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Sites to See: The New York Subway

One hundred years ago, New York City already was one of the largest cities in the world. A lack of efficient and speedy transportation, however, made growth into the boroughs beyond Manhattan difficult. Then, along came the subway -- and the vast cityscape we know today began to emerge. As the city celebrates the October 27, 2004, Subway Centennial, the Web sites below can help your students discover what a difference a train makes! Included: Web sites filled with interactive activities, historical information, photographs, interdisciplinary lessons plans and more for the grade 3-12 classroom!


In March,1900, New York City Mayor Robert Van Wyck broke ground for the Interborough Rapid Transit subway, New York City's first underground rapid transit railroad. On October 27, 1904, that first IRT subway line went into operation - and forever changed the face of the city.

The sites below, which focus on the 2004 Subway Centennial celebrations, will help students discover the power of transportation to move more than people or product.

Subway Centennial: Student Activity Depot
Educational resources and activities can be found at this site, maintained by the New York Transit Museum in partnership with the Metropolitan Transit Authority. Online Gallery Talks -- Web Casts on the centennial available to educators -- are listed here, as are transportation-related classroom activities in almost any subject area. Students can write poetry on making connections, compose songs, digitally record speeches, or reenact the life of a 1900s journalist. Students can post some of their work to an online Gallery, and educators can review notes and find additional resources.

NYC Subway Centennial
Click the History link at the top of this site's main page to find a brief account of the creation and history of the NYC subway. The text at this official Centennial site from the Metropolitan Transit Authority is written for grades 7-12, or as background material for teachers. Click the Granville T. Woods link for additional information, and for printable brochures of machines created by that African-American inventor. The Historic Subways Scenes links offers printable pictures related to the creation of the transit system.

All Aboard New York City!
The Time for Kids' coverage of the NYC Subway Centennial includes an informative article on the start of the subway that should be readable for students in grade 3 and above. Follow the World Report link at the bottom of the page for a link to the five longest subway systems in the world. Or, have students share their opinions on the story by filling in comment cards found at the What do You Think? link.

NYC Subway Turns 100
An excellent resource for the high school classroom, this site contains nine articles on the NYC subway system from National Public Radio. Check out the photo gallery under Visions of the Subway. Articles are cross-disciplinary, with discussions of music, technology, art, mysteries, and first person narratives about the transit system.

Lesson Plan: People Movers
This middle school lesson plan, by PBS Kids, although not specifically about the centennial celebration, does focus on the NYC subway and transportation. Students can read the site's background information on subways, and then you might lead them in a discussion of the purpose of mass transit. Students also can create a mass transit system for their own community, using a printable worksheet in which they assess the transportation needs of pre-teens in the community.


Learn about more great sites for students, parents, and educators by visiting Education World's Site Reviews Archives.