Little House on the Brooklyn Prairie

April 9, 2014

Take a look around and guess where we are.

There’s a white-washed building topped by a stout brick chimney. Rough hewn wooden posts holding up a shingled roof. Wood framed double-hung windows with slightly sagging screens. A wide porch holding an assortment of ladder-back rocking chairs, some with seats of woven rush, others with canvas webbing.

Are we in a small, sleepy Southern town? Or are we someplace in the American Heartland, perhaps an old farmstead out on the wide prairie?

Sorry, but no and no.

Actually, this rustic-looking structure is the Avenue H subway station on the Q line, deep in the heart of Brooklyn. Built in 1906, over the years the station has been updated and renovated but, thankfully, never replaced.

Now, don’t just stand there. Grab a glass of lemonade and let’s do a little rocking before we catch the next train to Brighton Beach.






The Epoch Times: Renovated Brooklyn Station House, Relic With Modern Feel
NYC Subway: Avenue H Station
Subway Nut: Avenue H 

Heydays in Bay Ridge

September 27, 2013

Some of the most charming works of art in New York City are hidden deep underground in subway stations.

The 86th Street Station in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn, is the site of a mosaic entitled Heydays. The wall-sized work by Amy Bennett pays homage to the neighborhood’s bucolic past, depicting three family homes and a church with a tall steeple, all surrounded by grass, trees and a winding brick pathway.

A close look at the pieces of glass reveals numerous finely-crafted details including a man peering through binoculars, empty lounge chairs upon a balcony, an old woman leaning out of a window, an umbrella-topped picnic table, and a dog sitting on a wooden porch.












MTA Arts for Transit and Urban Design
Amy Bennett
New York Magazine: Neighborhood Profile, Bay Ridge

Sofia? Sophia? Sofia?

August 13, 2012

This handwritten sign was posted on the side of a bus shelter in Coney Island.

I can’t help wondering whether the author taped it next to the model’s face because he thought she resembled the woman he wanted to find.

I haven’t yet decided whether Joe’s note is sweet and romantic or stalker-ish and creepy. Or both.

Sofia? Sophia? Sofia — Sophia — Sofia

This is Joe. Good looking Italian U met on July !!4th!! on the “D” train in Coney Island  — U are Spanish very beautiful  — 30, 125 lbs  —  long brown hair  — U gave me your ph. number and I lost my phone the next day!! I looked 4 U that weekend by the subway entrance but there were to many people  — anyone know a beautiful Spanish Sofia I described  —  help bring us together. Joe 374-816-3984 Thanx




A Long Day’s Journey

March 13, 2010

Resist though we might, sometimes New Yorkers are forced to leave the city. This was one of those days.

I tried to make the trip out of town as short as possible and, when the weatherman predicted a fierce rainstorm, I made sure to get an early train back. It was before 3:00 pm when I boarded the New York bound train and settled in for a journey that should have lasted about an hour and a half.

It was raining as we pulled out of the station, but the first couple of stops went as scheduled. Then, suddenly, the train stopped. A few minutes later, we started again at a slower pace. A couple more station stops and we limped along, gradually getting closer to the city. And then, just short of the Metro Park station, we stopped and – for quite a while – didn’t start.

We waited and waited while the conductors announced (repeatedly) that we were being held. An hour passed, then two. I regretted my decision not to tuck a book into my bag. The passengers grew impatient, waiting for the answers that didn’t come, then turned to anger. I sat in the first car and listened as reports filtered forward, rumors that people at the back were smoking, that fights were breaking out.

I stayed in my seat, pulled up my hood and feigned sleep. Gradually, we began to move again. Finally, we neared Newark, New Jersey. The train’s staff told us that our best bet was to get off and complete the trip to New York via the PATH train, a separate, rapid-transit railway system that transports commuters through century-old tunnels beneath the Hudson River.

