I’m starting to tell you funny things about the New York subway. Some I’m sure you’ve already heard of them, but there are others I discovered after my trip and they may also be new to you. I’m also going to tell you important facts about the MetroCard, the best card to save money on the road in New York.
1. All lines pass through Manhattan.
All services pass through Manhattan, except for one route, the local G Brooklyn-Queens Crosstown line, which directly connects these two districts without passing through New York’s most popular neighborhood. On the other lines the stations are located along Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens and the Bronx. These are four of the five districts of the Big Apple that are covered in the New York Contrast Tour, the most famous tour among tourists.
2. The New York subway is the largest transportation system in the United States.
More curiosities about the New York subway: it is the most used public transport system in the United States and the seventh in the world. Every day about 6 million people travel and it has 468 stations. It transports about 1.64 billion passengers a year. This is one of the typical data that can vary from year to year. In fact until 2004 it was the most widely used transport system in the world. That’s nothing.
3. The New York subway is neither the oldest in the world nor in the United States.
The oldest in the world is the one in London, which came into operation on 10 January 1863. In the United States the first one to open its doors was Boston and it was inaugurated in September 1897. In New York work began in 1900 and the first line worked in 1904. Specifically on October 27 at two o’clock in the afternoon under the slogan “City Hall to Harlem in 15 minutes”.
4. In the construction of the New York subway worked 12,000 workers.
The New York subway work was carried out by anonymous employees. It is estimated to have been about 12,000, although other sources point to as many as 30,000. But if there were a few protagonists it was these three people: August Belmont, president of Interborought Rapid Transit; John McDonald, contractor; and William Barclay Parsons, chief engineer.
5. Times Square station flooded in 1996.
One of the curiosities of the New York subway that surprised me the most is that it usually suffers floods. They can be caused by rain or minor storms or by the passage of hurricanes in the city. Two of the most spectacular stops occurred in 2007 because of a strong storm, and in 2012 because of the passage of Sandy, a hurricane that left much damage in the city. But I was very impressed by the 1996 photo of Times Squaretomada station.
6. The first day of operation of the New York subway was used by 150,000 people.
More than 15,000 people received passes for the first series of trips, but in total up to 150,000 people used it. It was such an event that all the policemen of the city were on duty all day and well into the night.
7. New York City’s subway system is infested with rats.
Until you see it, you don’t believe it. I also thought that people were very exaggerated when they told you that there are rats in the subway and in the city. I assure you that, although the data are very variable depending on the source, I saw rodents on the streets and in several stations. They don’t mix with people, but you’re going to see them on the tracks and in the streets they’re near the garbage bags. So if you get repelled, try to ignore them as much as possible…
8. The price of the subway was 5 cents for 42 years.
From the time it began to operate until the mid-1940s, the New York subway did not increase its price. It was only worth a nickel or 5 cents. A price that was clearly insufficient to keep the trains and stations running, as well as to make the necessary improvements to make it efficient.
9. The first line of the subway was covered in 15 minutes.
This route connected City Hall with Harlem. It departed from Manhattan and passed the 42nd Street train station at Grand Central. From there it went to Time Square and went up Broadway to 145th Street. A total of 14 kilometers that could be done in 15 minutes.
10. The New York subway operates 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year.
For me, one of the best things about the New York subway is that it works all day. It only stops because of the weather, as I told you before: because of rain, floods or heavy snowfalls. Being open all night my first transfer from JKK airport to Brooklyn was a combination of Airtrain and subway. However, the second time I arrived at night I preferred to use a private transfer to get from Pennsylvania Station to Queens.
11. Most of New York’s subway network was built by the end of 1936.
In 1905 the expansion of the network towards the Bronx began. In 1908 to Brooklyn and in 1915 to Queens. The last stretches went to Harlem in 1932. By 1936 most of the network was built. Today the entire city is connected to the subway network, except State Island and New Jersey which have a rail service.
12. The biggest accident of the New York subway occurred in 1918 and 97 people died.
The subway seemed pretty safe to me. Clean – it depends on the stations. For me the biggest defect is that it is very noisy. The MTA estimates that there are 2.6 injuries per million users. The biggest subway accident occurred during the 1918 strike, in which 97 people died. More recently, in 1991, there was an accident caused by a drunk driver and 5 people died. According to the police, there are 9 serious crimes a day in the New York subway.
13. Up to 120 languages can be heard on New York’s subway carriages and platforms.
The New York subway is the meeting point where people from different cultures come together. New Yorkers are accustomed to living with people from all over the world, but in the subway it is even more evident. On line 7, which runs through the Queens area in the carriages, everything is spoken: Spanish, Hindi, Korean, Urdu or Russian. For a reason it is known as the international line.
14. The New York subway has 40 percent of exterior lines.
One of the things that surprised me most about the New York subway is that the 40th of the lines are certainly not underground. I already told you in this article about curiosities of New York in which some of the best views of the Big Apple are from a subway line. Also take note of the D line when you cross the Manhattan Bridge, the N line when you enter Queen and the elevated sections of the A and L lines.
15. The energy consumption of the New York subway could supply a city of 300,000 inhabitants.
This colossus has an annual budget of 5 billion dollars and its electricity consumption could supply a city of 300,000 inhabitants. To give you an idea, it has 468 stations 35 less than all the subway stations in the United States put together. The fleet is made up of 440 machines and 6350 wagons that circulate along its 26 lines and travel 558 million kilometers a year.
16. The New York subway has been the protagonist of many films
Films like Saturday Night Fever (1977), starring John Travolta, or French Connection (1975) – one of the most famous scenes is that of Gene Hackman chasing Fernando Rey by the subway – are just a couple of examples. One film that did him no favors was The Masters of the Night, about the street fights in New York in the 1980s. Spider-Man 2 had a sequence of a fight and the collision of an out-of-control elevated train in Manhattan.
17. One of New York’s stations was designed by a Spanish architect.
City Hall Station is not only one of New York’s most famous ghost subway stations, it is also on the list of the world’s most beautiful subway stations produced by Travel + Leisure magazine in 2009. This merit is thanks to the design of Rafael Guastavino, a Valencian who went to the United States, who in addition to participating in more than a thousand works and revolutionizing the way to build in the United States, won the competition to design this station. It is built with vaults tiled with tiles and has skylights that allow natural lighting.
18. The New York subway has the most stations in the world.
What I can assure you is that the New York subway seemed immense to me. It has 24 lines and 468 stops. Getting lost is relatively easy, especially if you’re not careful where you enter. A very simple trick is to look at the entrance if it says Uptown or Donwtown. Most lines and stations have local and express services. So the two outer platforms are for local trains and the central platform(s) for express trains.
19. The MetroCard payment method has been in operation since 1994.
The base fare for a loose metro ticket is $2.75, but since the MetroCard was imposed it is the best way to save money. Before my trip to the Big Apple I was looking for transportation information in the city. I’m definitely sticking with the $30 7-day unlimited pass you can buy with a MetroCard. You pay another 2 dollars for the card and you can use it from the moment you arrive at the airport. Another advantage is that it allows you to change buses.
20. The New York subway has more than 50 closed stations.
Although there are two that are super known as the High Line or the City Hall the truth is that there are many more closed stations. The curious thing are the reasons why they are not working: there are permanently closed ones; there are open ones, but they have closed platforms; others are unfinished; some have been demolished; and finally those that are temporarily closed to remodel or rebuild.