More Love Letters-NYC Subway-001

We came across this Post-It note in the subway with the hashtag #moreloveletters. It reminded us of The Strangers Project, which collects handwritten journal entries from strangers across the country. A quick search led us to More Love Letters, an organization started by Hannah Brencher, a New York transplant motivated by her own loneliness in this city.

As she says in her TED Talk, “I was living in New York City and it felt like the most impossible battle of my day was trying not to cry during random subway rides for no apparent reason. I felt lonely. I felt disconnected…So on those subway rides–the lonely ones where no one talked or said even more than a word to one another–I started writing those same kinds of love letters my mother had written to me and tucking them throughout New York City for strangers to find.”


1980-transportation-alternatives-transit-strike-subway-NYCA Transportation Alternatives volunteer directs hordes of inexperienced bikers commuting to work during the 1980 transit strike

We all know how frustrating it is when your morning train has issues. (We’re looking at you, L line!) Now imagine eleven days without subways or buses. By 1980, the city had started to recover from the mid-’70s fiscal crisis, but dealing with union contracts, many of which had been frozen or taken a hit during the crisis, presented a new challenge. In the conventional telling of the story, the Transit Workers Union Local 100 demanded a 30% raise and more days off, the MTA countered with a 3.5% raise and increased productivity requirements on March 31, and the strike began on April 1. The seeming outlandishness on both sides makes more sense with a bit of historical context.


Echo Vault-Manhattan-Abandoned-Unused Subway Station-NYCEcho Vault. Photo via Gothamist

We know you guys love to read about New York City’s abandoned subway stations, reveling most recently in a Fun Map of these subterranean fascinations. But what about subway stations that were built but never used? An article today about from Second Avenue Sagas about the 7 line extension station at Hudson Yards, awaiting passengers as the rest of the mega development is completed, reminded us of these. Here are 5 never completed or barely used subway stations in New York City:


NYC SubwayThe 1962 Subway “Bar Car’. Image via The Subway Maven

Drinking an alcoholic beverage on the subway today would probably get you ticketed or arrested but this was not always the case. Alcohol was actually a served along the subway, as reported by The Subway Maven. In the early 1960s, New York City’s Transit system was in the middle of a massive cleanup campaign. As a way to promote it, the Metropolitan Transit Authority created “a bar car” in January of 1962, a one-time publicity stunt for the campaign.


AINT WET-Guerilla Street Art Marketing-NYC-001

No, you didn’t read that wrong. AINT WET is a guerrilla marketing campaign for the rather bizarre clothing company of the same name run by one Abraham El Makaw. Over the last few months, we’ve come across a few of the signage he’s posted all over the city. His Instagram account, also the official AINT WET account, has a penchant for dead birds, dead fish, roaches, dead rats and marsupials, often smoking cigarettes amidst found trash. Nothing is beyond the limit, with two bottles of pee photographed to mark his 24 hours spent underground.


NYC Subway Map Public Competition-1964-R Raleigh D'Adamo-Gary Lloyd-Reka Komoli-2Submission to the 1964 NYC subway map competition by Raleigh D’Adamo, original design, reconstructed by Reka Komoli

Ever wonder why the 1/2/3 lines are red, or the N/Q/R yellow? Curbed NY has an article that explains it all. We first have to begin in the era when the NYC subway system was really three different systems–the IRT, the BMT and and the IND. Sometimes you can still see the tiles in the underground that reference the old terminology. It seems like New Yorkers like to hang on to old things, as these colors stayed even a couple decades after the unification of the systems in 1940.

On the subway map even in the 1960s, with 34 at the time, it wasn’t the clearest maps. And so in 1964, there was a public competition for the redesign.