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Mapping Local and Commuter Rail Transit in NYC: IRT

This guide covers how to research for maps related to subways and railroads in New York City within the Lionel Pincus and Princess Firyal's Map Division.

Quick Facts about the IRT

  • Interborough Subway CarIRT is an initialism of the Interborough Rapid Transit Company.
  • Years of Note: 
    • Launched the first subway in NYC on October 27, 1904.
    • Signed the Dual Contracts in 1913 with the Brooklyn Rapid Transit Company (BRT), which divided subway operations between the IRT and BRT, and aimed to both improve and build new lines.
    • Purchased in 1940 by the City of New York, unifying IRT with BMT and the already city-owned IND; managed by New York City Board of Transportation (mayor).
    • In 1953, the Board of Transportation was replaced with today's New York City Transit Authority.

Image Source: Interborough Subway Car. 1901-1905. NYPL Digital Collections Image ID 2040753

A Selection of IRT Maps at NYPL's Map Division

Map showing the lines of the Interborough Rapid Transit Co.

Image Source: Map showing the lines of the Interborough Rapid Transit Co. 1904. NYPL Digital Collections Image ID 1113707

How to Search the Catalog for IRT Maps

Online Research Catalog

When using the Online Research Catalog:

  • In the Advanced Search function, checkmark "Cartographic" under Format.
  • If you are interested in finding maps created by the Interborough Rapid Transit Company, we recommend the following searches into the Author field:
  • Not all maps that include IRT routes were created by the rapid transit company itself. Commercial, government, and other rapid transit companies would also showcase these local transit lines on their maps. As such, to include these maps in your search results, we recommend the following searches in the Keyword field:
  • Please note that you can have narrow your search to more specific results by combining the above search terms with any of the terms listed in the "Terms to Search in the Online Research Catalog" portion of this guide's Using Our Catalogs page.

Dictionary Catalog

Additional Recommended Books and Documents at NYPL

To find supplementary books and documents related to the IRT, please conduct the searches listed on this page's "Catalog Tips" with "Cartographic" NOT checkmarked  in either our Online Research Catalog or Digital Collections Portal. See below for a list of recommended materials: