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Thursday, September 18, 2008

Rush Hour on the New York Subway

You've had a bit of a rose-tinted "tourist" view of the subway from me so far, well apart from the
Panther / Sloth guy and his mate, but yesterday I used it for the first time in the rush hour.

That's where it was much more similar to the London Underground. It was really crowded, really hot, rushed, people were scowling and grumbling at others with luggage on the escalators. You couldn't really stand around like a dork looking at maps or taking pictures of buskers without get bumped into from behind. Fortunately when I managed to get onto a train, there was a kind of quiet stillness & relief that you were going somewhere and not caught up in the melee of the platform transfers.

Busker in the Rush Hour - New York subway

I found myself staring at the woman with the worry beads below, as her calming influence was transferring over to me, and I started to feel a bit less hot & bothered.

Worry Beads on New York Subway Busy Rush Hour Train - New York Subway

It didn't last too long though as I made my way to another interchange and joined yet another slow moving, long and narrow queue for the escalators

Rush Hour Commuters - New York Subway

However, it was all quite orderly & it's not just us Brits who queue well for things. We might be professional queue'ers but the Manhattanites would give us a run for our money. They only got really impatient with people carrying massive luggage and according the rules below, it's actually an "offence to carry bulky items likely to cause inconvenience or a hazard to yourself and others".

New York Subway Rules


New York subway drivers all seem to wear ear protectors to protect them from the noise down there. Maybe just seeing them wearing them, made me think that that their trains appeared much noiser than our Tubes, although as yet, I've not seen any commuters with the massive noise cancelling headphones on that are quite common in London.

New York Subway Commuters New York Subway Driver

Coming home was much calmer and I felt a bit like the sleeping dog in the bag below, wishing that someone would carry me.

Sleepy Dog in New York Subway

Almost by accident though I saw some amazing sculptures on the platform at 14th Street. I just happened to move a little further down and out of the corner of my eye saw some bronze little figures on the platform floor

Alligator eating Money Sculpture 14th Street - New York Subway

Money Sculptures 14th Street at New York Subway

There were a whole range of them and they were featured little money characters, either being eaten by alligators coming out of New York's sewer or they just hung around watching the trains.

There were some more great mosaics around with a watery theme with quotes from James Joyce, Ovid and err... Mother Goose

Nature Must Not Win This Game - New York Subway

Watery Mosaic - New York Subway

Finally, I was pleasantly surprised by the amount of night time work that was going on around travellers. The air reeked of bleach & cleaning fluids and there was was loads of spraying, scrubbing and general tidying up at about 11.45pm

Night Time Contractors on New York Subway Phone on Time Square Subway Station

The photo on the right shows a woman at a public pay phone, which was also quite novel as in London public pay phones at platform level seemed to have disappeared years ago, well at least I don't remember having seen one underground for ages.

There a more pictures of the sculptures, mosaics and other commuters on my set from Day 5 on in New York and some pictures of the Statue of Liberty, Rockefeller Center, Staten Island Ferry and Greenwich Village in my set from Days 3/4 in New York.

New York Subway stuff - Museum of Modern Art, New York

I'm going to try to pop into their Transport Museum over the next few days as there were some cool NYC Subway badges and bags in the Museum of Modern Art shop. But I imagine there will be a larger selection in the Transport Museum itself. Now it's time for some lunch with the UK Digital Mission guys & gals at the Web 2.0 Expo which I'm visiting while I'm here.


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