Under New York City

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NEW YORK — In my architectural fantasies, the New York City subway is a magnificent place.

It’s all Art Deco mosaics and polished marble, and built in a crossbred style that’s one half Gilded Age and one half retro-futurism. There are columns and colonnades, newsstand pergolas and elegant staircases. There’s exposed steel, chrome and the massaging hum of electric light.

In my head, the New York City subways are an extension of Grand Central — the circulatory system for one of the world’s great palaces of modern transportation. In reality, the subways smell like old pee on the hottest day in August, and they have the architectural gravitas of a concrete outhouse.

But I still like the New York City subways, especially the mosaics that mark each train stop. It’s disappointing that so many are in such disrepair, but the chips, cracks and outright missing tiles do add a kind of dilapidated, historical charm. The mosaics look vintage, and vintage is hip right now. I would know. I own two typewriters that don’t work.

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My quintessential fantasy New York subway station exists, but it’s not in use. It’s the abandoned City Hall stop that once was the subway’s flagship terminal. It opened in 1904 and closed in 1945. Disuse forced the closure, as did the lengthening of subway trains. The City Hall station has a short platform, and its lack of popularity paired with its lack of platform put it out of business.

And now, more subway pictures from my recent New York trip.

An empty subway car.

An empty-ish subway car.

A long tunnel leading to the F train.

A long tunnel leading to the F train.

The Metropolitan Avenue stop (obviously), waiting for the G, on the way back from Williamsburg.

The Metropolitan Avenue stop (obviously), waiting for the G, on the way back from Williamsburg.

 

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