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Suggestions for Improving the NYC Subway System
August 1, 2013 3:07 PM   Subscribe

NY Magazine picks the 22 Ingenious Ways to Improve the Subway from this tumblr list (some more practical than others).
posted by beisny (104 comments total) 11 users marked this as a favorite

 
The "directional arrows on stairs" and "stand/walk lanes on escalators" are futile. But many of the others are quite good.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 3:12 PM on August 1, 2013


Car density one is awesome. But also please something for the unintelligible announcements:

" GARBLE GARBLE G TRAIN rerouted over XFSFSDFDRRS from 5:30 until XXMFF. Please disembark and RERDGRTDMRGFFF and if you do not you shall surely die and/or end up in Connecticut. Remember: MARBLEGARBLEFARFF"
posted by sweetkid at 3:16 PM on August 1, 2013 [16 favorites]


I'm not so sure. I found that in Hong Kong, a majority of people seemed to observe these arrows guiding entry and exit into the subway cars.
posted by beisny at 3:19 PM on August 1, 2013


I guess that stuff would help tourists.

What they really need to fix is the metrocard vending machines. Too many menu options. I should be able to walk up and put in a bill and get a metro card for that amount without touching anything.

The one that annoys me is cameras in the cars. Potentially Sketchy Trains? What makes trains sketchy exactly?
posted by Ad hominem at 3:20 PM on August 1, 2013


I'll trade all of these for decent east west service above 100th street and more train links between Queens And Brooklyn.
posted by The Whelk at 3:23 PM on August 1, 2013 [11 favorites]


I'll trade all of these for decent east west service above 100th street

I got 25 years to go before I can be seen on a crosstown bus.
posted by Ad hominem at 3:24 PM on August 1, 2013 [4 favorites]


23 already exists in Borough Hall in Brooklyn.
posted by Skorgu at 3:24 PM on August 1, 2013


An entrance exam. Rush hour express trains that allow entry based on a token unavailable to tourists. On-demand pressure washing for the smelly person that sneaks into every car. Undercover cops, camouflaged as wall tile embellishments, that punch you in the face if you piss or shit on the platform. Breathalyzers that detect pina colada and ban you from the subway after 11 PM. Cattle prods for rent. Overhead shelves for small children. A little robot that comes in and draws a chalk outline of anyone sprawled out on the seats, then repeats "Fuck you" in a shrill monotone until they get off the train. A mechanical arm that randomly snatches bulky bags and delivers them like manna from heaven into the Mole Kingdom beneath the tracks. Raccoons that stalk messy eaters while rubbing their little people hands with evil glee. A specialized device that identifies the loudest headphone leakage in a given car and covers the wearer's head with a thick layer of quick-drying spray adhesive.

Etc.
posted by Inspector.Gadget at 3:26 PM on August 1, 2013 [47 favorites]


Found a (crappy) picture!
posted by Skorgu at 3:28 PM on August 1, 2013


All we need is Jeff.
posted by zarq at 3:30 PM on August 1, 2013


About half of these items are already implemented in other subway systems.
posted by kiltedtaco at 3:31 PM on August 1, 2013 [1 favorite]


Inspector.Gadget, have you seen this Gawker list? I have a feeling that you would like it.
posted by beisny at 3:32 PM on August 1, 2013 [2 favorites]


Oh, bike racks. Please, bike racks.
posted by likeatoaster at 3:33 PM on August 1, 2013 [1 favorite]


Undercover cops, camouflaged as wall tile embellishments

I know what my next halloween costume is going to be.
posted by kiltedtaco at 3:35 PM on August 1, 2013 [1 favorite]


I love the car density one, though I think it'd be prohibitively expensive. Also safe inter-car passage - not that I feel the passages are particularly unsafe, but because they do, and thus, it is illegal now. Similarly with straps - bring them back!

Staten Island tunnel, omg. Also the portable AC stations. And the wifi.
posted by corb at 3:35 PM on August 1, 2013


I like #17: Cardinal Directions.

