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Posts tagged ‘Subways’

Creepy Tunnel Awaits Public Art

Creepy Tunnel at 191st St New vs Old - DNAInfo

Photo credit: DNAinfo/Lindsay Armstrong

I disliked using the 1-Train Uptown because of the tunnel. Until a few months ago, it symbolized the Portal to Hell, how lost souls would gain entrance to the netherworld. But not now.

How it used to be: After exiting the 191st Street Station, the dark, dank, dirty and seemingly-endless long tunnel from the station to Broadway captivated my imagination. I envisioned the helpful city planners and happy artists painting beautiful murals several years ago. But we all suffered the reality of ugly black graffiti, stuck-on posters that someone burned while on the wall, and dirty ineffective lighting fixtures. I even complained about the illumination to the local precinct police. Tunnels don’t bother me; I’m from Pittsburgh, a city replete with tunnels. The specter of violence and/or unsavory occurrences spooked me although regular, law-abiding people traversed it daily. My mind simply worked overtime. I wasn’t scared, just leery (and lazy, weary of walking uphill once I exited on Broadway).

Now: The Department of Transportation replaced the lighting with brilliant and energy efficient LED lights last autumn. That transformed the tunnel. It’s still dank and long, but doesn’t awake my automatic dread response. I wish I had a bike or skates to float along its inviting length. Along with the platform renovations, LEDs make the 191st Street Station a safer and more desirable destination.

Public art waits to happen here. See DNAInfo: City Seeking Artists to Paint Murals for ‘Creepy’ 191st Street Tunnel. I moved to the neighborhood after the “new” mural was already blighted, so I never got to see it in its glory. Curse the taggers and graffiti “artists” who’ve already marred and mauled the tabula rasa of newly painted walls! I, for one, happily await new, creative artwork (not spray paint) that will uplift community spirit and beautify our corner of Washington Heights.

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Blizzard ’15: Update

Service changes rule the System as the MTA normalizes service.

Service changes rule the System as the MTA normalizes service.

 

QUIET…

The City was silent last night. But for the sound of salt trucks and snow plows, an unnatural, yet welcome silence blanketed the City. Yes, a blanket. Puffy, white piles of snow mounded on the sidewalks, cars, trees, fences.

But now we’re getting back to “normal,” that is, what is abnormal: the busyness of the City. I hear distant sirens; is it some poor ill soul or a vehicular accident?

Restarting trains and buses, the MTA’s progress seems to be a health report of the City. The transit system is its pulse, its heart, and its medical condition is revealed in the transit schedule.  Right now, there are no buses on Broadway—at least none I can hear—and I usually can hear them.

The baby next door cries and quiets. A few children outside sparkle the air with their amusement. My husband, home from work, makes cooking and washing up noises from the kitchen. It is peaceful. An automobile drives by, its tires sounding slushy. Someone’s shovel scrapes the sidewalk.

This lassitude, this ease, this torpor, this languor, this lethargy, this tranquility, this calm—THIS is what it’s like to live “out of town,” i.e., NOT in New York City. Peacefulness. As much as I like the activity in the City, I miss the quiet of “town,” my type of normal, snowy day.

A snow day is rare. Rarer still is subway shutdown. Is the patient moribund? Or just having a heart transplant? I hope it’s the latter. NYC can do with a change of attitude.  A storm can take her to her knees but won’t take her down all the way. She’ll rise again, a remade entity, and wait for the next challenge thrown her way.

We’re safe, we’re warm, we’re well-fed. We’re grateful and taken care of.

Coolest Subway Stations?

Photo credit: Kristine Paulus  - , used under CC BY-NC 2.0

The entrance to Narnia a Hobbit hole? – Photo credit: Kristine Paulus , used under CC BY-NC 2.0

Did you know that the A train’s 181st Street Subway Station (IND) is on the National Register of Historic Places? I wouldn’t have known that had I not seen am New York’s article on the Coolest Subway Stations in NYC. So is the 190th Street Subway Station. Of the eight locales featured, the station entrances on Ft. Washington (181st) and Bennett Avenues (190th) ironically earned their attention in the company of the gleaming new Fulton Center station, where virtually every line converges, and the gleaming Smith-9th Streets station (F & G trains).

