The New York City subway carries many secrets, like any extensive system that was built over time. But it also comes with quite a bit of lore — from 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.
Almost make sure to join us for our upcoming tour of the New York City subway, where we’ll take a ride through the living history of the world’s largest rapid transit system (in area) by weaving in and out of the past and present transit hubs of lower Manhattan.
10. Why Do MTA Conductors Point Up When the Train Is Stopped?
GIF via Buzzfeed
Pulled from this AMA on Reddit (the answers have since been deleted because the subway conductor was upset that his words were being quoted out of context and incorrectly): “We’re pointing at the conductor’s indication board, which is a zebra-striped sign. If the sign is in front of my window, it means that the entire train is on the platform.
They don’t trust us to just look (see that other question about zoning out), so required procedure is to point to it at every station before we open the doors. The absolute biggest violation a conductor can make is opening the doors where there isn’t a platform. If that ever happens, the first thing supervision is going to ask you is ‘did you point to the board?’.” Read more here.