Getting off the subway and knowing which way is North would be wonderful. (It would have helped me even more in Tokyo, where I was usually lost.)
posted by kozad at 3:36 PM on August 1, 2013 [7 favorites]


That is exactly why I carry a compass kozad.


Besides, always pick the first car, no one is ever in the first car.
posted by The Whelk at 3:38 PM on August 1, 2013


Anti-microbial EVERYTHING.
posted by peripathetic at 3:38 PM on August 1, 2013


Built in ejection systems such that when the asshole with the backpack is constantly turning and bumping into me then mean mugging me like it's my fault, he's blasted out into space the third time he does it. Also applies to the parent letting their Little Darling run amok then freaking out when someone runs into the little bastard.
posted by Ghostride The Whip at 3:39 PM on August 1, 2013 [2 favorites]


Anti-microbial EVERYTHING

That will just force the microbes onto the streets where they'll be a bigger burden on the city.
posted by The Whelk at 3:43 PM on August 1, 2013 [8 favorites]


" GARBLE GARBLE G TRAIN rerouted over XFSFSDFDRRS from 5:30 until XXMFF. Please disembark and RERDGRTDMRGFFF and if you do not you shall surely die and/or end up in Connecticut. Remember: MARBLEGARBLEFARFF"

Years ago, I was visiting a friend who had grown up in NYC, and we were waiting on a subway platform when one of those unintelligible announcements happened. She walked from one side of the platform to the other, and when I asked her how she knew to do that, she said that babies born in NYC get special things put in their ears that allow them to understand subwayannouncementese. I would totally believe this.
posted by rtha at 3:50 PM on August 1, 2013 [7 favorites]


Stair mesh would be great. Last summer, it was raining and I tripped on the top step going downstairs. I hit my head hard and split my right ear open. It was not a great night.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 3:50 PM on August 1, 2013


They already carefully engineer the benches in the stations to prevent people from sleeping on them. I doubt they have more germs than anything else.

You can figure out cardinal directions by which way the train was moving. After you get out of the station you can figure out by the vector between the two entrances.

When you commute by train you tend to stand in the same place every time. I usually end up getting in the same door every time. I know the car density for that time of the day and that car. I sometimes forget people you know, leave the house for reasons other than work.

Mesh stairs would only cause people to hang out under them peering up skirts. The mesh stairs we already have in newer stations have railings to try to prevent people from doing it.

The rest of the stuff is more signage and electronics, which is cool I guess.
posted by Ad hominem at 3:53 PM on August 1, 2013


I'm not so sure. I found that in Hong Kong, a majority of people seemed to observe these arrows guiding entry and exit into the subway cars.

It's such a cultural thing. When I moved to San Francisco, I was astonished to see people *lining up* at the doors (or more accurately, the door markers on the platforms) of BART trains and Muni streetcars before they arrived, even at rush hour. In NYC (or Philly) this is inconceivable.

I'm about to move to Washington, DC for a while, and learning the ways of the Metro is perversely one of the things I'm looking forward to.
posted by eugenen at 3:53 PM on August 1, 2013 [1 favorite]


When I moved to San Francisco, I was astonished to see people *lining up* at the doors (or more accurately, the door markers on the platforms) of BART trains and Muni streetcars before they arrived, even at rush hour.

As a transplanted New Yorker what's really amusing to me is that since we got all-door boarding on Muni buses (around a year ago) people still line up as usual but as soon as the doors open all hell breaks loose.
posted by 2bucksplus at 3:59 PM on August 1, 2013


You can figure out cardinal directions by which way the train was moving. After you get out of the station you can figure out by the vector between the two entrances.

Um... that's useful for those who know the city. But personally, I only end up on subways while traveling to someplace else, and I can't count the number of times I've gotten to ground level and had NO idea where was what, even with a map, and ended up waisting 30-60 minutes getting oriented, even with a map in my hands (and I'm REALLY good with maps).

