BMT Standard on Sea Beach 1915
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The 20th Century was a time of amazing change, of social and technological turmoil and advance.
     Soon after World War II ended, the great fleets of electric railway equipment which revolutionized travel in America's cities began to disappear. Most of the street railway cars fell to the advance of the automobile or replacement by buses.
     The handful of rapid transit systems were not so easily eliminated, though some of the elevated lines were cut back or replaced by subways. But the older cars on these, too, began to disappear to more modern replacements.
     Not a great deal of thought was given to saving examples of electric railway equipment, except among small groups of railfans. A few excellent museums were set up by buffs, especially for trolley cars, but funds were limited to what devotees could afford to spare in money and hard work. Moreover, many of the saved cars could never again be seen or operated in anything resembling their original environments.

     New York City had the largest and most diverse car fleet in the world, operated by no fewer than five different companies, but after the three biggest companies merged in 1940 system shrinkage and replacement began to doom many of the diverse kinds of operating equipment.
     This became a crisis in the 1960s, In the view of preservationists. Almost all of the different types of elevated equipment were gone by then, as well as interesting, unusual and historic experimental and variant cars. Few went to private museums. None of the BMT experimentals were saved, nor most examples of original elevated fleets. Most of these disappeared only a few years earlier. Now the remaining examples of the first subway fleets were slated to disappear within a decade.
     What if the Transit Authority itself could be prevailed upon to save some of its old equipment, maybe even fix them up and make them available for public viewing?
     So the idea of the Transit Museum was born.

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Updated Saturday, February 15, 2003
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