R33 World's Fair (New York City Subway car)

The R33 World's Fair (also known as R33WF or R33S) was a New York City Subway car that was built by St Louis Car Company in 1963 for the IRT A Division. They were purchased for service on the IRT Flushing Line (7 and <7> trains), which was the closest line to the 1964 New York World's Fair.

R33 World's Fair
Train of Many Colors 4 8 08 at 40 Lowery.jpg
R33WF car 9306, in its original colors, leads the Train of Many Colors through 40 Street–Lowery St on a <7> express run to Mets–Willets Point.
NYC Subway Car (23216122122).jpg
Interior of R33WF car 9306
In service1963-2001
ManufacturerSt. Louis Car Company
Built atSt. Louis, Missouri, United States
Entered service1963
Scrapped2001 (9321)
2010 (9339)
2013 (several cars)
Number built40
Number in service(24 in work service)
Number preserved6
Number scrapped10
FormationSingle unit cars
Fleet numbers9306–9345
Capacity44 (seated)
Operator(s)New York City Subway
Car body constructionLAHT (Low Alloy High Tensile) steel
Car length51.04 feet (15.56 m)
Width8.75 feet (2,667 mm)
Height11.86 feet (3,615 mm)
Doors6 sets of 50 inch wide side doors per car
Weight75,122 lb (34,075 kg)
Traction systemWestinghouse XCA248E with Westinghouse (WH) 1447C
AuxiliariesMotor-generator and battery set (WH YX304E)
Electric system(s)600 V DC Third rail
Current collection methodContact shoe
Braking system(s)WABCO, "SMEE" (electrodynamic)
Track gauge4 ft 8 12 in (1,435 mm) standard gauge


The R33 World's Fair cars were numbered 9306–9345. The cars were very similar to the R33s, save for differently shaped side windows (three-piece curved windows on the R33WFs as opposed to three-sectioned rectangular windows on the R33s), and the fact that the R33WFs were single cars with a cab at both ends. The cars were built as single cars to make 11-car trains with the R36 World's Fair cars, which were built as married pairs.[1]

Although the R33/36 World's Fair cars were later referred to as Redbirds, the cars were originally painted in a light turquoise blue and white upon delivery. This "Bluebird" paint color scheme was used until the mid-1970s when they were painted in the silver/blue MTA livery. Then they were painted a full white (roof, bonnets, sides were all painted white) from 1981 to 1982 to combat graffiti; since the white paint was a Teflon-based paint, the graffiti did not stick to it very well. The look was abandoned for the famous Redbird style. The Redbirds were painted between 1984 and 1989 to a deep maroon red body, black front bonnets and anti-climbers, and a silver roof.


The first R33 World's Fair cars were placed in service on the 7 train on September 26, 1963.[2] The cars were solely assigned to the 7 (IRT Flushing Line) and were based out of Corona Yard.

The R33 World's Fair cars were rebuilt in-house in 1985 by the Coney Island Shop. However, they were not retrofitted with air conditioning system and instead retained their original Axiflow ceiling fans. For this reason, they were not used during the summer months due to poor air circulation or air flow and high humidity. Instead, the 7 train used 10 car trains.[3]:D.1

Retirement and after-life service

In 1998, New York City Transit announced that it would phase out its Redbird cars - R26, R28, R29, R33 and R36 - with modern R142 and R142A cars. While the Redbirds on the IRT Main Line were beginning to be retired starting in early 2001, the 7 service was still provided by R36WFs and R33WFs. In January 2002, a set of R62As arrived from the IRT mainline. As more R142s and R142As were delivered, R62As were gradually transferred from the 3 and 6 to the 7, in turn replacing the R36WFs. There were still many R36WFs on the 7 in 2002, since delivery of the R142s and R142As was slow that year. However, by mid-2003 R33WF/R36WF trains were dwindling on the 7 service. Only a few sets were running by fall. The last car, 9309, made its final trip on November 3, 2003 on the 7 service with ten R36WF cars, marking the end of the Redbirds and non-stainless steel cars in the subway.

Most R33 World's Fair cars were converted to work motors in the early 2000s, and handle such tasks as providing traction for B-Division rail adhesion cars and refuse trains. The number "1" was placed before the former number (i.e. car 9345 became 19345) of some cars. The work cars are based out of various yards around the system and handle such tasks as providing traction for A-Division rail adhesion cars and refuse trains, and hauling cars during car moves between different subway yards. The cars that were not converted were 9306 and 9327, which were preserved as heritage cars after their retirement from revenue service, and 9321, which was stripped and sunken as an artificial reef in 2001.

