3. Slugs at the New York Transit Museum

A collection of fake subway tokens on view at the New York Transit Museum.

The New York Transit Museum is home to a wide display of slugs, or fake coins, used to avoid payment of fare by subway riders prior to the days of MetroCards. Tokens were used by the New York Transit Authority System from 1953 until 2003. One form of fare evasion is known as “token sucking” in which criminals would use gum wrappers, paper, cardboard of even matchbooks to stuff the token slot. When a frustrated rider would go to the booth to complain that the turnstile did not move, the perpetrators would steal the tokens by sucking them out.

Those criminals who did not practice “token sucking” used counterfeit coins, seen above. These included foreign coins, washers, amusement tokens and tokens from other fare systems. The Transit Authority made several designs of subway tokens over the years, such as a design with a “Y” cut out of “NYC”, but the MetroCard ultimately proved to be the only solution to end the fraud.