We left our train, paid an additional fare to enter the PATH system, and then stood on the cold, wet platform, waiting for a train. Any train. Nothing came. No one seemed to be in charge. There was no official to provide directions or information to the hundreds of people who crowded the platform. After about 15 minutes, we heard an announcement. The platform where we stood was “closed.” We were instructed to walk upstairs, to Track H, and wait there for a train.

Finding the stairway meant leaving the platform, trailing behind furious people lugging heavy suitcases up steep, slippery stairways, and then … we were lost. We saw no signs indicating where Track H might be. Again, no one was directing us and there were no workers to ask. Weary, disoriented travelers walked up and down, through dripping passageways, while trying to avoid the aggressive beggars, clad in rags, who appeared at every turn, their hands outstretched.

One of us finally spotted a sign to Track H. Up more stairs, pay an additional fare to enter, and we found ourselves on another cold, wet platform filled with people. Again, no officials were present to provide any instructions or information. The signs didn’t give any indication of when (or if) the train would arrive, or where it would take us. It didn’t matter. We just wanted to go.

The minutes ticked by. 10. 15. 25. People continued to crowd onto the platform. Finally, a handful of policemen arrived and called out warnings, telling us not to stand too close to the edge of the platform. We ran to them, hoping for answers. When will the train come? When will we arrive in New York?

To those who surrounded the Newark police officers, asking for help and advice, there was only one reply: “I don’t know. You have to ask somebody who works for the PATH.” And where would we find such a person? “I don’t know.”

We were only about 10 miles from New York, but it might as well have been the other side of the moon. Someone asked whether we could we hire a taxi back to New York. “Well,” said one of the officers, “It would be hard to find one. And since so many people want a car, he’d probably charge you six or seven hundred dollars.” What about a bus? “Yeah,” he said, “there’s a bus. I think.” Where would we find it? “I don’t know.”

We headed back downstairs, hoping that someone could direct us to a bus. We walked through the station, around the station, back and forth, asking everyone we saw until an astute girl pointed us to a bus stop beside the building. By the time we reached it, the waiting crowd spilled across the sidewalk and into the street. Again, no one was in charge. There were no announcements, no one controlling or directing the wet, tired, frustrated travelers, no signs indicating when the next bus would arrive or where it would go.

After an interminable wait, a bus appeared and very, very slowly came towards us. When it stopped, the doors opened to reveal a police officer on board. The crowd surged forward, anxious to climb aboard, while the policeman shouted for them to refrain from pushing. Few appeared to hear him, even fewer seemed to care.

The crowd continued to scramble for position and the police officer again shouted for them to “Stop pushing!” adding a warning: “If you don’t stop pushing, I’m going to start shooting!”

A voice responded from the crowd: “Go ahead, that’s what you always do in the ‘hood!”

With dozens of people pushing from behind, it was impossible not to push forward. Try to stand still and lose your balance. Finally, the steps to the bus were almost under my feet when an unknown hand grabbed my backpack and yanked, hard. I stumbled and grabbed for the door. An old woman’s voice, commanded the person who’d grabbed my bag to “Let go, so I can get on this damn bus!” She pulled, I pulled, and the bag, still strapped to my shoulders, broke free of the grip pulling me backwards. I stepped onto the bus.

There was one empty seat remaining. I sank into it and closed my eyes, hoping that this bus was heading to New York City. When the engine rumbled and the packed vehicle moved forward, I realized why the seat I’d claimed had been unoccupied; it was located directly below a vent and dripped cold water onto my head and shoulders. No matter. I wasn’t moving.

Our route, as it turned out, was to the Port Authority Bus Station in New York via Union City, New Jersey. With the windows fogged up, the journey itself was a blur. The lights inside the bus were dim, and through the windows I saw only watery glimpses of flashing lights, cars stranded on flooded roadways, the tiled walls of a passageway I guessed to be the Lincoln Tunnel.

Perhaps the bus ride took about an hour; perhaps more. When I stepped into the warm, dry, cavernous space of the Port Authority, I felt like kissing the ground and vowing to never leave New York again. I hastened to the subway in Times Square, got the first train back to Brooklyn, and, just as the clock struck 10, I emerged in beautiful Brooklyn.