Stepping out to find a compass on the ground at the top of the stairs pointed toward North would have saved me a lot of time.
posted by hippybear at 4:02 PM on August 1, 2013 [8 favorites]


Also in the larger stations you go up and down and around so many stairs and passageways you have no idea where you are.
posted by The Whelk at 4:06 PM on August 1, 2013 [8 favorites]


I am pretty surprised to see that they don't have CCTV in the trains. In the UK it's everywhere.
posted by absolutelynot at 4:07 PM on August 1, 2013


That's just to combat Lovecraftian Horrors tho.
posted by The Whelk at 4:07 PM on August 1, 2013


Yeah, ok. Put me down as in favor of compasses. Also more clocks.

Moving between cars is already illegal, so making it safer to break the saw is a non starter.
posted by Ad hominem at 4:08 PM on August 1, 2013


Wait who's taking minutes. Don't tell me I have to do it again.
posted by Ad hominem at 4:08 PM on August 1, 2013


There's nothing wrong with the NYC Subway system that can't be fixed by making every entrance an outdoor escalator.
posted by Navelgazer at 4:12 PM on August 1, 2013


Not even a compass really, because in Manhattan, that will actually be sort of confusing. You just need a sign at the exit pointing which way is uptown or downtown.
posted by LionIndex at 4:13 PM on August 1, 2013 [2 favorites]


I just carry an actual compass around with me when I travel. I've learned not to keep it in the same pocket as any transit ticket that has a magnetic strip.
posted by aubilenon at 4:14 PM on August 1, 2013 [1 favorite]


You just need a sign at the exit pointing which way is uptown or downtown.

Oriented area maps near all of the exits is the most useful way to do this.
posted by aubilenon at 4:14 PM on August 1, 2013 [1 favorite]


That's just to combat Lovecraftian Horrors tho

I thought Boston was the only subway system where you have to worry about Lovecraftian Horrors, but amongst other things, the New York City subway system does have that really creepy door that you're not supposed to open until doooooooooomsday.
posted by RonButNotStupid at 4:16 PM on August 1, 2013


Hand sanitizer definitely won't fly. Not only is hand sanitizer highly flammable, it's also about 140 proof ethanol that's safely (if not precisely pleasantly) potable. Enterprising alcoholics would rapidly deplete the supply, if not altogether make off with the dispensers on unattended platforms.
posted by demons in the base at 4:21 PM on August 1, 2013


OMFG cardinal directions yes yes yes PLEASE
posted by showbiz_liz at 4:24 PM on August 1, 2013


Those are mostly excellent (really!) ideas. Someone please implement them!
posted by dabug at 4:27 PM on August 1, 2013


This one is out of left field but, reopen the stands that sold hotdogs and orange drink in those cone shaped paper cups like you see in The French Connection. Nedicks maybe?
posted by Ad hominem at 4:28 PM on August 1, 2013


#69 is the best, which could just be accomplished by hiring one person at each station who gives enough of a shit to yell "HEY TRAINS CLOSED GO TO 6 TRAIN INSTEAD" every few minutes.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 4:31 PM on August 1, 2013


No. 17, Cardinal Directions, is a good one. I have no sense of direction once I exit a subway station.
posted by cazoo at 4:32 PM on August 1, 2013


What you need to understand is that the reason public transit isn't optimized is the fear that more people will use it and then it ends up overwhelmed and unusable. ( The reason for fares is to try and keep them from being moving hobo homes )
posted by srboisvert at 4:33 PM on August 1, 2013


They don't even need to be Cardinal Directions. North, South, East and West would do.
posted by Flashman at 4:34 PM on August 1, 2013


They don't even need to be Cardinal Directions. North, South, East and West would do.

There only are four cardinal directions and those are them.
posted by aubilenon at 4:36 PM on August 1, 2013 [15 favorites]


Yeah which way is uptown is the question I get asked the most on the street. I think they pick me because I look like I have someplace to be so I must know my way around.

