“People who want to understand democracy should spend less time in the library with Aristotle and more time on the buses and in the subway”
– Simeon Strunsky
Twenty-three lines, 468 stations, 5 million daily riders, 1.5 billion yearly riders. Probably the most famous subway system in the world. Not the first, certainly not the best, but the one everybody seems to know. Administered by the Metropolitan Transit Authority, or MTA. The New York City subway trails only the metro systems of Tokyo, Moscow and Seoul in annual ridership and carries more passengers than all other rail mass transit systems in the United States combined.The trope here is that the subways of New York City are hot, grimy, filthy, encrusted with graffiti, and magnets for street crime. While this was once basically true, subway cars haven’t fit this bill since 1990.
“Of course, in Los Angeles, everything is based on driving, even the killings. In New York, most people don’t have cars, so if you want to kill a person, you have to take the subway to their house. And sometimes on the way, the train is delayed and you get impatient, so you have to kill someone on the subway. That’s why there are so many subway murders; no one has a car.”
― George Carlin, Brain Droppings
I was raised by a single mother who made a way for me. She used to scrub floors as a domestic worker, put a cleaning rag in her pocketbook and ride the subways in Brooklyn so I would have food on the table. But she taught me as I walked her to the subway that life is about not where you start, but where you’re going. That’s family values.
Deprived of the opportunity to judge one another by the cars we drive, New Yorkers, thrown together daily on mass transit, form silent opinions based on our choices of subway reading. Just by glimpsing the cover staring back at us, we can reach the pinnacle of carnal desire or the depths of hatred. Soul mate or mortal enemy.
– David Rakoff
I hate people walking down the street listening to the soundtrack of their lives which responds to them but not their setting. I hate the overspill of sound which metro and subway riders are oblivious to because they notice no one and nothing around them.
– Margaret Heffernan
In New York, you’ve got Donald Trump, Woody Allen, a crack addict and a regular Joe, and they’re all on the same subway car.
“The words of the prophets are written on the subway walls and tenements halls and whispered in the sounds of silence”
I always feel like people in general are much weirder and insane than anybody really wants to admit. How dare somebody watch anything and go, ‘That’s not real!’ Go on the subway. For five minutes.
– Max Greenfield
If I ever have to stop taking the subway, I’m gonna have a heart attack.
– Edward Norton
“I never overestimate the audience, nor do I underestimate them. I just have a very rational idea as to who we’re dealing with, and that we’re not making a picture for Harvard Law School, we’re making a picture for middle-class people, the people that you see on the subway, or the people that you see in a restaurant. Just normal people.”
– Billy Wilder
Wall Street is the only place that people ride to in a Rolls Royce to get advice from those who take the subway.
– Warren Buffett
“There is nothing Tourettic about the New York City subways.”
― Jonathan Lethem, Motherless Brooklyn
“Everyone has this sense of togetherness right now. For example, one guy on the subway today, he wanted to share my pants.”
– David Letterman
Thank you… fat dude with giant headphones on the subway, for looking like what would’ve happened if Jabba the Hutt mated with Princess Leia.
– Jimmy Fallon
See more New York City photos in full resolution at: http://www.howardfrankphotos.smugmug.com/New-York-City/