One hundred years ago today the first NYC subway train left city hall and made it’s way up the west side of Manhattan to Harlem. The route was privately run by the Interboro Transit Company (the IRC) until sometime around 1940 when it was taken over by the city who consolidated it with the BRT and IND into the full fledged 722 miles long behemoth it is today. Today the 1 and 9 trains run through along mostly the same tunnels as the original (there used to be a little crosstown jag from Grand Central Station east to what is now Times Square, now it goes straight down from Times Square to Penn Station and on South). Check out a quick NYC Subway history here.
In any event, as a special birthday present to me, the turnstyle at the 79th street station locked up and refused to read my metrocard. This unwelcome gift had two primary ramifications. One it caused me to crash painfully into the metal crossbar not once, but twice as I hurried to catch the 9 train, and two it slowed me down just enough to watch the train doors slide shut in my face as I finally burst through.
The seconday effects were manifold. We can start with a bruise on each thigh (although I should probably give some small measure of thanks to my gene pool – if I were a shorter man I might now be a lesser man if you catch my drift). Another inevitable consequence was that the four minutes that elapsed until the next train on the line pulled in were sufficient to cause me to miss my connection at Penn Station to the 7:31 Long Island Railroad train to my parents house in Rockville Centre. All of which led to a half hour wait in Penn Station for the 8:09 train. The 8:09 arrived in RVC at 8:45 where my father had, in a truly unbelievable spirit of generosity, left my car for me to pick up and drive to work in Jericho where I arrived at 9:20, precisely twenty minutes late.
That’s quite a lot to chalk up to a finnicky turnstyle, but that’s life on the subway I suppose and you have to take the bad with the good like people have been doing in New York for a hundred years now as they put up with the bigger problems of crime and the rampant disrepair that plagued the system in the seventies and 80s. I’ve only been alive for a little over a quarter of the system’s history, but I’ve loved her (yes she’s gendered) for as long as I can remember. So hopefully she’ll understand how I feel when I say that she’s a grand old dame, but sometimes she can be a real bitch. So Happy Birthday bitch.
Holiday season is approaching fast. If you’re looking for a gift for a special Chrispy in your life, this one is sure to make him happy.