Subways are probably the number one target of complaint for New Yorkers. Apparently we haven’t lived here long enough to develop the aversion, rather we continue to be fascinated by a system, that is able to move so many people and which is easily accessible from almost anywhere in Manhattan.
Although there are frequent (warranted) complaints, the subways provide relatively cheap transportation throughout the boroughs, and they are filled with stories and hidden treasures.
Our fascination has driven frequent research when we discover something unusual in a station. Recently we joined up with a tour group to piece together the fragments of our research.
We thought we would share some of our favorite tidbits. Play along and see how many of these you already know…
1. How many people ride the NYC subway each year?
1.7Billion. That is the equivalent of more that 5 rides per person in the U.S.
2. Which station is adorned with small brass statues, mostly of little fat guys carrying coins?
The 14th st/8th Ave station. These statues were commissioned by the city in the 90s for $200,000, and are part of a permanent installation titled Underground Life. The artist is Tom Otterness, who has other installations around the city.
3. This grand station was built with extravagant grandeur to showcase modern travel, only to be decommissioned 40 yrs later. What station is it, and why was it closed?
The City Hall station sits at the foot of the Brooklyn Bridge and was originally built to impress. This beautiful station was built with roman brick walls, leaded glass windows, brass chandeliers and vaulted arches. The station, completed in 1904 was decommissioned in 1945 as trains became longer and were no longer able to negotiate the tightly curved track. Although the station is closed you can see remnants while riding the 6 train where it terminates near city hall.
4. What hotel had a private entrance to a busy station?
The Knickerbocker. This grand hotel offered a special convenience to their guests, with the door opening into the 42nd street station. The hotel closed after the death of John Astor on the Titanic. The door is still marked, but sealed.
5. Many subway stations are adorned with ceramic reliefs designating the station. Why were beavers chosen as the identifying mark for this station?
Astor Place station on the green line is home for these beavers. They are intended to represent beaver pelts that made John Astor wealthy.
6. What Major Sports team name is related to the MTA?
Around 1891, the Brooklyn Rapid Transit moved from using horse drawn trolleys to fast moving electric powered trolley cars. As such, pedestrians hadn’t learned the habit of looking both ways when crossing the street. If you stepped out in front of a horse, the horse would typically just stop in its tracks. An electric trolley car, however, would not. In 1893, fifty-three pedestrians were killed by the trolleys. Soon, newspaper sports writers dubbed the Brooklyn base ball team, the Trolley Dodgers. The name stuck and became official in 1933.
7. What does the double B on this ceramic relief represent?
If you guessed Brooklyn Bridge, you are close, but incorrect. Here is the Brooklyn Bridge representation…
The double B was the emblem is found under City Hall near the original station. It was the logo used by Brooklyn Rapid Transit that ran some of the NYC Transit lines from 1896-1923. The IRT operated competing lines. In 1940 the city took control of the lines which were experiencing financial difficulty.
8. Do rats REALLY live in the subway?
Of Course they do!
So how many did you know? Hoping this was fun and informative!
Safe travels – “Please stand clear of the closing doors!”