According to the New Jersey Transit Web sites, in order to contact Customer Service about a refund, I must go back to Penn Station in person while their office is open. That will be a task for another day.

View from the New Jersey Transit train

Through the train window

Inside the bus

Through the bus window

Inside the bus

The sign says we’re bound for the Port Authority

The Newark bus parked in New York City

The Times Square station looked like paradise

New Jersey Transit
PATH Trains
Port Authority Bus Terminal

Walk This Way

January 21, 2010

Two large arrows, each made of four overlapping yellowish triangles, are mounted on a corrugated metal wall at the Cypress Hills subway station in Brooklyn. The arrows seem to point towards a nearby stairway; however, there are no arrows directing riders to a similar exit at the opposite end of the platform.

The arrows have been a target for vandals

Riders follow the arrows to a staircase leading to the street

Mysteries of Manhattan: The Painted Car

November 28, 2009

It was parked at the corner of Second Avenue and 27th Street. A big old Ford LTD Crown Victoria with taped up windows, dented fenders, smashed tail lights and rusted chrome. But really, on this vehicle, who would notice a few flaws?

Thickly covered with images, objects and phrases garnered from sports, politics, pop culture and fantasy, this is a car with a message. Or, perhaps, several messages. But what is it trying to tell us? Who created it? And why did he or she decide to paint a car rather than a wall or a canvas?

I have no idea. Guess I’ll just have to categorize it as another of Manhattan’s many mysteries.

Left front corner


Right side

Gas tank cover


Religious symbols and phrases

Rear door

Driver’s side window

Broken tail light

Rear window


Rooftop collage

Flying Home: Harlem Heros and Heroines

November 9, 2009

Faith Ringgold is an award-winning artist, writer and teacher who was born and raised in New York City. In 1992, as part of the city’s Arts for Transit program, the Metropolitan Transit Authority commissioned her to create two thirty foot mosaic murals for the 125th street subway station platform — one of the busiest locations in Harlem.

The murals were inspired by a song by Lionel Hampton, Flying Home Harlem that Ringgold heard when she was a child. They depict iconic men, women and places that were influential in Harlem’s history.

“I love every one of these people,” Ringgold told the MTA. “I wanted to share those memories, to give the community – and others just passing through – a glimpse of all the wonderful people who were part of Harlem. I wanted them to realize what Harlem has produced and inspired.”

The mosaics were fabricated in a small town near Venice, Italy and installed at the stop for the 2 and 3 express in December 1996. On her Web site, Ringgold says, “When you are in New York, go to see them. And then have dinner at Sylvia’s, the famous soul food restaurant just a block away.”

Mural in the 125th Street subway station

The Harlem Opera House

Madame C.J. Walker and her College of Hair Culture

Abyssinian Baptist Church

Billie Holiday

The Ink Spots and the Apollo Theater

Marian Anderson

The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People and the National Council of Negro Women

Jesse Owens and his Olympic gold medals

Faith Ringgold
Faith Ringgold’s blog
MTA Arts for Transit: 125th Street

A tile with a smile

August 15, 2009

It was late, I was tired, and I couldn’t wait to get back to Brooklyn. The last thing I wanted to do was descend into the hot, stagnant air of the Chambers Street subway station, but down I went.

As I walked along the platform, waiting for a train, I saw something completely unexpected: a lopsided little smile, carved into a tile. Perhaps the smile was created by a mischievous worker, perhaps by a bored commuter, but either way, it brought a smile to my face and made the night a little bit brighter.

The tile

The smile

Subway.Org: Chambers Street (IRT West Side Line)

Where Every Night is New Year’s Eve

July 6, 2009

While most of us have watched the Times Square New Year’s Eve celebrations on television, joining the festivities in person can be daunting. Those who manage to attend must pass through extensive security checkpoints, stand in the cold for hours, tolerate being crushed in an enormous crowd and having no access to public restrooms.

