The original City Hall subway station in New York City
By reading first-hand accounts of opening day of the New York City subway, October 27, 1904, you get a picture of the excitement, madness, and sheer feat the construction of the underground system was. The first subway line, the Interborough Rapid Transit, ran from the glorious City Hall subway station (now decommissioned) to 145th Street, proclaiming “City Hall to Harlem in 15 minutes,” though as you’ll discover, even the first day wasn’t without delaeys.
A vacuum car, also called a “Vaktrak.” Courtesy of Ishaan Dalal.
If you sometimes feel like the tracks on some subway stations in New York City are straight up gross, there seems to be a reason for that. Although the MTA’s goal is to clean the tracks every three weeks, a recent report from the New York City’s comptroller’s department discovered that some stations were only cleaned once in the last 12 months. That means the fun vacuum train (also known as the Vaktrak) is quite as rare of a sighting as we thought it was. On the other hand, rats might serve a rather useful purpose after all.
Photo by Nick Reale for Untapped Cities
It’s summer and New Yorkers know what that means: riding the subway can be unbearable from the heat. Plus, it involves other people–the inevitable moments you get crammed up into someone sweaty armpit or grab a glob of something unknown on the poles. The WNYC Data Team has been tasked on something quite timely. First, they’ve created a “Live Subway Agony Index” which we’ve embedded below and they’ve also created a guide to which subway cars are likely to be more hot (something key to know when faced with the choice of transfers).
This particular Kickstarter definitely doesn’t need more help, and that’s certainly not why we’re writing about it. But designers, transit enthusiasts, and architects are going gaga over this subway poster, inspired by the specifications of the original Standards Manual for New York City subway signage by Bob Noorda and Massimo Vignelli. Last year, this same team, successfully funded a Kickstarter to reissue The Standards Manual. Now, this poster is an affordable way to “get it into many people’s hands,” they write, with the opening price at $35.
Whether you’ve made the trek from New York City to the Hamptons and Montauk, to the North Fork wineries or perhaps to the Revolutionary War spy town of Setauket, you’ve likely either sat on a crowded Long Island Railroad train or been in bumper-to-bumper traffic on the Long Island Expressway. A water alternative, The Sea Jitney (operated by Seastreak and Hampton Jitney), has just opened, bringing passengers from East 35th Street in Manhattan to Port Jefferson, from where you can either explore the historic area or board a Hampton Jitney that goes to Southampton, East Hampton, Sag Harbor and Calverton.
We recently took a ride to the ferry’s ribbon cutting ceremony and we realized the best part of the ride, in addition to be just under two hours, is what you get to see going in and out of Manhattan. One after another, “untapped” gems from abandoned islands to notable lighthouses passed into view. Here’s a preview of what you’ll see:
We received two sound clips from an anonymous source, rather mysteriously recently, in response to our recent photo expedition down in the construction of the Second Avenue Subway. All it said was that the attached sound files were the “loaded” train announcements for two stations stops along Phase I, the rerouting of the Q train from 63rd Street to 96th Street. Above, we’ve made a quick video mixing the sound clips and some our Second Avenue Subway photographs.