One time a couple asked me directions and then made a point to walk the opposite way. Like they had me figured out. Sure, I'm already late to work and I get my kicks giving people wrong directions. good thing they didn't ask me what time it was, I would have given them r time slightly off just to fuck with the rest of their itinerary. They would have been 7 minutes late to everything for the rest of the day.
posted by Ad hominem at 4:40 PM on August 1, 2013 [2 favorites]


MY SUGGESTION FOR THE SUBWAY IS SIMPLE. APES. APES EVERYWHERE. YOU CANNOT ESCAPE THE APES. ORANGUTANS LOPING OVERHEAD. THRONGS OF HOOTING GIBBONS FILLING THE CARS. CHIMPANZEES SWARMED ON THE TRACKS. A BLIZZARD OF BLOOD AND GORE APPEARS AS THE COWCATCHER-EQUIPPED TRAIN PLOWS THROUGH THE SIMIAN HORDE. HORRIFIED CUSTOMERS RUN FOR THEIR LIVES AS GORILLAS CHASE THEM ON THE PLATFORMS. BUT THERE IS NO ESCAPE. THERE IS NO ESCAPE FROM THE GORILLAS. FOR LEMURS HAVE WELDED THE ENTRANCE SHUT. YES, I AM AWARE THAT LEMURS ARE NOT APES. IT JUST SO HAPPENS THAT THE SUBWAYS ALSO HAVE LEMURS. BECAUSE FUCK YOU
posted by Sticherbeast at 4:41 PM on August 1, 2013 [20 favorites]


Maybe I'm not giving people enough credit, but in Manhattan, the cardinal directions don't correspond to the street grid, and I just picture that making people even more confused. You want New York-based directions instead.
posted by LionIndex at 4:43 PM on August 1, 2013 [4 favorites]


The wind turbines idea is pretty foolish. A lot of the power that goes into propelling a train forward goes into propelling the air in front of and behind it forward, and any meaningful attempt to harvest power from that air would only make the trains themselves less efficient.
posted by Blasdelb at 4:44 PM on August 1, 2013 [3 favorites]


Sticherbeast: "MY SUGGESTION FOR THE SUBWAY IS SIMPLE. APES. "

Does anybody besides Doctor Zaius have a suggestion?
posted by boo_radley at 4:51 PM on August 1, 2013 [11 favorites]


The stand/walk lane signs on escalators would be fantastic! I once got into an argument with a fellow-citizen who was convinced that walking was disallowed on the escalators, and was FURIOUS that I was doing so.
posted by Greg Nog at 4:56 PM on August 1, 2013


#101: Spray remaining 10% of non-urine covered surfaces with urine to assist in further desensitization.
posted by wcfields at 5:00 PM on August 1, 2013 [4 favorites]


This quarter's GDP by sector: Manufacturing down 0.5%, paying people to urinate on walls up 0.4%.
posted by kiltedtaco at 5:33 PM on August 1, 2013 [3 favorites]


The cardinal directions one is the simplest conceivable thing; a well-made stencil and a can of road marking paint and you could do dozens of station exits in a single night; the key is to make the design so that one direction is really obvious at a glance. You actually probably need two stencils; one with a mid-size arrow for North and a larger arrow for Downtown (Manhattan use) and one with just the north arrow (outer boroughs).
posted by Homeboy Trouble at 5:35 PM on August 1, 2013


NY Magazine generates content by ripping off this Tumblr list. Sigh.
posted by Apropos of Something at 5:35 PM on August 1, 2013


In NYC (or Philly) this [people lining up] is inconceivable.

I'm about to move to Washington, DC for a while, and learning the ways of the Metro is perversely one of the things I'm looking forward to.


Heh. A friend of mine was visiting DC from Philly (or as he calls it, The City of Brotherly Fuck You Too, Pal) and said something felt odd about riding the Metro. Then he realized: "No one was intentionally banging into me as they walked by." Someone apologized for stepping on his foot and he about died.
posted by psoas at 5:36 PM on August 1, 2013 [2 favorites]


I once got into an argument with a fellow-citizen who was convinced that walking was disallowed on the escalators

In her defense it is illegal
posted by the young rope-rider at 5:40 PM on August 1, 2013 [2 favorites]


Yeah if youre illazy












BOOOOOOOOOM best joke ever
posted by Potomac Avenue at 5:51 PM on August 1, 2013 [2 favorites]