Fortunately, there is another way to celebrate New Year’s Eve in Times Square. In fact, you can join the festivities anytime, even in the middle of summer.

A series of mosaics entitled The Revelers was installed in the Times Square subway station in 2007. Created by Jane Dickson, the work is installed in several busy underground passages. It portrays 70 life-size partygoers boisterously welcoming in the New Year with hats, noisemakers and confetti.

They make it possible to join Times Square’s New Year’s Eve festivities every day — and night — of the year.

Celebrating with the kids


Revelers meet in a corner

Kicking up their heels

Holding the baby aloft

Dressed in blue and red

A hug to bring in the year

With open arms

A kiss for luck

Tooting a horn

Arm in arm

In a green coat

Holding a hat and noisemaker

In a fancy hat and high heels

Blowing into a noisemaker

Holding a child’s hand


In a red hat

Jumping for joy

In a miniskirt

With a real kid

On piggyback

Pace University: Professor Dickson’s ‘Revelers” Bring Party Underground
Harvard Magazine: Underground Party
Frequently Asked Questions about New Year’s Eve in Times Square

A Sign With a Picture of a Doorway

March 29, 2009

Sometimes I must leave the city, and this was one of those days. I headed to Pennsylvania Station to take a train but, due to a delay on the subway, I arrived a few minutes after it departed. With nearly an hour to wait until the next train, I passed the time exploring the enormous maze of floors and passageways.

While walking through one of the lower levels, I noticed a doorway crisscrossed with yards of yellow tape ominously marked “Police Line Do Not Cross.” I stepped closer and saw two paper notices fastened on and near the tape.

The both bore the same message: a notice to Amtrak employees telling them that the entryway was closed (apparently, the yards of tape weren’t enough of an indication) and that they should use another entrance. And, in case any Amtrak employees weren’t sure what an entrance was, both notices were helpfully illustrated with photographs of doorways. A pair of uniformed Amtrak workers strolled by while I was reading the signs, and we joked about management’s assessment of their intelligence (“I guess they figured if they didn’t put up a sign, we’d just walk through the tape.”).

I unpacked my camera and began to photograph the doorway. Suddenly, my lens was dark. I looked up and saw a large, red-faced man in a dark jacket who’d placed himself between the doorway and the camera. He demanded to know why I was taking a picture.

New York, as you probably know, has no shortage of crazies. I deal with them all the time, usually simply by putting as much distance between us as quickly as possible. This fellow, however, was already close enough to touch me. I felt I’d better say something, so I asked whether he had a problem with me taking pictures. He did, he said. I told him to get over it and, wanting to avoid a confrontation even more than I wanted the photo, I quickly walked away.

A few minutes later, I heard an announcement that my train was ready for boarding. I ran down the stairway, jumped on board, settled into a seat and began to read a magazine. Suddenly, I was aware that someone was standing over me.

I looked up and saw two police officers. They told me that they’d received a report and that I fit the description of the person involved. “Were you taking pictures in the station?,” asked one of the men. Yes, I was. “Can you tell me what compelled you take pictures?,” he asked.

Compelled? I didn’t feel compelled, I explained, I just thought it would make a good picture. I thought it was funny. They asked me to describe what happened and I did. They exchanged looks, then asked why I’d left the scene rather than talk to the man who’d approached me.

A horrible thought occurred to me. “Was he a cop?,” I asked. “He didn’t identify himself as a cop.” “No, he was no cop,” said the officer. “He works for Amtrak.” I explained that I’d left because thought he was a nut. Why would I stick around to talk to an angry nut?

The policemen asked more questions: why do I take photographs? What do I do with them? Just then, one of the officers glanced down at the magazine in my hands. It was a thick, glossy issue of Art in America. “Are you an artist?,” asked the policeman. I thought a moment, and decided that even though it is not the occupation I list on my tax returns, my photos are a kind of art. “Yes,” I replied.

“An artist,” he said. He turned to his partner and repeated the words. “An artist.” They both nodded. “Oh, well, you were taking the pictures for your art,” said the policeman. “There’s nothing wrong with that.”

