I still consider the amazingly complex New York
City subway to be my "home" system, even though I haven't lived
anywhere near there for over 45 years. I likely took my first
subway ride on it in
the late 1940s, before I was aware of the world around me.
But from earliest childhood that I can remember, everything about
the system fascinated me.
The IRT's "Nostrand Avenue Line" was our family's closest
subway access, and so I developed an
early loyalty to the Interborough, and with it, certain negative (although sometimes
toward the BMT and the IND. It was almost like a Dodgers
-Yankees - Giants baseball sort of thing. The baseball rivalry
and the system designations and those feelings are long
those few glorious years of late-1950s pre-teen subway riding,
before I moved away, I'd go all over, reaching into many far-off (and
sometimes unsettling) neighborhoods. Venturing past Nostrand
on the Church Avenue bus either to the Brighton Line or to the IND
became an opportunity for exploration and discovery. I pretty
much knew all the routes and transfer points on the whole system
after a while, although I couldn't ever recite all the various
service changes that took place late at night or on weekends.
I'm the width of a continent removed from New York City now, and have lost that sense of
tremendous familiarity that used to come upon me as I went through the
turnstiles. But I do
occasionally get back to the big city, and there still is that old
push and pull that grips me. The MTA is fascinating like no other
urban rail place in the country.
This photo is from the mid-1980s, and shows the outdoor Church Ave.
station on the Brighton Line. Two of the line's four tracks are