To all those supporting cardinal direction markers, I can affirm your hunch is absolutely on the mark. A large cardinal directions marker was installed on the floor of the Chicago Red Line stop at Grand Avenue when they fixed it up a couple of years back, and it really is very helpful. Unless you are a mole person, no matter how good your usual sense of direction might be, it's disorienting being underground.
posted by JimInLoganSquare at 6:05 PM on August 1, 2013


Inspector.Gadget for mayor of NYC NOW
posted by lalochezia at 6:28 PM on August 1, 2013


The proposed direction rose should have 5 points:

Avenue North (parallel to the avenues)
Avenue South
Street East
Street West

and a fifth, subordinate pointer
True North (29 or so degrees west of Avenue North)

I have lived in NY almost all of my life. I usually have no idea which direction I am going when I exit the Times Square station. And I normally have an excellent sense of direction.
posted by hexatron at 6:29 PM on August 1, 2013 [2 favorites]


The one that annoys me is cameras in the cars. Potentially Sketchy Trains? What makes trains sketchy exactly?

Um, stuff like this?
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 6:52 PM on August 1, 2013 [1 favorite]


I have a terrible sense of direction. Frequently when I was getting of the train I would point (discreetly, I hoped) north based on where the train was heading, then keep pointing north as I found my way out of the station until I reached the street.
posted by The corpse in the library at 7:16 PM on August 1, 2013


Cardinal directions indeed. One of the most revelatory moments of my NYC-area suburban middle school life was the first time I figured out that paying attention to the "Northeast corner of X Ave and Y St" signs meant that you could exit a station and not be completely disoriented, and, instead, walk off purposefully like a Real New Yorker. I think I've blown a couple of minds in recent years explaining how I know which way to go when I come out of those stairwells, and I absolutely hate stations that don't have those signs.
posted by hot soup at 7:18 PM on August 1, 2013 [1 favorite]


You would have to invent them first, but some sort of automatic bed bug zapper. Thnx!
posted by armacy at 7:18 PM on August 1, 2013


Really cool; especially love the train density mock-up and the cardinal directions.

I don't see a single one of these that would be particularly financially impractical if we funded transit the way we've funded automobile infrastructure.
posted by threeants at 7:32 PM on August 1, 2013 [1 favorite]


The proposed direction rose should have 5 points:

Avenue North (parallel to the avenues)
Avenue South
Street East
Street West


A Manhattan-dwelling tech writer dude I know calls these "logical north," "logical south," "logical east" and "logical west."

Where the word "logical" doesn't seem to mean, like, "sound and fully rational," but seems to function more like the "observed" in "President's Day, observed."
posted by Now there are two. There are two _______. at 8:43 PM on August 1, 2013


Let's not forget that the subway has 468 stations. Implementing any kind of change is a gargantuan and expensive effort. The last "major" signage change didn't actually change very much, and still stretched well into the millions of dollars. Doing things like installing security cameras could easily end up running a billion dollar pricetag (if not higher).

I'm also sure that the MTA would also eagerly love for its stations to be rebuilt with better drainage and waterproofing. (Just don't put uncovered escalators outside. DC's, um... collected quite a bit of data that shows that this is a completely terrible idea)

That being said, a lot of these are simple enough to actually stand a chance of being implemented. Most popular suggestions for transit improvements tend to be extremely impractical in practice (and there's still a fair share of that here), but a bunch of the stuff (especially the signage and wayfinding suggestions) are great.

Similarly, the MTA (and many other transit agencies) need to be kicked for using "traditional" practices to maintain their systems, when these practices are obviously ineffective and outdated. If the white subway tile looks like shit and falls off after 10 years, it's probably not a good idea to reinstall that same white subway tile when the station (eventually) gets repaired. Ditto for the wooden benches.
posted by schmod at 9:30 PM on August 1, 2013


I don't see 'travel back in time and eliminate Robert Moses' as an option, but I think that's probably the best bet for fixing the MTA.
posted by hobo gitano de queretaro at 10:10 PM on August 1, 2013 [1 favorite]


They announced the cardinal directions signage before, at least in Midtown.
posted by DangerIsMyMiddleName at 10:21 PM on August 1, 2013


Um, stuff like this?

