NYC subway secrets
June 13, 2007 1:42 PM   Subscribe

Most visually interesting parts of the New York City subway system?

So, I'm throwing around a project idea that will involve compiling a brief list of the most visually interesting sights that can be seen, specifically, in the tunnels of the NYC subway, from the windows of moving trains. In general, I'm hoping for interesting architecture in tunnels, where tracks of different elevations cross underground, or remnants of prior platforms or connections between systems are apparent. My criteria are simply that such features must not be located in stations, or on elevated or ground-level tracks, and that they be visible during casual travel (not on semi-restricted stretches, like the old City Hall station).
A couple examples that I've thought of include:

- The 145th Street trainyard on the 1 line.

- The abandoned 91st Street station on the 1/2/3 line.

- The stretch on the A train at 103rd Street, where both levels of the station can be seen at once (my favorite so far).

Any additions to this list, especially in boroughs outside of Manhattan, would be enormously helpful to me! Thanks!
posted by UnnotciedTypo to Travel & Transportation around New York, NY (20 answers total) 33 users marked this as a favorite
The Manhattan skyline from the N train between Queensboro Plaza and 36th Ave.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 1:45 PM on June 13, 2007 [1 favorite]

The Brooklyn Bridge and the Statue of Liberty seen from the Manhattan Bridge (a corner seat of a Brooklyn-bound Q).

There are some weird spots in the tunnels between that bridge and the DeKalb Ave NQRW stop--graffiti murals painted behind some small pillars to create a shadowbox effect. You have to go check it out to see what I'm talking about.
posted by nasreddin at 1:51 PM on June 13, 2007

Go here.
posted by LionIndex at 2:00 PM on June 13, 2007

Have you ever seen the 168th St. 1 stop? It's pretty interesting with the lighting and bridges. You get this sort of crappy almost green lighting from the old lamps then some sections have the newer brighter fluorescent lights. Then there's that whole overpass to get from downtown to the uptown section. At least it's one of my favorite stops because it's a weird steam punky combination of old and new.
posted by kkokkodalk at 2:03 PM on June 13, 2007

Abandoned 18th st. station on the East side IRT (#6)

175th St. A Train looking north, you can almost touch the next station up, 181st st. Very cool, they may be amongst the two closest stations except for the Franklin Avenue Shuttle.

The huge conglomerate stations have so much it is hard to really narrow it down.

The Fulton St. /Broadway - Nassau St. is chock-a-block full of them.

Hunterspoint Ave. on the 7, Underground but with the east end just peeking out of the ground before the 7 goes aboveground. Very cool to be in the first car Queens-bound. As you leave to go further into Queens you see the LIRR yard and the Hunterspoint LIRR station.

At least before 9/11 you were able to stay on the 6 train at Brooklyn Bridge and it would make a loop and you could see the old Brooklyn bridge station that was abandoned in the 40s because it would make a loop as it re-positioned to go uptown. Gorgeous!!!

PS The PATH also has an abandoned station at 18th st. This one is pretty well-preserved.
posted by xetere at 2:12 PM on June 13, 2007

there's a lot of graffiti everywhere, but i used to see a lot on the 1 between 96th and 103rd.

also, it's always groovy if you can get into the first car and it happens to be a car with a window looking out onto the tracks ahead. i'm not sure if those cars are around anymore--i think it may have only been the old red trains that ran on the 2/3.
posted by thinkingwoman at 2:26 PM on June 13, 2007

I'm not sure if you can still do it but about a year ago, while still living in manhattan, I walked most of the high line one day. it might just be your last chance before the conversion into a park, though that will be cool.
posted by krautland at 2:33 PM on June 13, 2007

All you could ever want. as far as art visible from platforms/trains.

I like the otterness statues.
posted by lalochezia at 2:37 PM on June 13, 2007

lots of amazing graffiti, and some of the subway art is super nice. there is one by fort tyron park (sorry, can't remember the name) which has beautiful, sculptural tile of birds.

the best (IMO) site for this stuff:

and specifically:

I always go to that site before adventuring in nyc!
posted by ethel at 3:02 PM on June 13, 2007

oh, and this:

sounds amazing - hopefully it will be restored one of these days - i hear its covered up by graffiti now..
posted by ethel at 3:04 PM on June 13, 2007

Is this ad in the PATH tunnel still visible?
posted by mkb at 3:07 PM on June 13, 2007

nasreddin is referring to a piece of zoetrope art called the Masstransiscope which has unfortunately been disfigured by graffiti.

The Brighton line is pretty impressive if you're at the front of the car heading south through Brooklyn. It's mostly a straight line, above ground, for quite a while.
posted by thejoshu at 3:13 PM on June 13, 2007

What nasreddin said about the tunnels between DeKalb and the bridge. Even with the disfiguration, the tunnels themselves are cool.

Also, sometimes they run F/G trains (without stopping) through the lower level of Bergen St. when there's work going on; it's pretty cool down there.
posted by equalpants at 3:18 PM on June 13, 2007

mkb: Yes, I saw it last week.
posted by armage at 3:19 PM on June 13, 2007

I always thought the area around the 36th St. Yard in Brooklyn is interesting. You pass by on the D train (or the B train, in my time), going from tunnel to a brief hint of sunlight, back into the tunnel, then out and up onto the elevated tracks, passing platforms and sidings no longer in use. I think it's just north of the 9th Avenue stop.
posted by greatgefilte at 3:48 PM on June 13, 2007

Not a tunnel, but the F train near smith/9th (at the gowanus canal) is four stories up in the air! It runs OVER old factory/artist studio buildings. The view of Manhattan is very cool - I think it is the view from the opening of the old "Welcome Back Kotter" tv show.
posted by RMD at 4:26 PM on June 13, 2007

Wow, I never knew that that wasn't originally graffiti! I'm normally all in favor of tagging, but that's just lame.

I think there are spots elsewhere that have ads displayed in a similar fashion. Which is, I think, even worse.
posted by nasreddin at 5:37 PM on June 13, 2007

The abandoned City Hall station on the #6 can only be seen if you stay on past the last stop (Brooklyn Bridge) - though passengers aren't strictly allowed to - the train does a turnaround past the old station. Check out forgotten NY website for more of what you're looking for.
posted by Kensational at 7:53 PM on June 13, 2007

There's an interesting dead end at Times Square where the shuttle comes really close to the uptown 1/2/3 lines. The original subway line 100 years ago used to run from downtown on what are now the 4/5/6 tracks, turn west along 42nd Street on what is the now the Times Square Shuttle track, and then head uptown on what is now the 1/2/3 tracks. I've always been fascinated by the little tunnel on the western end of the shuttle platform in Times Square that has buffers (bumpers) to mark the end of the line for the shuttle and that also gives you a view of the 1/2/3 tracks/trains. Alternatively, if you're on the 1/2/3 going uptown, you get this nice little view of that tunnel connecting to the shuttle tracks from the right side of the train.
posted by stephenfrancoeur at 3:48 AM on June 14, 2007

The 7 train in Long Island City gives a great aerial veiw of Five Points graffiti.
posted by twoporedomain at 1:10 PM on June 14, 2007

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