Hamptons Subway Newsletter: Week of December 1-6, 2011

Riders this week: 10, 923
Rider miles this week: 102,768


The new Georgica station, which has only been used by three different subway riders since it opened last month, was host to a bevy of celebrities last Saturday. Climbing on board late that night were Martha Stewart, Jon Bon Jovi, Christie Brinkley and her daughters Alexa Ray and Sailor, John McEnroe, Lorraine Bracco, Jeff Zucker, Jay McInerney, Blythe Danner, Julian Schnabel, Candice Bergen and Allen Grubman. They were all going to a late dinner at the Grubman manse after seeing a sneak preview of Spielberg’s latest movie War Goose at Goose Creek in Wainscott.


Maintenance workers cleaning a tunnel between Amagansett and Napeague have found an entire warehouse filled with old subway trains from the time when Ivan Kratz first built the system in 1932. How anybody could have missed seeing them up until this point is not comprehensible. A single railroad spur leaves the main line and goes along the floor under a giant garage door, which though not locked, had been closed.

Kratz, the larger-than-life builder of the Hampton Subway system, created Hampton Subway in 1932 in order to hide building material he had left over after building part of the Lexington Line in Manhattan that year. He had double ordered everything. He was trying not to get caught. The subway system, never opened by Kratz, remained unknown and underground until 2007, when workmen in Sag Harbor excavating a superfund site near the post office there, dug down and discovered the roof of the Sag Harbor platform. The system was opened the following year.

The subway cars found, 17 in all, were all old and worn in 1932. Kratz must have bought them used. Iron plaques on them say they were built in 1917 by the Dayton, Cleveland and Foundry Manufacturing Company in Cincinnati, Ohio. All operate with steel cranks that have to be stuck in the front grille and hand turned by the motorman to get the engines to start. Sixteen of the cars would not start, but the last turned right over with a great throaty roar when cranked. We have now put that car into our regular system for our straphangers to enjoy for the next month, not only for its joyful accouterments—gas lamps, horsehair stuffed seats and copper poles—but also to give this brave car a workout. As all antique car owners know, antique cars want to be driven. It keeps them healthy.

Straphangers will not know which train is being pulled by the ancient car until they see it. There are six trains on the circuit at any one time so five will be the regular trains. One thing straphangers will experience is a small inconvenience. The trains in service only go as fast as the slowest train. Our usual top speed between stations is 32 miles an hour. The Dayton, Cleveland and Foundry car tops out only at 11 miles an hour. Just bear with it for this month. It will take longer for you to get where you are going.


I have competed negotiations with the New York City Subway Track Junk Museum, which will open next month next to the Guggenheim on Fifth Avenue, to take possession of the 16 antique subway cars that have now been “found” in that giant storeroom. Until funding is made available for the cars to be moved to Manhattan, the cars will be on view where they are on alternate Thursdays between 2 and 5 a.m. when the system shuts down for maintenance by having a regular subway train head out to Napeague and show straphangers what we’ve got. The cost will be $20 and the tour will last one hour. Call our Hampton Bays office to make reservations. Bring a flashlight.

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