Recently, the remaining R33 World's Fair cars have been decommissioned as they experience structural or mechanical issues. Car 9339 was retired, stripped, and then sunken as an artificial reef in 2010 after it suffered fire damage that year. Then, in 2013, a handful of cars were stripped of parts before being scrapped to keep other IRT SMEE cars running. Most recently, four cars were sidelined in 2017, after which they were sent into preservation.

Six cars have been preserved:

  • Car 9306, 9307, 9308, 9310, and 9343 have been preserved by the New York Transit Museum in Brooklyn. 9306 is the only R33 World's Fair car to not be rebuilt, and thus bears the World's Fair paint scheme and original interior configuration. 9307, 9308, 9310 and 9343 were previously used as work motors based out of Corona Yard, before being replaced with R62A cars in 2017. Cars 9307 and 9308 are painted in the World's Fair scheme, and car 9310 is painted in the "Redbird" scheme; it is unknown what scheme 9343 will be repainted to. All cars except 9343 are fully operational and run periodically on museum sponsored "Nostalgia Trains," specifically on the Train of Many Colors.
  • Car 9327 is preserved at the Seashore Trolley Museum in Kennebunkport, Maine. This car is painted in the Subway Series livery. It is fully operational, though modified with trolley poles, and makes occasional runs around the museum, often coupled to R22 car 7371.

List of cars

A detailed list of the 40 R33 World's Fair cars is below, where bolded numbers indicate a car active in work service:

Car number Location Notes
9306 New York Transit Museum Preserved by the New York Transit Museum. Never refurbished. Painted in World's Fair scheme. Runs periodically on the Train of Many Colors.
9307 Preserved by the New York Transit Museum. Painted in World's Fair scheme. Runs periodically on the Train of Many Colors.[4][5]
9309 Unionport Yard Last unit in revenue service.[6]
Part of the IRT Dyre Avenue Line rail adhesion train.
9310 New York Transit Museum Preserved by the New York Transit Museum. Painted in Redbird scheme. Runs periodically on the Train of Many Colors.[4]
9311 239th Street Yard
9312 Retired (2013) Scrapped
9313 Scrapped
9314 Scrapped
9315 207th Street Yard
9316 239th Street Yard
9317 Retired (2013) Scrapped
9318 Scrapped
9319 207th Street Yard
9320 Retired (2013) Scrapped[7]
Was renumbered to 19320.
9321 Retired (2001) Sunken as an artificial reef; never used as a work car.[8]
9322 Unionport Yard Part of the IRT Dyre Avenue Line rail adhesion train.
9323 Now numbered 19323.
Part of the IRT Dyre Avenue Line rail adhesion train.
9324 239th Street Yard
9325 Unionport Yard Part of the IRT Dyre Avenue Line rail adhesion train.
9326 239th Street Yard
9327 Seashore Trolley Museum Painted in Subway Series livery. Runs periodically. Modified with trolley poles for operation.
9328 Retired (2013) Scrapped[9]
Was renumbered to 19328.
9329 239th Street Yard
9330 207th Street Yard Now numbered 19330.
9332 239th Street Yard
9333 207th Street Yard Now numbered 19333.
9334 Now numbered 19334.
9335 Now numbered 19335.
9336 Now numbered 19336.
9337 Now numbered 19337.
9338 Retired (2013) Scrapped[10]
Was renumbered to 19338.
9339 Retired (2010) Caught fire and sunken as an artificial reef. Was renumbered to 19339.
9340 207th Street Yard
9342 Now numbered 19342.
9343 New York Transit Museum Preserved by the New York Transit Museum.
9344 207th Street Yard. Now numbered 19344.
9345 Now numbered 19345.

See also


  1. ^ Redbirds
  2. ^ https://www.facebook.com/nytransitmuseum/posts/10155187942803843
  3. ^ NYC Transit Committee Agenda May 1994. New York City Transit. May 16, 1994.
  4. ^ a b https://www.facebook.com/nytransitmuseum/posts/10155088779783843
  5. ^ https://www.nycsubway.org/wiki/The_IRT_SMEE_Fleet_(R-12_--_R-36)
  6. ^ http://www.nycsubway.org/perl/show?27165
  7. ^ https://www.flickr.com/photos/29997762@N05/10519451513/in/photostream
  8. ^ https://www.nycsubway.org/perl/show?31311
  9. ^ http://www.nycsubway.org/perl/show?140234
  10. ^ https://www.flickr.com/photos/29997762@N05/9195900676