Planes Trains and Automobiles

J. P. Morgan Jr. rides the subway and is accosted by a hat

Any of you who ride the 4-5-6 train in rush hour will especially relate to this story.  It takes place, in fact, on that very line, one hundred years ago. Will B. Johnstone, an artist at the New York Evening World, noticed an interesting sight on his subway ride that morning, February 1, 1913, the… Read More

Nasty Nor’easter: Horses, balloons suffer in strange storms

The illustration above overemphasizes the appeal of the windblown look. (Courtesy NYPL)  We really, really don’t need a Nor’easter right now. No, really. But unfortunately it is that time of year, when the northeast United States and eastern Canada are whacked with gale force winds and bitter cold, a wet and chilling blast that can… Read More

New York transit system stymied by women’s skirt styles

A lady in a relatively normal skirt boards a Broadway streetcar in July 1913. Now imagine trying this in a hobble skirt! (Courtesy Library of Congress) A serious cry (mostly from men) rang out through the city one hundred years ago about the ever-expanding transit system and the scandalous style of women’s skirts. Were frocks… Read More

‘Staten Island Has Many Charms Worthy Of Consideration’: Ten ways to sell a borough (and a proposed subway) in 1912

The sky’s the limit: Staten Island from the vantage of a hot air balloon, August 1906. (Courtesy LOC)“God might have made a more beautiful place than Staten Island, but He never did.” — George William Curtis If you’ve ever been slightly bemused by the newspaper profiles of trendy neighborhoods, presented as though the reporters were… Read More

Those Were The Days

2012! Will this be the year New York gets moving sidewalks?

Have you ever walked down a New York sidewalk and thought, “I’m wasting so much energy creating my own forward motion. Why can’t the sidewalk do some of the work?” In one vision of the future, city sidewalks operated as a conveyor belt, whisking people to their destination in a steady stream of moving seats.… Read More

Podcasts Uncategorized

The wild times of the subway graffiti era 1970-1989

The BMT Jamaica line, late 1970s (Courtesy NYT) PODCAST #111 Art. Vandalism. Freedom. Blight. Creativity. Crime. Graffiti has divided New Yorkers since it first appeared on walls, signs and lampposts in the late 1960s. Its ascent paralleled the city’s sunken financial fortunes, allowing simple markings to evolve into elaborate pieces of art. The only problem?… Read More

The History of New York Public Transportation: Recap

Just because it’s underground, doesn’t mean you shouldn’t dress up. It is train travel, after all. (June 1959, photographer Stan Wayman, courtesy Life Google images) Thanks for listening in on our several-part series of podcasts on the history of New York City public transportation. We’re moving on to other topics — although I’m not quite… Read More

A History of Subway Cinema: From musical daydreams to gritty roller-skating gangs and underground alien bugs

Above: ‘Dames’ on a Train: Keeler and Powell dream of the innocent days The subway doesn’t immediately come to mind as a photogenic movie star, but in fact, the various tunnels and stations of the New York City Subway have appeared as the backdrop for hundreds of movies. Its route diversity — from deep under… Read More

History in the Making: Psychedelic Tunnels Edition

Best unlaid plans: (Above) The aborted additions to the New York City subway system, illustrated on the coolest subway map ever, from 1968. [Map from Second Avenue Sagas] Exploring, with old maps: The remains of old trolley tracks, the home of Louis Armstrong, and the memories of old North Beach amusement park. [Forgotten New York]… Read More


Modern history of the New York City Subway: Expansion from the 1,2,3, the A, B, C, Second Avenue and beyond

The subway in 1951, a bevy of new lines thanks to the unification of the IRT, the BMT and the IND, a consolidation we live with today. (Pic courtesy of NYC Subway) PODCAST The amazing New York City subway system travels hundreds of miles under the earth and elevated through the boroughs. In this episode,… Read More

Brooklyn’s subway origins, at an insane intersection

The first subway into Brooklyn — not a product of Brooklyn Rapid Transit (BRT), but of an extension of the original Interborough Rapid Transit (IRT) — terminated at what is today the Atlantic Avenue-Pacific Street Station, at the crossroads of several streets and a hub for the Long Island Railroad and a station for the… Read More

What famous person did you see on the subway today?

Behold, Meryl Streep on the subway, August 1981 Streep lived in SoHo at the time this picture was taken. Perhaps she was on her way to do a little promo work for ‘The French Lieutenant’s Woman’, which hit theaters in September? Streep has aged gracefully. The subway? Needed a whole lotta work done…. Oh, and… Read More


The New York City Subway and the creation of the IRT

PODCAST In the fourth part of our transportation series BOWERY BOYS ON THE GO, we finally take a look at the birth of the New York City subway. After decades of outright avoiding underground transit as a legitimate option, the city got on track with the help of August Belmont and the newly formed Interborough… Read More

Before it begins: Emptiness underground, part 3

Two forlorn shots of the IRT’s 28th Street Station, utterly untouched by throngs, 1904. One hundred and six years later, hundreds boarding the 4 and 6 trains would enter here. Photos courtesy LOC

Back of the train: New York City Subway 1905

I’m pretty sure I’ve posted this video before, but as a preparation for tomorrow’s new podcast, I thought it was worth another look. A rather tranquil look down the subway tunnels, 105 years ago…. June 5, 1905: the Interborough Rapid Transit line from 14th Street to 42nd Street, not yet in operation a year.