A Call To March On Fox
Monday, November 22, 2004
When you first enter the subway system, if you are entering at a local station, there will usually be two separate entrances, generally on opposite sides of a street or avenue. Note the signs there and make sure you pick the entrance that gets you to trains going in the right direction you want. For instance, a sign at the entrance might say “Uptown 1 and 9 trains” — or — “Downtown 1 and 9 trains.” One of these entrances will be on one side of the street and the other will be on the other side of the street. Check the map and pick the entrance with the sign that applies to your travel needs. Otherwise you’ll be going on the correct line but in the wrong direction and will then have to wait till you get to an express stop, get off the train and find a train going in the opposite direction. Of course, if you are entering the subway system at an express stop, you don’t have to worry about this. Because all the trains of that train line, in both directions, are available there at express stops. At an express station any entrance will get you to any train that stops at that station, regardless of which direction it is headed in. Again, when entering a local station, the entrance on one side of the street will get you to trains going in one direction. The entrance on the other side of the street will get you to trains going in the opposite direction. If it’s a local station note the signs at the entrance carefully before entering at that entrance. If it says the right train you want but the wrong direction, you’ll need to cross the street and take the other entrance.
Again, if you are on a local train and you want to reverse your direction (not that you would unless you screwed up) you will need to take the local train to the next express stop, since there you will find the walkways that allow you to cross over from the uptown direction to the downtown direction (or to reverse from going eastward to going westward, if that train line runs east-west).
You usually won’t need to take a staircase to switch from a local to an express track going in the same direction on the same line because they are usually right next to each other and accessible to each other. A local train is usually against the wall of the station and the express track is usually a few feet across the waiting platform more into the middle of the station. That is, if you are in an express station, both the local and express tracks for trains of a given line going in the direction you want to take will be right next to each other, separated only by a single, relatively narrow waiting platform. Which makes it extremely easy to switch from a local train to an express train or vice versa at an express station.
Why are some New York subway trains “express” trains?
Express trains stop at fewer stations so they go faster. Take a local train until you get to a station with express service (called an “express station”). Get off the local train and wait for the express train (usually on the same waiting platform, generally on a separate track on the other side of the same waiting platform — like, maybe 20 feet from where you got off the local train). Take the express train for most of your journey. It will go very fast. If your exact destination is only a local stop (where express trains don’t stop) finish your subway trip by switching back to the local track at an express station just ahead of your destination. You’ll get there a lot quicker if you make use of the express trains. Depending on conditions you can sometimes cut your travel time in half. Generally express and local trains run side by side through many of the same tunnels and you can often see the other train if you look out your subway car window. But the express train skips a lot of stations for speed because it runs on a track that is separate from the local train track. That is, in most parts of the subway system, express trains have their own exclusive tracks. In the station signs at each track will tell you what trains run on that track. Again, local trains are usually against the wall of the station and express trains are usually toward the middle of the station and not against any wall.
Aggressive train switching to make use of express trains is highly recommended in order to shorten your travel time tremendously. The only time you don’t want to make aggressive use of train switching is late at night when trains run much less frequently. In that case, if you happen to be on a local train that will get you to your destination, stay on it and don’t switch to the express train along the way, since you might have a long wait on a platform till the express train shows up. But that’s only relevant late at night, like maybe 11 pm.
(If you are in a local station depending on which one, you may notice an extra track there that does not run past a pedestrian waiting platform so no one on a train running on that track would be able to get off even if that train stopped in that station, which it doesn’t. So you may see a train come through on that track, without stopping in that local station. That’s the express train. It rushes right through the local station but doesn’t stop and can’t stop because its track is not adjacent to any waiting pedestrian platform. Actually, in most local stations you may see two express tracks, one for each direction, which nobody can get to in that station because they are not adjacent to waiting platforms. Whatever you do, don’t try to walk out there or onto any track. The electric rails are at ankle level and they are very deadly. By the way, many waiting platforms, which are generally several feet above the track, have abrasive materials at the edge of the platform to make it harder to slip off the platform onto the track. Don’t let this give you a false sense of confidence. On rare occasions people have been killed falling off and touching the third rail. Stay away from the edge of the platform until your train comes in. Native New Yorkers are completely at ease about this and know how to be safe but if you are from out of town, be careful and watch your step on the waiting platform. Remember, it’s safer than air and auto travel and it’s definitely the greatest subway system in the world. All the other subway systems in the world are just toys by comparison.)
