The New York City subway system is a mysterious beast, full of mystery, secrets, and delights.
The people using it seem to know it as well, looking into the dark tunnels for their next train, some no doubt wondering about what lies inside, if the stories are true, never giving it too much thought. However, plenty of stories do exist that back up the thoughts.
Subway mosaics with fancy lettering exist throughout various stations, the City College and Columbia University stop even having a rivalry, pulling out all the stops to make the stops pretty, according to Philip Ashforth Coppola’s book on the subway. The beaver at the Astor Place station as a tribute to John Jacob Astor… which is nothing compared to the rumors it is reportedly haunted. Other places that could be haunted? Stations built and never used, such as Williamsburg’s South 4th Street station.
Aside from details and flourishes that people pass by daily, the subway has plenty of history to look back on. From the graffiti-laden subway cars that were once painted all white to the Nostalgia Train Rides implemented by the MTA every year. From the almost interminable construction that goes on, with the longest operation being the 2nd Avenue line, technically being worked on since 1920.
The irony of this rich history is that new subway lines have hardly been developed since 1940. The high cost of construction has skyrocketed since the 1980’s according to research, compounding the problems present with the subway budget crisis on top of the difficulty with labor relations. The thought that so much exists and was put into place in a relatively short amount of time is wondrous when considering there are 469 subway stops in operation.
As far as the world knows, the subways are relatively safe now, a far cry from the vigilante groups who used to roam the subways to protect riders, the most famous one being the Guardian Angels. Considering the 4 train was called the Mugger’s Express one bit, the strategies implemented seem to have work, therefore don’t be afraid, get on the trains and see for yourself, as commuters gloss over a multitude of historical artifacts every day while riding daily. Get out there and see for yourself!