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Tar-Mastic-NYC Subway-Waterproofing-Sealing-Melting-Drip-Columbus Circle-Subway Station-NYC

Every time we go through Columbus Circle subway station, we wonder about those big patches of black tar-like substance that just keep growing on the subway platforms. Last year, when there wasn’t quite as much, and we thought in passing it might be just a really popular place to throw gum. But this time, the more we poked around the more we saw that the stuff was just all over the place. And, some of it was fresh! Looking up, we could see it dripping from the beams.

Digging into it, lo and behold, Slate dug into this bizarre issue back in May. Turns out it is indeed tar or rather, mastic, as Branko Kleva, assistant chief of the Division of Stations explains. The MTA uses mastic to seal up and waterproof subway infrastructure but when it gets hot, the stuff starts dripping down. Incidentally, tar was also used to black out the beautiful skylights of the now-decommissioned City Hall Subway Station during WWII. 

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Abandoned Platform-Level-Times Square-Port Authority-A-C-E-Aqueduct Racetrack Line-LIRR-8Image by Peter Dougherty via NYCSubway.org

We’ve mentioned the abandoned level below Times Square before in our piece about abandoned subway levels and platforms in New York City. But this is the first time we’re featuring some images of what it looked like when it was operating and after some years of abandonment.

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The Warriors-NYC-Untapped Cities-BAM-Retro Metro-BrooklynThe Warriors (Film Still via The Symmetric)

Stepping into a train car in New York City can do more than just get you to your destination, it can serve as a way for you to see how the identity of the city is transforming before your very eyes. We all know that NYC has been the inspiration for many great works of cinema and through these snapshots in time, we are able to see how the city has evolved. From street cars to graffiti canvases, the NYC subway has a long history, one that has been captured on film for many decades.

From September 26th to October 5th, you can personally see how the NYC subway system has evolved by checking out the newest film series by BAM titled Retro Metro. 16 films, each showcasing a different era of the NYC subway will be shown. The line up includes cult films from the 70’s like The Warriors and the The Taking of Pelham 123. As well as films like Style Wars, Wild Style and Beat Street; tributes to the graffiti and street art culture that began in the 80s.  (more…)

The New York City subway carries many secrets, like any extensive system that was built over time. But the NYC subway also comes with it quite a bit of lore–from its urban explorers who have explored every nook of its vastness, the technological feat it was to build in some of the toughest Manhattan schist, and its evolution from high-class experiment to mass ridership.

No list of subway secrets can be complete, so we see this article as an evolving entity. We’ve started with our favorite secrets but encourage you all to comment and Tweet at us (@untappedcities) with other hidden gems. Special thanks to Matt Litwack, author of Beneath the Streets: The Hidden Relics of New York’s Subway System for contributing his finds to this piece.

1. The Many Abandoned Levels and Platforms of the NYC Subway System

Disused platform and subway entrance at Chamber Street

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repeated-street-names-nyc-broadway-park-ave-st-marks-place-untappedcities-nick-reale-9Image Source: Flickr user Pete Bellis

Several street names are repeated throughout NYC–sometimes more than twice. Why is this? New York has amassed its size through the annexation of smaller towns, the streets of which were laid out and named in similar ways to those on Manhattan. In some cases, the names were intentionally repeated for clarity’s sake, even if that doesn’t quite make sense today. We decided to round up all these confusing repetitions in the hopes that taking Rockaway Parkway to Rockaway Boulevard to Rockaway Point Boulevard on the way to Rockaway Freeway will be less confusing when all you wanted was a nice day at the beach. (more…)

Look-State of Subways-NYC

With much speculation and hype, the State of the Subways Report Card is the NYC transit equivalent of the State of the Union Address–with the former evoking just as much backlash in opinions from people with conviction as the latter. Nonetheless, the Straphangers Campaign has released their Summer 2014 version of the report card, complete with a mixed bag of surprises and ratings that challenge users’ preconceived notions of certain services. The big one this year: the 7 train tops the list of 19 services, while the C has moved on up from its nearly guaranteed position at the bottom of the barrel to the glorious rank of 18.

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