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End of line for Redbird subway cars

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End of line for Redbird subway cars

By PETE DONOHUE

Bye, Bye Birdie.

The last of the Redbirds, built for the 1964 World's Fair, will soon be taken off the rails.

Only 88 of the subway cars - making up eight trains - still pick up passengers on the Flushing line. They will be retired by mid-October, and will join more than 1,100 others that have been dumped off the Atlantic coast to create artificial reefs.

The Redbirds are being replaced by high-tech, stainless steel cars built by Kawasaki and Bombardier.

Although still chugging along strong, the car bodies are rusting away.

"The Redbirds did a great job serving New Yorkers for more than four decades," Transit Authority President Lawrence Reuter said. "Though they have been a New York City icon, they are being replaced with a new generation of subway car that gives up the nostalgia factor for increased reliability and an overall more pleasant riding experience."

What became known as the Redbirds because of their color are a series of car models that were built in the late 1950s and early 1960s.

The last of the bunch were ordered for the World's Fair in Flushing Meadows-Corona Park in Queens - featuring large side windows to offer fairgoers vistas of the fairgrounds and all their glory as the trains approached on the No. 7 line, TA spokesman Charles Seaton said.

Originally, the cars were blue-and-cream colored. They were painted red in the 1980s during a war against graffiti, he said.

They are the last of the painted passenger trains, and the last to have tear-shaped metal grab holds - which came after straps made of nonmetallic materials that gave birth to the term "straphanger."

It's the end of an era, and not just for subway buffs, said Clifton Hood, history professor and author of "722 Miles: The Building of the Subways and How They Transformed New York."

"It may be a point of nostalgia for someone who went to Coney Island with his family on one, or maybe went on his first date on one," Hood said. "But by the same token, the new cars are going to have some meaning to a kid 50 or 60 years from now."

The rattling Redbirds once ran on all the numbered lines. In more recent history, a Redbird on the No. 7 line that goes to Shea Stadium was decorated with Mets blue and orange for the 2000 Subway Series against the Yankees.

Here are some pictures of the redbirds from nycsubway.org:

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Nice pics. I remember seeing a special on TV that were updating all of the trains and removing these (I'm pretty sure these were the ones they were dumping into the sea in SC).

Personally, this are my favorite subway cars (outside of BART, but the color is better). Most rail cars are nice bland shiny metal look to them, these had color, and character.

BTW - It's kinda sad seeing that one picture with the twin towers in the background.

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Man, I hated those cars. They're so uncomfortable to ride, LOL!

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It's good to see they will be use for something good and not being sold for scrap

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