Let me hear your stories of interactions on the NYC Subway!

A nickel will get you on the subway, but garlic will get you a seat.” -Old New York Proverb

I commute, a lot. First it was the F train to the A, then the Q to the 4, and now the D and the Times Square shuttle. All those hours on the train means hours of observation of human behavior and interaction. Though I am hardly the first to observe and collect information (see links below) anyone can start noticing patterns of behaviors and interactions. You even start to see the same cast of characters over and over. Being New York, one also sees people mistake the subway for a toilet, a nail salon, Scores and McDonalds. I see a fascinating ecosystem that begs observation, analysis and a good dose of humor.

I am collecting stories for a booklet project. They should be totally anonymous. Tell me your anecdote! What patterns have you noticed? 


Things I am observing:

What causes people to choose a certain seat, change seats, decide on personal space, conversation topics and bag (or shelf, see below) allocation. Filter analysis by personalities (AKA Cast of Characters), train volume, type and time. 


Refer to sketches for inspiration.


Observation Example: The 3 Seat Scenario

Seats 1, 2 and 3 are empty. Train is half full. Seats 1 and 3 always get occupied first. Seat 2 gets occupied only once train is very full.

IF train is again half empty and seat 3 now is now empty, it is expected that occupant 2 immediately move to seat 3. 

IF occupant 2 remains in seat, he enters the “Axis of Creepiness” regardless of time of day or character type.






Photo Inspiration: 

Some shots from the subway:


photo by A. Bylov


photo by Deja


photo by me

photo by Claudy R.

My NYC Subway photography:


The NYC Subway group on Flickr:



Link Inspiration:

Slate – What They Learned



Bobulate – No Justification Condition



Mindhacks – Going Underground



gothamist – Subway Studies


NYC subway in popular culture


Just for LOLs

Hamster on the subway:



Dude visits ALL subway stations:


Overheard in NY:



Random photos of subway & NY via iPhone: 



How kids see the subway: http://kottke.org/09/10/a-three-year-olds-view-of-the-nyc-subway


The Boys and the Subway http://niemann.blogs.nytimes.com/2008/07/01/the-boys-and-the-subway/

MTA graphic design: 



Teen hides on subway for 11 days…

Gawker rules…and some laws too…






Digital nerd. Photo taker. Pinterest addict. Coffee chugger. Dog owner. Mirror wireframer. Glasses wearer. Life observer. Grad student. New Yorker.

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One comment on “Let me hear your stories of interactions on the NYC Subway!
  1. Lana says:

    lol, your note to fix my typo had a typo in it; )

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