The Vanishing Subway Token Booths

The combined forces of technology and recession on subway station agent booths.

8th Street N station

Technology has a way of making jobs obsolete. But so does recession. And when the subway station agents (those in the burgundy vest, ready or not to help you) started getting laid off, so their subway booths became abandoned, becoming something of a time capsule. Sometimes you could see leftover food inside. Metrocards started piling up as people discarded them through the small slits in the window. On 66th Street at Lincoln Center, one day they were doing asbestos treatment, the next day the asbestos warning signs were gone. Anything worth anything was ripped out from the booth’s infrastructure. The final nock on the door came when they started to get dismantled. And now, what remains is the outline of what once was. Here is a photo essay on some of the subway booths we’ve come across. Submit yours to our Flickr group.

157th Street stop on the 1 train in Washington Heights

Inside the booth at 157th Street

66th Street stop on the 1 train at Lincoln Center, before asbestos treatment

Notification at 66th Street

Closeup on the booth at 66th Street

Inside the 66th Street station booth, most things have been ripped out. Today it’s been wooden boards and much or all have been dismantled.

Deconstruction in the Union Square station

The hands of the NYC transit authority at work

Inside the Penn Station booth

Left over McDonalds sweet and sour sauce inside the Penn Station booth

Lincoln Center booth, post-asbestos treatment

And when I caught the MTA desconstructing the booth at Lincoln Center, what was left was Metrocards strewn all over the floor, a technology that will also be phased out at some point in the near future.

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4 Responses
    • michelle young Reply

      Yes, there wasn’t even an announcement about it. Just started happening!

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