Straphangers in 1940. Photo by Morris Huberland via NYPL

Have you ever fallen into the internet wormhole which is the the MTAinfo YouTube page? Well boy are you missing out! The diamonds in the rough, hidden among the hour plus MTA public hearing and board meeting videos, are the vintage subway clips, often in the form of vaguely promotional documentaries and blatantly promotional commercials.

With the subway officially in crisis and seemingly getting worse everyday, the L train’s extended closure and tomorrow’s commute forever looming overhead, pols too busy denying responsibility to help and the federal government hopelessly inept, it can be difficult to anticipate improvement anytime soon. It’s no secret though that, like the city as a whole, there used to be exponentially more crime, trash, and disinvestment in the subways just a few decades ago as compared to today.

So while they shouldn’t actually reassure you, these hopeful bits of MTA- and New York City Transit Authority-approved promotional footage from New York’s not so distant past are uplifting in showing us that even in the borderline bankruptcy days of the late 20th century, straphangers persevered. Without further delay, 7 clips ranked from least to the most uplifting:

7. Ominous whistling never dissuaded anyone from tagging the subway

6. This jingle really hypes the JFK air train.

5. Certainly if the subway fare were reduced back down to 15 cents our standards would also be lowered significantly

4. People seemed so much more hopeful about the subway back in the day, at least according to this clip

3. That’s it, straphangers: shame the litter bug and his gahbige

2. If these children can have so much faith in the subway in 1989, we can too…right?

1. Let’s bring back calling them MetroCard Golds while we still have them

Want more? Check out the three part 1961 series “Daily Miracle” (here’s part 1, part 2, and part 3) and the 1970’s far less positively construed “Where Do We Go From Here?” (part 1, part 2, part 3).

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