Abandoned Redbird – Queens, New York - Atlas Obscura
Pre-order the second edition of our bestselling book now.

Queens, New York

Abandoned Redbird

A retired subway car stands alone in a field in the middle of Queens. 

The Redbird trains are probably the most iconic New York subway cars in history, running on some of the numbered IRT lines (2, 4, 5, 6, and 7) for around 40 years. They were painted red to combat graffiti in the 1980s, and retired in the early 2000s in favor of more modern trains with electronic signage and automated announcements.

Nearly 1,300 of the now-obsolete cars found a second life as artificial reefs, sunk to the bottom of the ocean off the shores of Delaware, Georgia, New Jersey, North Carolina, and Virginia.

But not all of the Redbirds ended up in a watery grave; a few found their way to collections like that of the New York Transit Museum. One particular car, R33 9075, ended up back in Queens across from the Borough Hall in the Kew Gardens neighborhood, to serve as a tourism center dispensing information on the culturally diverse borough’s assortment of attractions and eateries. 

Unfortunately, being located a 40-minute subway ride from Manhattan means Kew Gardens doesn’t see many visitors, and the center was most frequented by confused locals who wandered in to see why there was a train sitting in the middle of the grass. With only 12 visitors on an average day, it was finally closed in 2015. The subway car remains on display, though, and curious onlookers can climb the platform and peer through the windows to see relics of a bygone time.

Know Before You Go

Take the E or F train to Union Turnpike - Kew Gardens and follow the signs pointing to the criminal court. The Redbird is located right next to Queens Borough Hall. Though the tourism center is permanently closed, you can still climb the stairs or use the ramp to look inside the car.

Community Discussion