Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Subway photography

From time to time I take pictures inside subway stations. How can I not? They are an integral part of my New York life. What I hear is often more interesting than what I see, but only once have I recorded a conversation, on my phone. Two old white jailbirds discussing the various perks and hazards inside area prisons. I don't know what I thought I would do with the recording. Their idiom and accent riveted me, as well as the absolute lack of self consciousness about their subject. And the fact that, on the subway, you can ride peacefully beside two career criminals.

Then again, we've been riding beside bankers for years, haven't we? Same but different.

As many New Yorkers will know, photographing trains and subways has become a touchy affair. It bears reminding people that it is legal. There is no ban on subway photography.

This article in today's Times recaps some of the absurdities of the endeavour.

Above, the station where the little girl chased the departing train, as it carried her mother away from her.

This is a cool guy. Why? Because this car on the 3 train I took to the BBG last week was air conditioned. So what, you say: It's July, the temperature above ground is nearly 100'F, and on the platform it's got to be well over. Of course it is air conditioned.

You'd think. But this is the car I'd stepped into initially, expecting a grateful blast of iciness. But leaning back into my nice bucket seat a sense of intense warmth pervaded my clammy body, fresh from the stifling platform.


I touched the seat back beside me. Hot. Then the next one over. The one across the aisle.


Winter heating was on full blast. I swapped cars at the next station.

What's the hottest station in New York? At the moment I vote for Herald Square, at 34th Street. We spent half an hour in its bowels in the wee hours of Sunday morning in our wedding finery waiting for the F home to Brooklyn. Sweat ran in rivers down me, and I was wearing a strapless dress. The poor Frenchie was in long pants and sleeves, with draped jacket over wilting arm.

(Yes, Knithound, we took a car service to the wedding: $32 with tip and worth it, but we decided to be troopers on the way home)


  1. Exactly how we would have played it. To and from.

    And oh by the way, how crazy is this weather that it's like 90 degrees at midnight??

  2. I think you are right that the 34th street F platform is the hottest! And stinkiest!

  3. I may vote for 2nd avenue F or is it Broad/Lafayette? No, 2nd. God they're all effin hot. I think just to make us feel cool when we step out onto the street!

    Back in the 80s, and certainly prior, air conditioning wasn't the norm, intermittent at best. Nothing like the graffiti covered car, lights going on and off, no ac, in the dark with rush hour bodies stuffed in- thats a why people a driva! Thats all they can remember.

  4. West 4th St on the lower level is pretty balmy with its airless and sauna-like conditions.

  5. very nice overview of subterranean NYC life.


Comments are moderated (for spam control) on posts older than 48 hours. Yours will be seen!