On a summer evening, an outbound R-32 car leaves Marcy Street station in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, New York. In the background is the former Williamsburg Savings Bank dome, now an event hall. Further on is the eponymous bridge of Williamsburg.
In 1964, the brand-new R-32 stainless steel “Brightliners” were fresh from Philadelphia’s Budd Company and were the rage in New York City. Why? Not only were they new, they were ribbed silver which was a tremendous contrast to the riveted, drab, dirty, dark green of New York’s everyday subway rolling stock. They caused many a jaded commuter to adjust their sunglasses. And the kicker? For the first time in history, NYCTA had cars that were AIR CONDITIONED! This was tremendous news for NYC subway riders if they were lucky enough to catch them.
Now in 2016, the old soldier R-32’s are the antiques of the fleet. Their once vaulted air conditioning is weak compared to the newest members of the fleet and in the summer they are often replaced by younger members who can handle the load.
I am privileged to ride these valiant old soldiers, twice a day. Yes, they are plain, spare and are not fancy by any means. But day after day, due to the superb skill of the maintenance crews at the Coney Island Overhaul Facility, they do the job.
Someday, their day will be done. I will be there to thank them for a job well done and for their connection with our past.
Soldier on R-32’S!