Letters From the Editor


The man who put up the cash to build the first New York City subway line (from City Hall to 145th Street) was one August Belmont, Jr. He so loved riding his subway line that he commissioned the building of his own private subway car
And when the car was delivered, it became clear that Mr. Belmont would never have a problem getting a subway seat. Nor would he have a problem getting a grilled steak or a cold glass of Champagne between stations, because his car, which he called the Mineola, came equipped with a galley. He also didn’t have to suspend his money-making pursuits while he was in transit: he signed contracts right on the elegant roll-top desk in his mahogany-lined study. He would not even have to change trains to get to his beloved racetrack on Long Island because he arranged for a connection from the subway tracks to the Long Island Rail Road tracks at the Atlantic Avenue station in Brooklyn. This way, he and his guests could board the car from a door in the basement bar of the Belmont Hotel, which stood near Grand Central Terminal, and ride express to Belmont Park.
Miraculously, the car survives (but it’s in desperate need of restoration). Yet,
…the roll-top desk still sits magisterially in the office. The oval brass striker plates, upon which cigar smokers could light their matches, still adorn the walls. And a load of light-brown sand still sits in a special compartment that was used to ‘flush’ the toilet after riders used the facilities.

Thank you, Mr. Belmont, for inaugurating the grand tradition of defecating in New York City subway cars.

Andrew Womack is a founding editor of The Morning News. He is always working on the next installment of the Albums of the Year series at TMN. More by Andrew Womack

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