3.01.2015

subway tokens, greek coffee cups, and me: missing nyc

This week I received email from my friend Alan, formerly known in this blog as Alan with one L, or AW1L.
Subject line: Re: 34th Street/Penn Station Just Now

Out-of-Towner [leaning into packed Uptown Express [2 or 3] train]: "Does anybody know if this goes to Times Square?"

About 10 Passengers [as one--all with exactly the same *annoyed* tone]: "Yes!"

It was *excellent*! [I *love* this town!!]
I loved this little story! I loved that AW1L thought of me when this happened. It also made me feel homesick and wistful for my old hometown. I replied, in part, "Sometimes I miss my old life. No one I know now would even understand what's so great about this!" I don't know if that's true, but sometimes I'm astonished by how much my life has changed since moving to Canada.

Now I'll use this email and those wistful feelings as an excuse to post these NYC items. One has been sitting in Blogger drafts for five years!

From 2010: A History of New York in 50 Objects, worth a click, including some comments. Coffee cups, sewing machine, an oyster. But... a Metropass and no token??

From 1904 to 1948 subway riders paid their fare with ordinary coins. But since its introduction in 1953, the token has been an absolutely iconic feature of the City. It was phased out when the Metropass was introduced in 2003. Thumbs down for Metropass-but-no-token on this list!

An enduring piece of New York City through the ages can be seen here, documenting the subway tiles and mosaics found on each line and in each station: NY Train Project.

Also from The New York Times, although much more recently, some features on NYC time travel. If the New York Times is writing about it, you can be sure it's on its way out, but they're good stories just the same: Regilding the Gilded Age in New York, and Five Ways to Time Travel (and Party) in New York.

Here's another bit of New York City time travel, something once iconic, and now seldom seen.


See also: leslie buck, we are happy you served us and, further back, we are happy to serve you.




18 comments:

allan said...

Alan likes to use brackets.

allan said...

Tokens!

laura k said...

Brackets are an essential hallmark of Alan email!

laura k said...

Ack, I just remembered another link I wanted to include here. I'll update now.

laura k said...

Tokens!

I wish I had kept one of each version I have used.

allan said...

It turns out there are many old tokens for sale on eBay.

laura k said...

I wouldn't buy them on eBay. I just wish I had saved some.

If I was at a physical flea market and saw a token, I'd buy it. But finding it online and having someone send it to me would not be satisfying.

Amy said...

I remember tokens. The last time I took the subway (about a year ago), I was completely flummoxed by the new system and had to find a transit cop to help me. Even he was confused about how to buy a one way fare.

I miss tokens.

laura k said...

Tokens were great. You were able to look down into your hand and know exactly how many rides you had. You could buy them one at a time if you needed to. If you lost one, it was only one fare lost, not a whole card.

And now all the people who were accused of paranoia have been proved correct. Metrocard use, especially when paid for with a debit or credit card, is being used to track people and target potential troublemakers - i.e. people exercising their Constitutional rights.

johngoldfine said...

When the MBTA in Boston introduced its passcard, it was named the Charlie Card in honor of the old 'Charlie on the MTA' song. For a city not otherwise noted for its lightheartedness, I'd call that pretty cool. Metrocard sounds soooo corporate & unimaginative by comparison.

Not to rag unduly on your hometown, Laura.

laura k said...

I hear they considered the Smells Like Piss In Here and Homeless Man Flashing You cards, but Guiliani voted against those.

laura k said...

Believe me John, there is nothing you or anyone can ever say about NYC that I haven't thought and said already myself. Nor anything ever under the sun that could make me prefer Boston over New York. Baseball teams notwithstanding, of course.

Amy said...

I love both cities. NYC is the city I knew first, the one that is and always will be THE city to me. There is always too much to do and see in NYC. I could never be bored. It is a living thing---the energy, the excitement--it's both exhilarating and exhausting.

Boston is beautiful, much prettier than NYC, IMHO. It works on a much more human scale. I love walking in Boston because there are open spaces, you can see the sky, you can feel its history wherever you are. But there is not much that is exciting there (except the Sox). It's a whole different feel.

Boston is comfortable and lovely. NYC is challenging and exciting. Just very different.

And Fenway is the ONLY place to watch baseball. :)

laura k said...

Yes, Boston is a lovely little town. Like Philadelphia, it's a nice place to visit.

allan said...

Like Philadelphia, it's a nice place to visit.

Well, there's a lot, a lot of culture there.

laura k said...

Well, there's a lot, a lot of culture there.

I was wondering if you would say that, or "It's like a baby New York!".

johngoldfine said...

"Yes, Boston is a lovely little town. Like Philadelphia, it's a nice place to visit."

Excuse me there, Laura! You're talking about the Hub of the Universe and the Athens of America.

Lovely and nice, indeed!

laura k said...

I thought you'd like that, John. ;)