They told me that the man who’d blocked my view should have identified himself, but since he had called the authorities and reported me, they were obligated to follow up and investigate.

We began to discuss art, photography and Brooklyn when we heard a signal — the train was about to depart. The officers hurriedly gave me their names, shook my hand, and, repeating the words, “You didn’t do anything wrong,” stepped onto the platform just before the doors slid shut.

Thanks, NYPD. Thanks, Art in America.

The doorway

The sign on the tape

The sign beside the doorway

Art in America magazine

Art in America
The Late, Great Pennsylvania Station
New York Architecture: Penn Station
Amtrak: Penn Station

Help keep the fares fair!

March 26, 2009

Yesterday, the board of directors of the New York State Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) voted to cut transit service and increase fares.

While the politicians and the heads of the agency make their way around in chauffeured limousines, the changes, which are scheduled to go into effect on May 31, will deal a crushing blow to already-struggling New Yorkers. The changes are more than substantial; they are painful.

  • The MTA will charge $6 more for a 7-day unlimited MetroCard, $12 more for a 14-day MetroCard, and a 30-day MetroCard will jump from $81 to $103.
  • The fare on Long Island Bus, which serves Nassau County, will go from $2 to $3.50.
  • Riders on commuter trains will find their fares up by as much as 30%.
  • Those who drive won’t be spared, either: tolls will cost $1.50 more each way at the Brooklyn-Battery tunnel, Queens-Midtown tunnel and the Robert F. Kennedy Bridge (formerly the Triborough).
  • The service cuts are horrendous: five subway lines, including the entire W and Z trains, will be shortened or eliminated; 35 bus routes will be totally cut and dozens more will have less service. Bus and train waiting times and crowding will increase while hundreds of station attendants will vanish.

According to the New York Times, after the board voted, H. Dale Hemmerdinger, the chairman, said, “It’s now a fact, it’s done.”

The only remaining hope for those of us who use the system is that state legislators and the governor can be persuaded to agree on a new transit aid package in the next few weeks. Please call or e-mail elected officials and tell them that they need to come to the aid of riders while there is still time; you can find your representatives via the links below.

Message posted inside the High Street Subway Station in Brooklyn

Find New York State Elected Officials
Contact the Governor of New York State
New York Times: M.T.A. Votes to Raise Fares and Cut Service
New York Post: The Great Train Robbery
Metropolitan Transportation Authority

Give Real Change to the Homeless

February 1, 2009

New York City’s Department of Homeless Services has launched a campaign to educate the public about helping the homeless. Their message is simple: the best way to aid the homeless is by contacting the agencies designed to aid them.

Someone, reading one of the campaign’s posters in the 14th Street subway station, added a few pithy notes.

The poster

Do I look excited about a shelter? Hell no.


New York City and MTA Unveil ‘Give Real Change’ Public Education Campaign
NYC Department of Homeless Services (DHS)
NYC Action Plan to End Homelessness

It’s a Zoo in There!

December 9, 2008

Central Park has a wonderful zoo designed to teach children about wildlife and conservation. But the hours — especially during the winter — are short and the price of admission can be prohibitive.

Here’s an alternative to the zoo itself; the Fifth Avenue subway station, which is the station closest to the zoo, has brought some of the animals inside. No matter what the weather, seven days a week, 24 hours a day, you can duck underground and visit the cheerful mosaic animals created by artist Ann Schaumburger.

You can even pet these creatures. Just don’t try to feed them.

Penguin family with three babies

Penguin family with two babies

Mother and child horses

Snail family heading towards a stairway

Mommy snail

Family of butterfiles

Butterfly close-up

Monkey family

Baby monkey holding onto Mommy’s belly

Mommy and baby polar bears (click to see larger)

A flock of parrots

Parrots with purple torsos

Closer view of parrot

Central Park Zoo
Chelsea Art Galleries: Ann Schaumburger

Hi, do you wear a button?

