N.Y. Today: Subway car 9075, where are you?

What you need to know for Tuesday.

Good morning. It's Tuesday. Today, trains, planes and no automobiles (except in the daily update about alternate-side parking).

Suzanne DeChillo/The New York Times

Question: How much would someone pay for a subway car from the 1960s that will probably need help from a crane and a truck to get wherever it is going?

Answer: $235,700, crane and truck not included.

That was the winning bid in a city auction of subway car No. 9075, a "redbird" car that was retired in the early 2000s. Where it is going and how it will get there are mysteries, at least for now.

New York City identified the buyer as Jasmine Levett, representing a limited liability company, House 32, L.L.C. Levett did not return telephone calls or answer emails seeking comment on what she had in mind for the subway car, which ran on the numbered lines from the early 1960s to 2003. But a document filed in California in 2020 said House 32's business was art sales.

It was sold "as is" and "where is." The webpage for the auction listed its condition as "good," although cars like No. 9075 were routinely described with words like "rusty" or "rattletrap" as they approached life after passengers.

"People treasure these icons of New York," said Mitchell Moss, a professor of urban policy and planning at New York University. "They're like a box seat at the old Yankee Stadium."


As for where No. 9075 is right now, it has sat outside Queens Borough Hall for years, on a stretch of track not much longer than it is, which is just over 51 feet. The Queens borough president, Donovan Richards, wanted it removed in a reimagining of the building and grounds.

The auction webpage said the buyer would have no more than 10 business days to haul it away. But Anessa Hodgson — a spokeswoman for the Department of Citywide Administrative Services, which sells surplus city property — said the timing was somewhat flexible. It takes time to get permits for the equipment to move it, she said.

The bidding started at $6,500 last month and climbed to $31,000 before July 15, the last day of the auction. Interest jumped in the morning, with bids reaching $79,900 shortly before noon. Levett's bid came in less than three hours later.

The sale price was 23,569,900 percent more than what the redbird cost the city. Yes, 23.57 million percent. The Metropolitan Transportation Authority, the state agency that runs the subways, sold No. 9075 to the city for only $1 in the early 2000s, when one of Richards's predecessors wanted it installed outside Queens Borough Hall.


"The buyer should call Pete Davidson and Colin Jost of 'Saturday Night Live,'" said Adrian Untermyer, an attorney and transit expert, referring to the two stars who bought a decommissioned Staten Island Ferry boat in January. "They are kindred spirits, to say the least. They all looked at a hulking, rusting piece of transportation history and said, 'I'll take a stab at that.'"


It's a partly sunny day with temperatures near the mid-80s. At night, prepare for a chance of showers and thunderstorms, with temps dropping to the low 70s.


In effect until Aug. 15 (Feast of the Assumption).

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Behind New York's $25 billion airport modernization

Thomas Prior for The New York Times

New York is not exactly known for state-of-the-art airports. In 2014, then-Vice President Joseph Biden compared landing at La Guardia to arriving in "some third-world country."

The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, which runs the airports, is spending $25 billion to rebuild, renovate and reinvigorate the three major airports. I asked Patrick McGeehan, who writes about transportation and infrastructure for the Metro section, how the work is going.

What will we see if we're flying off to some vacation spot? Where do the renovations stand right now, airport by airport?

It's a daily occurrence now for travelers flying in or out of La Guardia Airport to be startled by the rebuilding that has transformed that airport. It now has two new main terminals that are modern, bright and filled with shops, restaurants and art. Those terminals were built from the ground up, with glass walls and high ceilings, to replace three terminals that had mortified New Yorkers for decades.

Most of the improvements at La Guardia are complete, except for some gates and an elevated walkway that will link them to Terminal C. The security checkpoints have state-of-the-art screening equipment that should reduce the time travelers spend waiting in lines there.

The next big development will come in the fall with the opening of a terminal to replace Terminal A at Newark Liberty International — that airport's first wholly new terminal in almost 35 years.

At Kennedy International, some big projects are just getting underway. One involves the construction of a massive terminal to replace Terminals 1, 2 and 3. The Port Authority also plans to untangle the spaghetti bowl of roadways at J.F.K.

How bad were conditions at the airports?

Each of the three airports had conditions you wouldn't expect to stumble into after flying into the nation's biggest city.

Travelers complained constantly about leaky ceilings, broken escalators, even rats in the terminals. One frequent traveler likened the old La Guardia to a bus terminal. Rick Cotton, the executive director of the Port Authority, acknowledged that "La Guardia, parts of Newark and parts of J.F.K. were just disgraces."

Why did the three airports deteriorate so much? Why didn't the Port Authority modernize them sooner?

Part of the problem stemmed from the way the agency managed the airports. It acted as a landlord but left maintenance of the terminals largely to the airlines and private companies that operated them.

Then, after the Sept. 11 terrorist attack destroyed the World Trade Center, the Port Authority was consumed with rebuilding its campus in Lower Manhattan. Not until the memorial and museum there were surrounded by new office towers did the agency's leaders really focus on fixing up the airports.

How did the pandemic affect the work at the three airports?

Early on, the pandemic briefly halted work on the airport improvements, putting them behind schedule. But the sharp drop in air travel over the first two years of the pandemic gave construction crews more room to maneuver and make up for lost time.

La Guardia's terminals were completed on time. But Newark Liberty's new Terminal A will be opening at least a couple of months later than originally anticipated.

Will all this make the airports run more smoothly? What about flight delays?

While the time that travelers spend inside the airports should be considerably more pleasant and comfortable, it probably won't be much shorter. The airspace around New York City remains among the most congested in the world. With so many planes trying to get in and out of three airports within several miles of Midtown Manhattan, delays will still be common. No runways have been added, and no new ones are planned.

But the new configuration of terminals and gates — they are farther apart — freed up space for planes to circulate as they come and go on the tarmac. That might help shorten trips and reduce delays, but only a little.


World's Fair

Dear Diary:

In 1964 my parents allowed my cousins and me to go to the New York World's Fair and spend the night at our grandmother's apartment. She was not there.

We were three girls: 16, 14 and 12. We dangled our feet in the Solar Fountain, discovered how we would look with different-colored hair at the Clairol pavilion and ate Belgian waffles.

The high point was sitting on our grandmother's deck and gazing at the lights of the city while trying to smoke some cigars we found in the apartment. We were all wearing baseball caps turned backward.

— Caroline Heald

Glad we could get together here. See you tomorrow. — J.B.

Melissa Guerrero and Ed Shanahan contributed to New York Today. You can reach the team at nytoday@nytimes.com.

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