Every once in a while, life hands you an opportunity that seems too good to be true, whether it's 75,000 lightly-used ball pit balls or Greek islands that are less expensive than NYC apartments. Today, we present you with one such once-in-a-lifetime deal: you can now bid on a retired Redbird subway car for the bargain starting price of just $6,500.
Redbird Car #9075 is a 50-foot, 40-ton car that seats 44 people. It was previously used, among other purposes, to transport New Yorkers to and from the 1964 World’s Fair in Flushing Meadows Corona Park. It was officially retired in 2003, when the entire fleet was replaced with the stainless-steel cars people are familiar with today.
But unlike its fellow Redbirds, this particular car was rescued from a watery grave by then-Queens Borough President Helen Marshall and given a new life as a tourist center and museum just outside of Queens Borough Hall. (The MTA sold the car to the city for $1.)
According to The New York Times, current Queens borough president Donovan Richards wants to change things up at Queens Borough Hall. That's what led to the auction, which started yesterday and runs through July 2nd, though it may be extended longer. (You can get all the info about the auction and how to bid here.)
The auction is being overseen by the NYC Department of Citywide Administrative Services, who say this is the last surviving Redbird — and there are currently no bids on the car.
If you have someplace to house it, just imagine what you could do:
- Turn it into a very hip and exclusive bar called The Redbird Room!
- Open your own underground transit museum dedicated solely to red items discarded on the tracks!
- Lean into the name and turn it into a bird sanctuary!
- Let street artists run wild with it!
- Donate it to Coalition for the Homeless!
- Transform it into some sort of surreal Twin Peaks-inspired Red Room! That decommissioned subway car you love is indeed coming back in style!
The Redbirds fleet — named for the cars' "Gunn Red" facades, even though they technically came in a variety of colors besides red — ran between 1959 and 2003. They were decommissioned in the early '00s, with over 700 of them “reefed” off the coasts of New Jersey, South Carolina, North Carolina and most famously Delaware, which is home to Redbird Reef.
In addition to their bright paint jobs, they had individual metal handholds, linear fiberglass seating and various flooring patterns, including checkered tiles. Jodi Shapiro, curator at the New York Transit Museum, previously told Gothamist that the Redbirds “were introduced into our subway system at a time of great prosperity for the system."
The Transit Museum has an exhibit all about the fleet — Reign of the Redbirds — currently up, and Shapiro said it's a testament to their design that they've retained their popularity all these years later
“It's not just the citizens of New York who feel emotionally attached to these types of cars, but the people who worked with them every day feel an affinity for them as well," she said. "Which is why I say this show is like a love letter, because everybody loves the Redbirds.”