You can see on the “pdf” subway map that under the name of each station is a list of the numbered and lettered trains that stop at that station. For instance, you can see that the A, C and E trains are all blue line trains. Along the blue line you can see blue circles with white letters in them, A, C and E. You’ll see those blue circles with the white A, C and E letters just south of the blue line 14th Street station. As you note the trains that stop at each station along that blue line you will see that the A train does not stop at all the stations the C and E trains stop at, just some. The A, C and E trains all stop at the white circle (or white dot) express stops. But the A train does not stop at the other blue line stops, since they are merely local stops (denoted by a black dot or circle). From this you can see that the A train is the express train on the blue line. Also note that a detailed table in the lower right section of the “pdf” subway map tells you exactly which trains (by letter or number) are local trains and which are express trains. The table also gives much other important information. Incidentally, for purposes of clarity and simplicity, we are speaking of train lines here by their color on the map. However, as you can see in that table, each train/route actually has a name such as the (red) “3 Seventh Avenue Express.” Conductors don’t refer to a train line by its color although it is very helpful to refer to it that way here for explanatory purposes.
Subway service is very frequent in New York except very late at night when there are longer waits for trains (maybe every 20 minutes very late at night, depending). For most hours of the day and evening trains run very frequently. There are no schedules. Just every few minutes another train arrives on each track.
Also note that in some cases there is more than one train on the same track. For instance, take a look at the green line. It runs north-south along Lexington Avenue on the east side of Manhattan. You will see both in the table at the lower right corner of the map and also by studying the green line, that two trains on that line are express trains, the 4 and the 5. (The 6 train on the green line is a local train.) The map doesn’t show it actually, but for much of their journey, the 4 and 5 trains actually run on the same track. People may generally refer to them both as the “Lexington Avenue Express,” and in fact, that is how both the 4 and 5 are referred to in the table at the lower right. One is called “4 Lexington Av Express” and the other is called “5 Lexington Av Express.” In fact, all through Manhattan, both of those express trains, the 4 and 5, stop in the same express stations on the same exact track and there is no discernable difference between them. However, if you follow the 4 and 5 lines south and east all the way into Brooklyn or far north into the Bronx, you will see that out there the 4 and 5 trains separate and follow different routes. (Otherwise there would be no need to give the two trains two separate numbers. Only their slightly different routes makes that necessary.) So depending on where you want to go, not just the line, direction, track and fact that the train is a local or express, is important, but the number (or letter) of the train/route as well.
Incidentally, inside almost every subway car (as well as in most stations) there is a complete subway map on the wall. Also note that for added safety you can sit in the car with the conductor, usually at the center of the train. He can answer your questions. If you’re not sure where the conductor is, lean your head out the car door just before the doors close at a station and either up the train or down the train you will see the conductor lean his head out to check the train just before the doors close.
As mentioned, on the subway map, stations signified by white circles/dots have both local and express trains stopping there. (They’re called “express stops.”) Stations signified by black circles or dots are stations where only local trains stop. (They’re called “local stops.”) Many subway stations have numerous different subway lines running through them in different colors. If you want to switch lines, get off there and walk underground to the other line to make the switch. Signs in the station will direct you to the other lines there.
There are also very thin black lines connecting the white and/or black circles in some places on the map. This means that it is two separate stations but they were close enough to each other that the builders of the subway system made underground walkway tunnels between them so you can switch from one line to the other. These underground strolls aren’t very long.
You can do all of this train and line switching and underground subway travel without ever paying a second fare. You could ride around the subways all over the city for hours, even days, on a single fare, just so long as you don’t exit the system or fall asleep (in which case a police officer will probably kick you out of the system).
Be sure the subway train you take has the correct number or letter on the front and side that the map says you need to take or you could wind up taking the wrong route.
