[New York City Subway] THE WANAMAKER VEST POCKET SUBWAY GUIDE. 12.5 cm x 13 cm, an unfolded cardboard postcard created as promotional advertising for the new New York City Wanamaker department store at Astor Place, which featured its own store entrance directly from the subway platform. Augustyn and Cohen, in MANHATTAN MAPS 1527 – 2014 state: “The first subway map to be distributed was a private venture. In 1904, Wanamaker’s, whose new department store boasted an entrance right at the downtown platform at Astor Place, published a simplified subway map heralding the coming of both the subway and the new store.” (p. 135) The image printed on the card is titled “The Wanamaker Station in the Subway at Astor Place. As it will appear when the new Wanamaker Building is completed.” This promotional post card was printed in 1904, the year in which underground subway service began in New York City. It shows the platform entrance to Wanamaker’s store, with the subway train, headlights on, travelling in the tunnel. (The earliest segment of the New York train transportation system was the above-ground Ninth Avenue El, which began operations in 1868 as a cable-hauled line.) The Wanamaker Department Store at Astor Place was being built in 1904 as an annex to the earlier A. T. Stewart store, which Wanamaker acquired, accessed by a third-floor walkway. According to Henry Collins Brown (1862 – 1961) the ground was broken in 1903 for the new store.
The Astor Place subway station is one of the original twenty-eight stations in the newly opened 1904 underground subway system in New York City. This vest pocket subway guide bears a red stamp added in 1907 when the new store opened, with an arrow pointing to the underground subway platform entrance which says, “Direct Entrance from SUBWAY to the WANAMAKER STORE NOW OPEN.” Below the image of the underground entrance to Wanamaker’s is a time table: “Time Table of the New Subway, from City Hall to 145th St. – the portion at present completed.” On the left-hand side the express stations are listed: Brooklyn Bridge, 14th Street, 42nd Street, 72nd Street, 96th Street, 103rd Street, 110th Street, 116th Street, Manhattan Street, 137th Street, 145th Street. The running times in minutes from the start, Brooklyn Bridge, are listed opposite the stations. On the right-hand side of the guide, below the image, are listed the local stations in double columns: City Hall, Brooklyn Bridge, Worth Street, Canal Street, Spring Street, Bleeker Street, Astor Place (Wanamaker’s), 14th Street, 18th Street, 23rd Street, 28th Street, 33rd Street, 42nd Street (Grand Central), 42nd Street (Broadway), 59th Street, 60th Street, 66th Street, 72nd Street, 79th Street, 86th Street, 91st Street, 96th Street, 103rd Street, 110th Street, 116th Street, Manhattan Street, 137th Street, 145th Street.
The image printed on the card, titled “The Wanamaker Station in the Subway at Astor Place. As it will appear when the new Wanamaker Building is completed.”
Below the Time Table is the “Route of the Subway,” showing those portions completed at the time of printing, 1904. This copy is believed to be one of three recorded copies of THE WANAMAKER VEST POCKET SUBWAY GUIDE with a time table of running times between express stations and a listing of the local station stops.
With the exception of a fold-furrow now repaired, the condition of this extraordinarily rare subway guide is very good, as it was never addressed, stamped or sent through the mail. The verso is very clean as is the recto with the image and printed information. The repair at the center fold is weak and should not ever be folded again, as the reattached surface paper with a few restored letters would be lost.
In Henry Collins Brown’s The New Subway in Manhattan, New York: The Winthrop Press, 1904, both the image of the underground entrance to Wanamaker’s store and the map are reproduced on separate pages: the subway map with running times is on page 21 and the image of Wanamaker’s subway platform entrance on pp. 14-15. See also: Report of the Board of Rapid Transit Railroad Commissioners for the City of New York for the Year Ending December 31, 1904. New York: 1905, Appendix I: “Rapid Transit Commission Map and Profile of Railway Shown by Contract Drawings Dated April 7, 1898. Corrected to December 31st, 1904. Wm. Barclay Parsons, Chief Engineer.”