Jessica Gross

Mapping the Subway

In people watching on September 11, 2008 at 6:47 pm

My first apartment in New York City was in Brooklyn. A week after I moved in, I pulled out my subway map as I descended into the MTA depths. A man brushed past me in a leather jacket and tats, wheeled around, and barked, “You better put that away or you’re gonna get robbed.”

This was startling, but I had an in: Tats could tell me where to go! Which he did, naming a two-transfer route that was in fact the most direct way to get there. (I checked my map on the subway.)

To be a New Yorker, you must have memorized the subway map. You can’t just know how to read it. You must never look at it. Never.

The question: how many boroughs does a New Yorker have to memorize? Even a friend of mine who’s lived in Manhattan for five years doesn’t know Brooklyn for beans. Just Manhattan? The borough you live in?

Vote in comments.

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  1. I only know from about 86th St. to downtown Manhattan. I daren’t venture to other buroughs.

  2. Manhattan and the parts of Brooklyn your friends live in. Queens, every part of the Bronx besides Yankee Stadium and Staten Island can suck it.

  3. […] money to stay in its hotels and eat its food. Sure, they haven’t “earned it” by learning subway routes or paying rent, but shouldn’t a city serve its visitors as well as its residents? […]

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