Nord-Sud Paris Metro Line 12-Solferino Wooden Bench

While most of Paris’ subway stations have been modernized with plastic “anti-homeless” chairs that replaced former wooden benches, you can still get a glimpse of the old Paris metro on line 12 and part of line 13. These lines were built by the Nord-Sud Company starting in 1904 and had more elaborate decoration and rolling stock than the other lines.


 speed theatrical trailer-numbers on roofs of buses-untapped cities-cities 101Runaway bus scene from the 1994 movie Speed. What are those numbers for? (Screenshot from Speed trailer, 20th Century Fox)

In the movie Speed (1994), Keanu Reaves parades through Los Angeles on a public bus rigged with a bomb. In the ensuing police chase, the bus’ rooftop decal showed the numbers 2525, making it easy for helicopter crews to track from above and inform ground police forces. This is one important, albeit uncommon, use for the rooftop numbers on the buses. Away from the silver screen, the numbers are a much more practical necessity for the everyday transit worker. Still, not all buses carry the numbers on top. Here we’ve tried to get to the bottom (or top?) of this. (more…)

nyc subway map-all subway bathrooms-youtube-affixion96-untapped cities-02
This map put together by Eron Watt in his YouTube video shows the 48 subway bathrooms he visited from 2009-2014. 

We have already Untapped the mystery of some public bathrooms in New York City, but we’re still curious about the ones you can find in many subway stations. Out of NYC’s 468 subway stations, only 129 of them claim to have restrooms. With the help of YouTube user Eron Watt, we’ve verified that only 48 of these lavatories were unlocked. The rest of these appear to be locked, repurposed for storage, or converted into convenient newsstands like the one shown below. Here’s the dirty low-down on what awaits you behind the few unlocked doors of subway bathrooms.


atlantic avenue tunnel-brooklyn-cobble hill-bob diamond-bhra-untapped cities-nyc-lirr-01Photo from inside the now defunct Atlantic Avenue Tunnel. (Image via BHRA by J. Blakeslee)

Back in 1844 when the Atlantic Avenue Tunnel was built, the City of Brooklyn was not one of the five boroughs. For the commuters of the Brooklyn and Jamaica Railroad, better known today as the LIRR, the Cobble Hill Tunnel was meant to reduce the congestion caused by a street-level train. In 1980, about 120 years since the City of Brooklyn had banned steam locomotives within city limits, ending the use of the tunnel, Bob Diamond stumbled upon the hidden underground gem. From 1980, he gave tours of the half-mile span to interested gawkers only to have his permit mysteriously taken away by the city in 2010. (more…)

Recently, we decided to call the phone numbers on the doors in the New York City subway and the result was…pretty funny. But, there were a lot more doors we’ve been taking photos of over the past few months. Have you ever wondered what the scrubber room is? What Third Rail Operations is? Here’s a look at all the funny shapes, sizes and signs on the doors within the subway system.

The Scrubber Room


UntappedCities_MTASubwayArtCardsThe 2014 MTA Art Cards installed on an E train. Shown: “Robots” by artist Susan Farrington

In addition to the polar vortex, January was the month for the installation of three new art posters in the subway as part of the MTA Arts for Transit and Urban Design, a program that has been going on for well over thirteen years.

The New York City subways are known for many things, and at Untapped Cities, we’ve been showing you all the art you can see on your daily commute today and what you’ll see in the future on the Second Avenue Subway. Each weekday over five and a half million people ride the subway, and that’s a whole lot of eyeballs looking for a place to alight.