Today in Feminist History: Are Women-Only Train Cars the Future? (April 1, 1909)

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April 1, 1909: Women-only cars on the Hudson and Manhattan Railroad’s “Hudson Tube” route through the McAdoo Tunnel from 23rd Street in Manhattan to Hoboken, New Jersey, are proving popular.

Today’s ridership is up by 50% (3,000 vs. 2,000) over yesterday’s test run. Already being referred to as “Suffragette Cars” (a derisive term local suffragists dislike) or “Merry Widow Cars,” they are the last in each train during rush hours, from 7 to 9 in the morning and 4:30 to 7:00 in the evening.

Whether the special cars will be adopted by the five-year-old Interborough Rapid Transit Company’s subway system and be established on New York City routes is still unknown—though it seems doubtful. Hearings were held two weeks ago, and with the exception of the Women’s Municipal League, host for the discussion, there was strong opposition.

Ida Husted…

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