That's not sketchy, that's a crime. Seems like sketchy is code for not-white.
posted by Ad hominem at 12:05 AM on August 2, 2013


Let me be clear I don't have a problem with cameras for crime prevention. I have a problem with the word "sketchy".
posted by Ad hominem at 12:06 AM on August 2, 2013


peripathetic: "Anti-microbial EVERYTHING."

Anti-microbial microbes?
posted by InsertNiftyNameHere at 12:55 AM on August 2, 2013


I found this interesting even though I don't live in NYC but goddamn what is it with people posting screenshots from tumblr all the time? Just copy the fucking content and leave a link. Then people who enjoy their text having crisp edges can read it. And we can adjust the font size and stuff. This is my ingenious suggestion for the blogosphere.
posted by NoraReed at 2:01 AM on August 2, 2013


NY Magazine generates content by ripping off this Tumblr list. Sigh.

I know! It's like they don't realize that the MTA decisionmakers have been following this tumblr all along.

I don't see a single one of these that would be particularly financially impractical if we funded transit the way we've funded automobile infrastructure.

You forgot to say hamburger.

I think some of these suggestions are implementable, especially if you consider them to be prioritized to the busiest 25-50-100 stations. Many of the outer borough stations, for instance, rarely have the amount of foot traffic that would necessitate the stairway markers, and fewer still (I surmise) actually have escalators!

The hand sanitizer issue, and a few others, comes down to the same reason that the bathrooms that used to be on practically every side platform were locked up and even walled away years ago -- maintenance, security, and so forth.

Things like digital train markers will become possible as new generations of technology are installed, but would probably require some ingenuity or generosity from the vendor.

The idea of capturing passive power such as solar or "wind" energy is neat, but ignores the fact that the system already operates on a massive electrical grid somewhat independent of the city grid and that generation is well over capacity, making things like station lighting almost "free" in terms of the system. So while they might be sustainable they won't save (or gain) much money.

Similarly, ideas like "recovering" the slush are probably overthought, since the main thing they need to do is assist the natural gravitational hastening of that water toward the Atlantic. As such a kind of heated, drainable stair step is more practical and would only have to meet the standard of being less slippery, when wet, than an existing concrete step covered in slush. (One of my less favored memories of New York was sliding on my butt all the way down the stairs at my regular stop to the platform level. Of course, I was on my way to work....)
posted by dhartung at 2:39 AM on August 2, 2013 [1 favorite]


I guess that stuff would help tourists.

Having fewer groups of people standing around in your subway stop wondering where the fuck they are always helps speed up the daily commute for everyone else.

If you're a commuter who works in or near the Empire State Building, you want the stops near there to be super obvious from the train so tourists can see that they are indeed at the Empire State Building, they can jump off the train to see a big bright tourist info map on a wall that is not in the way of commuters, and they can confidently march right up the correct stairs to get to the Empire State Building (maybe with a big colored line on the sidewalk leading well away from the steps and right to the building entrance) and pump more money into your local economy more efficiently.
posted by pracowity at 3:25 AM on August 2, 2013


Wind turbines…? /facepalm.

Local vendors would likely get upset by cardinal direction marking. If you make directions from a place too clear, people won't stick around, and (semi) lost people buy stuff. At least, that was the argument made by vendors in the PATH regarding destination signage.
posted by scruss at 4:09 AM on August 2, 2013


A Manhattan-dwelling tech writer dude I know calls these "logical north," "logical south," "logical east" and "logical west."

I do the same except I call it "grid north," etc.
posted by thecaddy at 6:15 AM on August 2, 2013 [3 favorites]


If you make directions from a place too clear, people won't stick around, and (semi) lost people buy stuff.

