Celebrating New York's Subway in Film and Song

Frank Sinatra (left) and Gene Kelly  in 'On the Town' i

In 1949's On the Town, Frank Sinatra (left) and Gene Kelly play sailors looking for a good time in New York, where "people ride in a hole in the groun'." Corbis hide caption

itoggle caption Corbis
Frank Sinatra (left) and Gene Kelly  in 'On the Town'

In 1949's On the Town, Frank Sinatra (left) and Gene Kelly play sailors looking for a good time in New York, where "people ride in a hole in the groun'."

Corbis
The Duke Ellington Orchestra performs 'Take the A Train' i

The Duke Ellington Orchestra performs "Take the A Train" with singer Bette Roche in the 1943 film Reveille with Beverly. Corbis hide caption

itoggle caption Corbis
The Duke Ellington Orchestra performs 'Take the A Train'

The Duke Ellington Orchestra performs "Take the A Train" with singer Bette Roche in the 1943 film Reveille with Beverly.

Corbis

This month, the New York City subway system turns 100. When it opened on Oct. 27, 1904, the subway was not America's first underground transit system. But it transformed the nation's largest city and how the world viewed it.

Over the decades, depictions of New York's subway in film and song have reflected the ever-changing image of the Big Apple itself. In the first of a series of reports, NPR's Robert Smith examines the New York subway's role in pop culture.

The Subway in Song

Hear excerpts of music that celebrates the Big Apple's underground transit system:

— Performed by the Duke Ellington Orchestra, with Ella Fitzgerald

Listen: 'Take the A Train'

— From the 1962 Broadway musical Subways Are for Sleeping

Listen: 'New York, New York'

— Sung by Mickey Rooney in the 1948 MGM musical Words and Music

Listen: 'Subway Directions; Ride Through the Night'

— Performed by Sammy Davis Jr.; recorded in 1957

— From the 1949 film On the Town; sung by Frank Sinatra and Gene Kelly

Listen: 'Manhattan'

Listen: 'New York's My Home'

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