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Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Uptown, Downtown on New York Metro

After my 3rd full day in New York, I think I'm beginning to get the hang of the subway now. As some of you have said in the
comments on my previous post, you thought that I'd be able to find it easy after the London Underground.

"One of my friends told me she wished she's been on the Tube before she first tried to deal with the NYC subway, because the Tube made so much more sense to her, and when she next went to New York, the logic seemed to transfer over and make it easier for her to figure out how to get around. Which is a long way of saying I'm not surprised you're having such an easy time getting around." said alto2.

Greg said "The subway there isn't so scary, especially for someone from London!"

It's not been entirely easy or unscary though. Specially my first time of using it in the evening on Sunday night. I travelled "downtown" from Grand Central to Greenwich Village and that meant having to get the S or the shuttle from Grand Central to Times Square or 42nd.

Line 7 signage New York Metro
This looks like something out of Dr Who

Taking the S to get to Times Square might have been faster than taking Line 7, but that's were encountered my first scary moment. The carriage was pretty full and the train seem to sit for an age at Grand Central before moving off the one stop. It was about 8pm and a couple of guys got on who were clearly on something - not sure if it was booze or drugs.

One of them loudly made his through people to get to an empty seat at my end of the carriage. With much "F**k you, mother f**ka" and "Get your ass up here" to his mate. He slouched in the corner and was at that partial "I'm passed out" and partial "I can take you on if you challenge me" stage.

His friend eventually made it down to the carriage but first gave some rather surly advice to a woman who had her bike on the train. "Hey lady, you're blocking the passageway here. Can't you move that thing?". She sort of managed to move it, with an almost inaudible apology & he wound his way through people, all the time being loudly "encouraged" down by his half panther - half sloth mate.

I did the London thing of keeping my head down & not trying to stare at Panther Sloth guy who was only a seat away from me. All the other locals had a similar idea. The general light mutterings of conversation virtually stopped and you could sense that we all felt that something might kick off if someone did the wrong thing. Whatever the wrong thing here might have been.

That's the thing about public transport in a strange city, you don't really know what the unspoken rules & etiquette are. You might be able to understand the maps and the insistence on having two names for most stations (Times Square 42nd Street - 66th Street Lincoln Center - Christopher St Sheridan Sq - we don't do that in London!), but you also need to know the "rules".

Boarding Train at New Rochelle
There are Rules to this Game - seen at New Rochelle Station

After what seemed like an eternity waiting at Grand Central - with more "Mother f**ka's" and "Why don't you get up and let this pretty lady sit down?", directed his mate about a young woman standing next to me, there was a collective sigh of relief when the train finally decided to move.

Mosaic at 42nd Street Metro Station

Earlier that same day I had got Line 7 or the purple line or whatever it's called in New York to Times Square 42nd Street and at the interchange there saw some fab mosaics paying tribute to the industries there.

We actually have a very badly lit version of our tribute to Leytonstone's best known director in the East End of London. There's a little known series of 17 mosaics which honour Alfred Hitchcock who was born there.

Hitchcock Leytonstone London Underground Mosaics - from ticket hall

Hitchcock Leytonstone London Underground Mosaics - Hitch  & Dietrich

The ones at Times Square were equally as detailed & colourful, but as with London, most people rushed by them, even in the daytime & hardly seemed to notice them

Mosaics at 42nd Street Subway Station

Mosaic at 42nd Street Subway Station Close up

Overground architecture seems to get a snapped a lot more in New York, just as tourist spots above ground in London do. But at least these mosaics in New York had some lights thrown on them.

There were also some stunning Klimt like golden mosaics at 66th Street Lincoln Center

Mosaic at 66th Street Metro Station

I've mentioned in the previous post how clean the carriages on the Metro appear (admittedly there are still mice / rats on the tracks scuttling around the pools of dirty water), so the cleaners don't seem to have as much work to do as in London.

Metro Cleaner

This woman came on my carriage, had a quick look round, and like the Fonz from Happy Days looking in the mirror, must have thought "Heeeey, nothing needs doing", and went on her way.

If Heroes ads have taken over Grand Central - well at the least the Metro North Railroad side - Showtime & Dexter ads were all over the Broadway side of the Metro.

Dexter Ads in New York Subway Showtime Ads on New York Metro

It was quite a shock to see UK faces like Billie Piper from Secret Diary of a Call Girl & Jonathan Rhys Myers from The Tudors sharing space with David Duchovny & Michael C Hall. Also a nice reminder that some bloggers can make the "big time" (specially when they write about sex). My blog was highly commended in the Guardian's Blog Awards 2003 the same year that Belle de Jour won her award for best written blog. Look her now, she has two successful TV series & a book based on her blog and I, well ... err ... I'm sitting in a hotel room in a New York suburb blogging about her.

There's more pictures on the Metro & train journey into town from my 2nd full day in New York on Flickr.

"Trust Me I'm Irish" at New Rochelle Bike Rentals round Central Park

The set includes my day in Central Park & some New York pigeon shots for Brian Pigeon my favourite pigeon blogger back home in London. You might want to check out Brian's theories of the Circle Line being London's very own Large Hadron Collider - you can now see where the term "bird brained" comes from.


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