Redbirds

The Redbirds earned their name after their General Overhaul (GOH) when David Gunn, the general manager of the NYCTA at the time, decided that the cars would be painted the same color as the cars on the Broad Street Subway in Philadelphia. A can of paint was sent from Philadelphia to New York and the Redbirds were given their name.

The Redbirds are really the R26, R28, R29, R33, and R36 car classes on the IRT (numbered lines) of the New York City subway. The Redbirds are extremely hard to tell apart except for the unit numbers and the windows.

Contract Number
Unit Numbers
Manufacturer
Years
R26
7750-7859
American Car & Foundry
1959-60
R28
7860-7959
American Car & Foundry
1960-61
R29
8570-8805
St. Louis Car Company
1962-63
R33 ML
8806-9305
St. Louis Car Company
1962-63
R33 WF
9306-9345
St. Louis Car Company
1962-63
R36 ML
9524-9557
St. Louis Car Company
1963-64
R36 WF
9346-9523
St. Louis Car Company
1963-64
R36 WF
9558-9769
St. Louis Car Company
1964

There are two types of R33 and R36 cars, mainline (ML) and World's Fair (WF). The The World's Fair cars feature larger windows on the side and have spent their entire lifespans on the 7 line. When they arrived, they were painted blue and white. One still retains this color scheme. It is WF R33 9306, which is at the Transit Museum in Downtown Brooklyn. All the Redbirds are in married pairs with the exception of the WF R33s, which are single units. They are air conditioned and have been since their GOH with the exception of the WF R33s.

The Redbirds are in the process of being retired at this time. As more R142s and R142As are accepted, the Redbirds will be retired. Most Redbirds are being sunk into the Atlantic Ocean where they will become an artificial coral reef (it is presumed asbestos inside the cars will harm collectors and tourists if they are preserved in museums and sold to private collectors but it won't harm fish). Some cars are being kept for work service. One of the features of the Redbirds was the half-width cab, which allowed a passenger to stand at the front window and see the view the operator had. This is not possible on the newer trains.

There are pictures on this website of all the Redbird car classes. To make viewing easier, they have been divided into several sections.

TRANSFER POINT


This train does not continue pass this station. In order to continue your journey, transfer to one of the trains continuing past this point, or click "BACK" to take the return trip back to New York.
Mainline Cars
The IRT Mainline consists of the 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, and 6 lines. The Redbirds ran on the 2, 4, 5, and 6 just before their retirement, and this website has pictures of all the Mainline Cars (R26, R28, R29, R33, and R36) on all those lines.
World's Fair Cars
The World's Fair cars spent their whole lives on the 7 line although a few made their way to the 6 from time to time. All pictures of Redbirds on the Flushing Line are on this page.
Farewell to the Redbirds Fantrip
NYCTA Subdivision-C ran a "Farewell to the Redbirds" fantrip on May 26, 2002 on some of the elevated lines in the Bronx to benefit the March of Dimes. The webmaster attended this trip and took these pictures.
From the Railfan Window
What is your best memory of the Redbirds? The lights flickering? The sounds the train made as you passed an express stop? For many, it is standing at the front of the train and looking out the railfan window, enjoying scenes like the ones in this gallery.
Subway Showtime: Redbirds in Action
Watch movie clips of the Redbirds in action on the Flushing Line.
Tribute to the Redbirds Music Video
A music video made by Mike (known as Dispatcher484 on several message boards) using videos from this site.
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