Local vendors can be assholes when you try to make things better for tourists. In Niagara Falls, the local tourist industry battle came down to gunshots and firebombs. And someone was stealing signs:
A few years ago, the road signs to the waterfalls here were vanishing so often that the state finally stopped replacing them. [snip]

Without directions, tourists generally stop for help at roadside ''information booths'' that they often assume to be official. Instead, these booths are run by rival sightseeing operators who promote their tours and steer business to hotels and motels paying a percentage for the bookings. [snip]

''They'll find the waterfalls sooner or later,'' said Mr. Guido, a former narcotics detective who is the largest tour operator here. ''But first, we want them to filter through our business community.''
posted by pracowity at 6:37 AM on August 2, 2013


One of the most revelatory moments of my NYC-area suburban middle school life was the first time I figured out that paying attention to the "Northeast corner of X Ave and Y St" signs meant that you could exit a station and not be completely disoriented

There are also street maps on the walls by the staircase with the intersection into which you will egress marked in red!
posted by elizardbits at 7:24 AM on August 2, 2013


However if people perusing these maps block the staircase they will be killed.
posted by elizardbits at 7:26 AM on August 2, 2013 [1 favorite]


That doesn't solve the problem of reading HAVENSPECKLER AVE NW CORNER and still having no idea where you are cause where the fuck is the corner of Havenspeckler and Corntriggs again?

I solved this problem by never leaving Manhattan.
posted by The Whelk at 7:58 AM on August 2, 2013 [1 favorite]


Not leaving Manhattan is 90s era dated snobbery. I mean that in a nice way. It's just not a thing though.
posted by sweetkid at 8:18 AM on August 2, 2013


its not snobbery. im just really easily confused.
posted by The Whelk at 8:19 AM on August 2, 2013


That's not sketchy, that's a crime. Seems like sketchy is code for not-white.

As a woman, who has encountered sketchy dudes on the subway, I immediately understood "sketchy" as a code for "having the potential for sexual violence."
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 8:28 AM on August 2, 2013


It wasn't sketchy dudes, it was sketchy trains. Look, we can both be right here. It just seems to me that whenever anyone refers to a place in New York as sketchy it means that there are non white people there. You can't unsee it after you notice it.
posted by Ad hominem at 9:03 AM on August 2, 2013 [1 favorite]


Maybe I should change that to many people. Maybe some people find the upper west east sketchy.
posted by Ad hominem at 9:11 AM on August 2, 2013


Cardinal directions would be great, but what changed my life (or at least the rare trips I take to New York) was when someone on Metafilter told me that Even streets go East. That means I can pop out of the subway, look at whether the street is odd or even, and orient myself based on the way the traffic is headed.

Please don't tell me that this method doesn't always work. I rely on it!
posted by cider at 9:13 AM on August 2, 2013


the upper west east

Definitely sketchy. That's what I get for typing while on the phone. I'm giving Nymag a one time pass on a technicality.
posted by Ad hominem at 9:21 AM on August 2, 2013


To all those supporting cardinal direction markers, I can affirm your hunch is absolutely on the mark. A large cardinal directions marker was installed on the floor of the Chicago Red Line stop at Grand Avenue when they fixed it up a couple of years back, and it really is very helpful.

They're doing this for all the stops as they renovate them. They're pretty common now, at least on the north side red line stops that I've seen. I too love them - it took probably over a year of living in Chicago to get that innate "where is the lake" sense that I use to orient myself. And even with that, being underground and all the turns of platforms and staircases and whatnot can easily throw you off.

The Minneapolis airport has WALK | STAND markings on its moving sidewalks. It did seem to help somewhat.
posted by misskaz at 9:30 AM on August 2, 2013


The sketchiest places in nyc are the ones full of drunk entitled white dudes within 4 years in either direction of 21, come on.

Also most even streets go east, yes, but some of them rudely also go north. West 12th street I am glaring at you.
posted by elizardbits at 9:34 AM on August 2, 2013 [4 favorites]


also fuck cobblestones
posted by elizardbits at 9:36 AM on August 2, 2013


First time I ever heard Williamsurg refereed to as sketchy. It is usually Brownsville or east Flatbush or anything over 110th street.

Maybe I am making something out of nothing. But it's not like I'm saying drunk white dudes aren't sketchy. I'm just saying I never hear white neighborhoods described as sketchy no matter how many drunk white dudes there are there.

