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Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Transit for the Masses

59th Street Subway
Photo by myself from the platform of the 1 and 9 trains, at 59th Street.

Sometimes I'm on the subway platform, gazing out at the puddles of glop, the garbage, the rats and the rails, and I'm astonished that we're in the 21st Century.

I've been to Washington DC, and Boston, and Paris, and London, and Hong Kong, other large cities with underground transit. Of all the cities, New York is easily the worst, in terms of conditions, aesthetics and timeliness.


I could go on about the subway, and I have on occasion. But I won't.

I wanted to clue people into an excellent article in The New Yorker about another major mass vehicle that makes New York the city it is, that is, the elevator.

In 'Up, Then Down', Nick Paumgarten reminds us that without the elevator, we wouldn't have buildings higher than five stories. We'd have a sprawling mess.

Remember the guy who was trapped in a New York City elevator for over 40 hours, the footage of which was on You Tube? Paumgarten starts with that guy, then goes into the history of elevators, touching upon the tallest buildings of the world and the latest elevator technology. The result is a pretty fascinating look into these little boxes on cables that take us up and down.

People living in other lands may never encounter a elevator. In New York though, they are an experience to be tolerated. Many people have one at the office and one in their apartment buildings.

Recent models have inset lcd screens showing the news, the weather, words of the day and celebrity gossip. It's a small distraction to pass the few seconds it takes to get up or down.

Unless you were that unfortunate guy stuck in one over a weekend.

Related posts: If You're Happy Clap Your Hands, Au Secours and Notes From The Underground.


Julie said...

I shake my head in bewilderment. An LCD to take me up in an elevator. This probably accompanies the LCD in the car seats, the aeroplane seats and in the buses. Is it just me? I really don't need these consumables. I have an inbuilt LCD screen to use on such occasions. I think of it as my imagination.

Your image of the NY underground station (underground ??) is, indeed, pretty third world. I will see if I can get images of some of Sydney's underground stations. I will probably be harrassed by those pesky men saying "No photos. Security, madam!"

Kitty said...

Morning, Julie
Lol, I love your attitude.

The lcd can be pretty ridiculous, esp with the celeb gossip. I feel it's like mind control, and it's hard not to look at it. Everyone's head automatically turns to look at the little screen.

Mark says your subway system is brand new and beautiful. Sounds grand!

ken mac said...

Speaking of elevators, they never work in the NYC subway. A few years ago they started to re-tile all the subways in the city, then they got to West 4th, and ran out of money. It is without a doubt the ugliest hellhole in Manhattan! Welcome to Calcutta.

Virginia said...

Just visited your blog for the first time today. I like your photos very much.

Susu said...

I once again I really like your picture. It conveys so well the peculiar atmosphere. What I sometimes wonder is that do subways make people weird, you know those nut cakes that you are bound to encounter whilst down under there, or were they that way before and does the place thus attract them? Maybe the gloominess could be enticing to some, give them kicks. Strange huh.

Tammy said...

That picture is a little creepy eh. It reminds me of a horror movie, especially since you mentioned rats. LOL

Kitty said...

Hi Ken Mac
you were brave enough to go into a subway elevator? Actually there are a few subway stops where you have to use the elevator. I think one is in Brooklyn Heights.

Generally, I stay far away from the ones in the subways. They are a bit, eh...scary.

Welcome Virginia from Alabama!
Always good to see other DPers out there. I look forward to visiting your blog.

Hi Susu
One thing you quickly learn is that the nut cases are everywhere, not limited to the subway. A great many loiter in Washington Square Park, I'm not sure why.

No need to fear the subway because of crazy people. If a place is well-populated (which accounts for most of the city) you are safe. It's pretty safe all around here.

Hi Tammy
lol, well, as long as you don't look into the tracks, you'll be all right. The puddles of goo are kind of yucky.

Sylvia said...

Very nice photo.