March 24, 2008

This sign was posted at the top of a stairway inside the Clark Street subway station. I can’t help but wonder whether it worked.

Have you ever posted (or answered) an ad looking for love?


I Believe In Harvey Dent

Signs of Life in the Subway

February 5, 2008

The Metropolitan/Lorimer Street subway station features Signs of Life, a series of mosaics by Taiwan-born artist Jackie Chang. The project, completed in the year 2000, was commissioned by the New York City Metropolitan Transit Authority. It brings a much-needed touch of wit and beauty to an otherwise dingy underground section of Brooklyn.

Faith Fate
Faith – Fate

Same Sane
Same – Sane

History Your Story
History: Your Story

Use Less
Use Less

MTA: Permanent Art
Dephography: Jackie Chang
NYC Subway: Artwork
Art in Context: Jackie Chang

I ♥ Anderson Cooper

August 15, 2007

The graffiti about the popular newscaster was written on a construction wall near the entrance to the 66th Street-Lincoln Center subway station.

I felt a bit guilty asking the elderly man who was leaning against it to move so that I could take a photo, but he readily obliged. As he slowly moved past me, the fellow grinned, leaned over conspiratorially and whispered, “If what I’ve heard about him is true, that might have been written by a man.”

“If what I’ve heard about him is true,” I responded, “it might have been written by his mother.”

Entrance to 66th Street-Lincoln Center station

I ♥ Anderson Cooper

CNN: Anderson Cooper
Anderson Cooper 360°
Anderson Cooper 360° Blog
Wikipedia: Gloria Vanderbilt
Gloria Vanderbilt

A Midsummer Day’s Mess, A Midsummer Night’s Dream

August 8, 2007

Early today, while most of the city was still asleep, Brooklyn was hit by a tornado.

The storm was the most powerful to strike the borough since the National Weather Service began keeping reliable records. With wind speeds reaching 135 mph, the tornado tore through Bay Ridge and Sunset Park, downing power lines, ripping up trees, shattering windows, tearing roofs from buildings and crushing trucks and cars.

The storm dumped three inches of rain on the city in just about an hour, overwhelming the sewer system, flooding streets, tunnels and subways and disabling the subways, trains and busses.

As hundreds of thousands of people tried to go to work, a spokesman for the Transit Authority, interviewed on a local television station, said, “The entire subway system is virtually shut down. If you can stay home, do it.” Unfortunately, the people who most needed to hear that messsage were already en route. Outraged commuters were stranded, the transit authority’s Web site crashed and chaos ensued.

Fortunately, the worst of the tornado’s ferocity bypassed my neighborhood and by the end of the day, most of the city’s transportation system was running with limited service. It was definitely time for something light and entertaining.


Shakespeare in the Park is a longstanding, beloved tradition in New York City. More than 50 years ago, Joseph Papp (who was subsequently accused of un-American activities), began to stage free productions of Shakespeare’s plays in at the Delacorte Theatre in Central Park.

Today, the shows are still free, but entrance to the famed open-air theater comes at a price.

Approximately 1,500 seats are available for each performance. Tickets are distributed on the day of the show on a first-come, first-served basis and limited to two per person. It is not unusual for people to camp out in the park overnight in order to obtain a pair, a feat that has been described by the New York Times as an “endurance test” requiring determination, patience and fortitude.

All tickets are for reserved seats and are non-exchangeable. If a performance is rained out, the ticketholder is simply out of luck. The well-heeled, of course, avoid the long queues by either hiring others to wait for them (the going rate is about $100) or by donating money to Shakespeare in the Park (a $150 donation earns one reserved seat).

When a friend offered me the opportunity to attend a run-through of A Midsummer Night’s Dream (the show will officially open on August 23), I headed straight for the soggy subways.

Thanks to the storm, it took me about two hours longer than usual to reach Central Park, but it was well worth the trip. Those who braved the muddy fields and branch-strewn paths were transported from the chaotic, storm-torn city and treated to a calm, clear night, a first-rate company and more than a little much-needed magic on a midsummer night.

