The Subway: A Sight-Seeing Stop of Its Own

7 March 2013

A man with hot pink fish net stockings, jean shorts and mesh shirt, a long yellow wig, and glitter all over his eyes. You don’t know where he’s going; you don’t really care. You just want to look at him, for as long as you can, without him really noticing. A homeless man, a businesswoman, and a middle school child are all in the same car. That is, a car on the subway, the metro, the train. Whatever you want to call it— it is the means of transportation for millions of people living, working and visiting in New York City. No trip to New York is complete without experiencing a ride on the subway. The things you see, the things you smell, the things you hopefully don’t taste, all add to this necessary experience. New York City, the city that never sleeps, is known for its bright lights and many sights to see, places to visit. But what’s a better way to get to sights than the mobile sight itself?

According to MTA’s website, the New York City subway served 5.3 million people weekly, in a study done in 2011, the highest amount of people within the past 50 years. The top three busiest stops are Times Square, Grand Central Station, and 34th St.-Herald Square. Once you get over the germs and claustrophobic effect of rush hour, or peak hours, you are able to sit back and observe, people watch; take in the sights that can only be seen and experienced on the New York subway.

A ride on the express 2 train can garner all sorts of entertainment for the city visitor or resident alike. Because the ride is express, the stops are more infrequent, allowing train performers more time to entertain you, in hopes of collecting money. One of the more common acts you’re likely to see on the 2 train is break dancers. Yes, it is possible to break dance on a moving train. The 2 train break dance crew consists of 3-5 teenage boys, and sometimes a younger child, all of whom are equipped with crazy moves. They manipulate their bodies around the poles on the train, and creatively entertain the passengers for a full 4-5 minutes. After their act, they send the youngest boy around with a hat to collect spare change from whichever passengers are inspired to give. The Break Dance Boys, as I’ve personally nicknamed them, have gotten the most money from train riders of all the acts that I’ve seen on the subway.

If you opt for a ride in the other direction, towards the beach in Brooklyn, you’re bound to run into a few musical acts on the train. There is a man who sings and plays a guitar, along with a pre-recorded track broadcasted from a boom box (which is held by a little girl). It is an upbeat Spanish song that most Americans won’t understand. But you can tell that the man has fun singing it. As the song comes to an end, the little girl puts on her sweetest face and walks around to all of the passengers to ask for money. As the train comes to a stop, they both hop out, and run to the next car to do it all over again.

One of the best things about the subway is the convenience. It is possible to get just about anywhere in New York City, and surrounding boroughs for much less than cab fare. Aside from convenience, the people and styles that you see on the train make the ride so worth it. The people of the New York City subway system have been so outrageous that there are several websites dedicated to exposing the different people that you can see on the train.

Although it seems that every day in New York is a festival for something, the Mermaid Parade on Coney Island is one of the best days to ride the train to see the amazing costumes, outfits and getups of the participants. Actual mermaid outfits, more promiscuous mermaid outfits, men in mermaid costumes—it’s all there. And it’s all interesting to see.

When visiting New York, don’t miss out on the mobile sight that is the subway. There is always something to see. Riding the train is an experience all on its own. No matter which direction you’re going or what you have planned for the day, incorporate a subway ride and you won’t be disappointed. Maybe you’ll see someone on their way to work in Times Square, already dressed in costume as Elmo or something you can’t quite figure out. The New York City subway is a sight that shouldn’t be missed.


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