You guys may use the word one way but I can tell you not everyone uses the word that way.

You think tumblr or nymag means drunk white kids on the train?
posted by Ad hominem at 9:50 AM on August 2, 2013


Also most even streets go east, yes, but some of them rudely also go north.

That's only in the West "Our streets are still wandering cowpaths cause during the grid placement we were quarantined during a cholera outbreak" Village.
posted by The Whelk at 9:52 AM on August 2, 2013


It's such a cultural thing. When I moved to San Francisco, I was astonished to see people *lining up* at the doors (or more accurately, the door markers on the platforms) of BART trains and Muni streetcars before they arrived, even at rush hour. In NYC (or Philly) this is inconceivable.

As a native Philadelphian in San Francisco, I just sneak around these people, because dammit, I want a seat.
posted by madcaptenor at 12:57 PM on August 2, 2013


A Manhattan-dwelling tech writer dude I know calls these "logical north," "logical south," "logical east" and "logical west."

Where the word "logical" doesn't seem to mean, like, "sound and fully rational," but seems to function more like the "observed" in "President's Day, observed."


SF Muni's web site has a page explaining what logical directions are.

(I should note that I disagree with them. Numbered streets in SOMA run east-west, because that's what they do in the Mission, and it's the same damn grid. But I suppose by that logic I should call SOMA "east of Market".)
posted by madcaptenor at 1:02 PM on August 2, 2013 [1 favorite]


When I first moved to NYC, I got into an argument with this girl I'd started dating because I was like, "Yeah, it's about a mile northeast of there" and she was like, "You mean a mile north" and I was like "I think it's more northeast" and she was like "No in NYC it's north" and I was like "what? no it's northeast dude" and she was like "why are you being stubborn about this??" and I was like "THESE ARE NOT SUBJECTIVE TERMS THEY HAVE TO DO WITH LIKE EARTH MAGNETISM AND SHIT" and well anyway that relationship didn't really last very long sorry Khadijah you were pretty nice otherwise
posted by Greg Nog at 1:13 PM on August 2, 2013 [4 favorites]


We play by our own rules.

Fuck your magnetic pole rest of the world.
posted by Ad hominem at 1:25 PM on August 2, 2013 [1 favorite]


Numbered streets in SOMA run east-west, because that's what they do in the Mission, and it's the same damn grid

This model has some problems around the intersection 3rd st and 16th st.

THESE ARE NOT SUBJECTIVE TERMS THEY HAVE TO DO WITH LIKE EARTH MAGNETISM AND SHIT

Eh. In NYC, magnetic north and geographic north differ by 13 degrees.
posted by aubilenon at 1:39 PM on August 2, 2013


This model has some problems around the intersection 3rd st and 16th st.

Third Street in the Dogpatch isn't a numbered street. It's a state-named street. You've never heard of Third Carolina?
posted by madcaptenor at 2:42 PM on August 2, 2013


The sketchiest neighborhood of all is the cartoon universe in the "Take On Me" video
posted by Sticherbeast at 3:07 PM on August 2, 2013 [2 favorites]


Seeing the quality and condition of our public goods always leads me to try to imagine what America would be like if our taxes were actually spent on our behalf.
posted by George_Spiggott at 10:03 AM on August 3, 2013


23. Designated Directions on Stairs

At first glance, this could be seen as a hopeless gesture. But in countries like Japan, this works. People see the arrows, and follow accordingly, minus rush hour.
Hahahahahahahahahahaha HAHA Haha ha ha ha. Ha. ha.

(There's no good reason the text in these is all pictures, is there?)

Also, do they have a comma quota they're trying to fill up or something?
posted by 23 at 6:38 PM on August 4, 2013


Someone years ago said they didn't understand why the digital clocks in the newer cars show the time in the middle of the sign (since the bars throughout the car often block the time if you're looking at it straight on) instead of putting the time twice on the left and right side. Now I look at those signs and it's all I see.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 6:43 PM on August 4, 2013 [1 favorite]


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