If we shadows have offended,
Think but this, and all is mended,
That you have but slumbered here
While these visions did appear.
— A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Act V, Scene 2


Daily News: Brooklyn becomes Tornado Alley!
Newsday: Tornado, storm wreaks havoc in NYC
Gothamist: Wild Wednesday Weather
NY Times: Free Theater, But the Lines? Unspeakable
NY Times: It’s Free Theater, but With a Price
A Midsummer Night’s Dream
Public Theatre: Shakespeare in the Park
Public Theatre: A Midsummer Night’s Dream
Central Park Conservancy: Delacorte Theater Delacorte Theater
NYC Department of Parks & Recreation: Central Park

Making a Magic Bus

July 7, 2007

Give me a hundred
I won’t take under
Goes like thunder
It’s a bus-age wonder
Magic bus, magic bus, magic bus, magic bus
I want it, I want it, I want it 

— Pete Townshend, Magic Bus, 1968

Today, down by the South Brooklyn waterfront, I stumbled across a group of artists gathered in the street to paint a bus.

Armed with cans of spray paint and stencils, quenched by glasses of wine and cans of Red Bull, energized by the bright sunlight and the music of the Doors, they channelled the spirit of the 1960s and transformed a rather plain green vehicle into a thoroughly magic bus.

The Bus on Union Street
The Bus on Union Street

Paint cans on the table
Wine glasses and paint cans on the table

Stencil on the sidewalk
Stencil on the sidewalk

The crew at work
The crew at work

Working with white paint
Working with white paint

Section around window
Section around window

Trunk with Mr. T
Trunk with Mr. T

Reflector and skull
Reflector and skull

Village Voice: Columbia Street Waterfront District
Mendoza Auto Sales and Auto Repair
Brooklyn 1863 Draft
Red Bull
The Doors Magic Bus

Discouraging Signs in the Subway

June 24, 2007

With 6,200 cars, 840 miles of track and an average weekday ridership of 4.9 million, New York City has one of the largest, busiest and most complex subway systems in the world.

Unlike the systems in many other cities, New York’s subways operate 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year. That means all service and repairs must take place while the trains are running.

In an attempt to cause the least disruption to riders, most planned maintenance and construction work (as opposed to emergency service) is scheduled for weekends. As a result, getting around the city on Saturdays and Sundays can be challenging for even the most savvy New Yorkers.

The Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) says that they issue service advisories to “provide information about planned service changes on weekends that are needed for their Capital Plan work such as construction projects.”

Many city dwellers try to stay informed about temporary service changes and interruptions by checking the MTA’s Web site, subscribing to special e-mail and text message alert services (such as those offered by HopStop and the Straphangers Campaign), and/or following local newspaper and television reports for updates on the latest service advisories.

Any of those approaches is more effective than just showing up in a subway station and hoping to locate and make sense of the printed advisories that are posted every weekend.

Today every station I entered had at least a few advisory signs taped to the walls, but these were the most discouraging, disheartening and headache-inducing of the bunch.

Service interruptions at Times Square station
Today’s Service Advisories posted in the Times Square station

Sign in Pelham Bay Park station
Sign in the Pelham Bay Park station

Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA)
MTA Service Advisories
MTA Guide to Weekend Travel in Lower Manhattan
MTA Subway Facts and Figures
New York Public Interest Research Group Straphangers Campaign
Transportation Alternatives
Tri-State Transportation Campaign
HopStop New York

Mysteries of Manhattan: The MetroCard Bicycle

June 16, 2007

This bike was leaning against a signpost near Union Square Park.

Nearly every surface — spokes, handlebars, posts, fenders, basket — has been decorated with discarded MetroCards (bus and subway tickets). If you look closely, you’ll see that there is even a chain made of MetroCards.

Who? When? Why? I have no idea. Just another mystery of Manhattan.

The bicycle near Union Square Park
The bicycle near Union Square Park

The bicycle from the right
The bicycle as seen from the right

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