“The National Register of Historic Places (NRHP) is the official list of the Nation’s historic places worthy of preservation,” states the NRHP website. Four local subway stations became listed in 2005. Including those mentioned above there are the 168th and 181st Street Subway Stations (IRT, 1 train). Renovation is ongoing in these stations (as well as the 191st Street station), restoring the old tile, upgrading the facility, and counterbalancing the lack of modern functionality of the early 19th century designs.

The amNY article only highlighted the station entrances and didn’t distinguish the relative pleasantness or ease of use of the underground facilities, both of which I find lacking at these stations. Still, it’s kind of “cool” to have my local stations called out for their art deco styling (181st) and Narnia-like mystique (190th).

I’ll want to explore this further.  I want to see the petition for adding the 181st Street Station on Ft. Washington (and not its art-deco counterpart at 184th St. and Overlook Terrace) to the NRHP, which is not on the website. What, actually, is registered? The façade? The peeling doors? The vestibule? The concrete entrance fronting the elevators?

We shall see, because there is a mystery to get to the bottom of, and I’m the person to do it.

The 1 Train Tunnel

IRT at 191 and Broadway

The 1 Train Station at 191st Street and Broadway

I’m enthralled with the subway—at least the parts I’ve traveled. Choosing between the A- and the 1- trains was simple until recently; the A train always won. The entrance at W. 184th St. is a short walk up Overlook Terrace, and you can grab a book from the Nomat Book Club’s bookcase situated at the curb if you lack reading material. The walk homeward is flat, too.

NoMat at A train

NoMat Book Club at W. 184th St. and Overlook Terrace. Last summer it was on the wall. Now it is at the curb (“New Location”).

The IRT 191st Street Subway tunnel from Broadway always spooked me. Its dark and gloomy aura promised nightmares with the light fixtures dim and dust-filled. Mysterious mile markers (190.52, etc.) appeared high on the walls, but not regularly. Recently I took the 1 train when a track emergency caused the A train to halt at 168th St. I reluctantly exited the 1, dreading the tunnel. However, I was delighted to see new LED lighting and bright yellow walls (albeit vandalized by graffiti). This development, along with the renovation of the platform, will make the 1 train more desirable a transportation choice… even though the walk homeward is uphill.

I Feel Your Pain

 

A friend told me the following subsequent to reading my post from last week, The ‘Subway Hilton’ will be Full Tonight.

One day recently, after the Xmas shopping rush, his daughter had the occasion to go shopping in town. She set out armed with all of the “Mom paraphernalia,” a full diaper bag and snacks, plus her own handbag. She strapped her bundled up baby in his stroller and set off for the City. She muscled the stroller up to the train platform in Brooklyn. It is not an unusual sight to see young mothers with strollers struggling up these stairs as there are rarely elevators at those stations. I suspect the trip was uneventful.

When they arrived in the City she rolled the stroller off the train amidst the departing travelers. She faced two long flights up. She started wrestling the stroller up the steps. No passerby stopped to help. She reached the first landing panting. Suddenly she saw motion above, someone jumping over the turnstile. “Here, let me help,” he said extending his hand. He took the foot bar and made light work of carrying the stroller up to the main floor. They passed through the exit gate and she thanked him profoundly. “I appreciate your help. I couldn’t have done it as easily without you,” she said.

“Glad to help,” he replied. “You get to feel someone else’s pain when you’ve been there yourself.” She watched his disheveled form walk away and settle in the corner near the gate amidst some jumbled bags and crates. The man, she realized, was one of the denizens of the subway, an underground resident, willing to lend a hand when most would not.

One can experience kindness anywhere and everywhere.

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