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Long before a VISIT NEW YORK plan takes shape, probably all newcomers will go to the internet links describing our subway system.  And, “well they should!”  This will be the lifeline of a visit, just as it is the lifeline of almost all who live here.  The raves and blasts may be even in number, but, anything truly great must bear these opinions. For this writer…where to start. 

 

Historic Subway ConstructionHISTORY and TODAY, briefly:  October 27, 1904–THE first day of operation. Skipping really quickly, the system by now has 26 lines and 468 stations operating. The 8th Avenue “A” train is the longest line, stretching more than 32 miles, from the northern tip of Manhattan to the far southeast corner of Queens. (This is the line that visitors often use for getting from and to JFK International Airport.) About five million passengers are weekday travelers.

Travelbook NYC Visit

Our subway is only one of three systems worldwide to operate 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Yes, it can be unbearably crowded or dirty, but the subway is one New York City institution few New Yorkers—or tourists—could not do without. (Even our latest–and growing–multitude of bicyclists must use the subway sometimes.)

THE BIGGEST NEWS: Read all about it! THE SECOND AVENUE SUBWAY  

Second Avenue Subway NYC

Thousands of us showed up on Day 1– We are already in love with it, but there are some disappointments.  While plans for expansion are alive, 96th Street north to 125th Street, it will probably be a talking point for many decades before it is real.  But this blog isn’t for complaining, it’s for enlightening and creating interest. The good news items relating to the new line are real: a great transportation addition for Upper Eastsiders, connection to other lines and into the outer boroughs, the businesses that suffered through the construction mess for so long can now get-back-to-business and are looking forward to many new customers. Stunning artwork in the new stations invites us all to linger, adding a memorable adventure to the travel experi-ence. Especially, the mosaics that fill the eye in the 72nd Street station will be personal highlights. 

HOW VISITORS CAN MANAGE OUR 150 MILES UNDERGROUND AND FROM THE ELEVATED TRACKS HIGH ABOVE

Time to plan the Big Apple trip! Coming from Idaho? Rome? Taiwan? No matter, there are books and books, the Internet, maps — all showing in great detail the subway lines running through the five boroughs.  Queens lacks lines as that borough geographically spreads out–and close–to Long Island. But all other areas are well-served, most 24 hours each day.

NYC Subway Halloween

HALLOWEEN — BEST NIGHT TO RIDE THE SUBWAY — INCREDIBLE!

THE PRESENT MAP is shown totally enlarged on all subway stations and is now digitally interactive, updated as changes occur.   At almost all stations there are local-neighborhood maps to assure a stress-free visit.  The most modern subway cars feature digital maps of the line.  Google maps give Google-great directions–from here to there! AND…never fear asking a New Yorker for help. It may take one or two tries, but we are ready to help!  We often speak other languages.

FINDING ART, UPSTAIRS AND DOWN

Some stations are amazing–grand–beautiful. Historic panels reflecting the area’s history; ceramic tiles and mosaics; small sculptures. Certainly not most stations–funds have always been limited.  The new Second Avenue line boasts amazing artwork. Look around–it’s there as you travel the city. Many outdoor elevated stations have been restored, with leaded stained glass murals and interesting metalwork, at times reflecting the culture of the neighborhood.

NYC Subway Art

SOME PERSONAL OPINIONS AND REAL FACTS:

  • In winter:  Stations can be sooo cold.  Subway cars are warm and comfortable
  • In summer:  Stations are miserably hot. Subway cars are freezing!
  • Don’t let your Metrocard go empty.  Add fares when you are not in a hurry, as lines can be long at the machines
  • Wi-Fi  is active in all stations–just log in
  • Load the subway (and buses) apps on your cellphone.  They are excellent.
  • Always:  Be alert!  Bad people live everywhere, unfortunately, and your money, cell phone…anything of value.  Well…be careful, please
  • Monday through Friday, between 3 and 4pm, high school students often fill whole cars.  They can be quite loud and active, filling much of a car. Try to select a car that shows usual subway passengers within.  A much easier experience.
  • Enjoy the wonderful music often found on underground stations. Irresistible talent earning small amounts of $$, bringing pleasure to all

Subway Musicians NYC

  • Don’t be surprised if  the subway car is crowded even at 11 pm, especially on Friday and Saturday nights–this IS New York City!
  • Subway lines are color coded, with numbers or alphabet letters assigned.  BE CAREFUL:  Sometimes cars are exchanged and these ID codes can’t be changed. Listen to announcements (in English),check the announcements posted on the stations.
  • Be considerate and offer a seat to an elderly or disabled person, a pregnant woman, a parent with young child
  • Yes, except during rush hours, bicycles and baby carriages can be accommodated; rush hours are a problem
  • Be careful planning on weekends and late-late nights–often subway routes are affected by maintenance projects

Thank you for visiting our city and becoming “one of us” in the subway.  I try always to smile at visitors–look for me!!  We do thank you for being part of our New York City life, if just for a brief visit.

NYC Subway Tourists