrator Jennifer Dorn, New York City Transit President Lawrence Reuter, and WMATA General Manager and Chief Executive Officer Richard White plan to address ways transit systems can enhance security and respond to disasters similar to Sept. 11.

The exhibit is slated to remain at the museum through Oct. 27.

Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

More News from 1/23/2002