HERE IS AN EXAMPLE OF HOW YOUR TRIP MIGHT PROCEED:
Let’s say you are coming to the city by Amtrak train. Your ticket will probably say “New York — Penn Station.” When you arrive in Penn Station, come up a level (still underground) and look for signs directing you to the subway system. Pay the fare for a subway ride at the ticket booth or buy a subway pass from one of the vending machines. (Ticket booths also provide printed maps for free and they are clear and contain all the information in the “pdf” version, although you can’t enlarge them like you can with the “pdf” version. Also, sometimes the ticket booths are out of maps. Try to get them to give you more than one, “for a friend” or “for a relative” so you can share it with another activist who may need it.)
So if you are arriving in the city by Amtrak at Penn Station, that means that the subway line there is the one shown on the subway map in blue (the blue line) and the subway station is labeled “34 St Penn Station.” That is the nearest subway station to Amtrak’s Penn Station. And in fact it’s right there just a short walk underground from the Amtrak Penn Station to the subway station. So go through the subway turnstile using your subway pass. (It’s a paper pass but has an electronic strip on it and you swipe it through the turnstile. If you purchased a multiple ride pass that information will be on the electronic strip. Save the pass in your wallet for additional rides until the pass runs out. Mentally keep track of how many rides you bought on that pass and how many you have left because the pass doesn’t tell you. It just runs out when it runs out.)
When you get past the turnstiles into the train station, look for signs referring to the train you want to take. Note that on the map “34 St Penn Station” is on the blue-colored line. You will also see further down the blue line some blue circles with white letters in them, A, C, and E (again, trains are labeled with numbers or letters. “The 7 Train,” “The E Train,” etc.). This means that along that portion of the blue line the A, C and E trains run, each in both directions. Now let your eye follow upward (northward) along the blue line. You will see that the blue line splits into two blue lines, one of which continues further north past a huge green rectangle. That’s Central Park. (It says so on the subway map.)
(New York’s famed Central Park is one of the great marvels of that dang, blasted socialist urban planning. New York urban planners did it all to persecute Rush Limbaugh. With its endless array of bridges, parks and mass transit, New York is one of the most heavily planned cities in the world. A living monument to the genius of liberalism. Poor Rush. He can never get a break. Just when you’re trying to ruin the world minding your lonesome, along comes: A liberal. That’s probably why Rush is on drugs. Anyway, the way Central Park was created and modeled is brilliant and legendary. Even the roads running across it are set deep below ground level so that in the park you don’t hear or see the traffic unless you are literally on the edge of the road.)
So immediately to the left of Central Park you’ll see the blue line running. You will see there two blue circles with white letters in them, A and C. This means that after the blue line split in two, the portion of the blue line running up past Central Park carries A and C trains. But not the E train anymore since it split off eastward. You can also tell this by examining each individual station in that part of the blue line (left of Central Park), because by each individual station on the “pdf” and paper maps it tells you which trains stop at each individual stop. So you’ll see that the E train is the blue line train that doesn’t go up there by Central Park and instead splits off and heads east.
You can also see an orange line right next to the blue line there left of Central Park, with orange letters B and D. That means that the A, C, B and D trains all stop at the stations along that part of the map, but check each station there since some of those trains function as express trains and won’t stop until they reach the 125 St station (north of Central Park), which you can see by the white circle is an express stop.
(Incidentally, you’ll notice in this general area of the subway map tiny symbols looking like a black airplane on a yellow background. Some of these have a designation like “M60.” That’s a bus that goes to an airport, such as LaGuardia Airport, and there are also special subway trains that go to an airport. Understand that the little black and yellow airplane insignia does not mean that the airport is there, only that a bus or special subway there can take you to the airport. LaGuardia and JFK airports are far to the east and they are not in Manhattan.)
Now, notice the “59 St Columbus Circle” subway station. Just as an example. (Columbus Circle is a big famous motor vehicle traffic circle in the city at the lower left corner of Central Park.) The “59 St Columbus Circle” station also has a white circle. That means that that station is an express station too. You can see that blue, orange and red train lines all run through that station. You will notice that really there are two circles there, one black and one white. So technically it’s two separate stations, one express and one local. But there’s a little black line connecting both circles. That means there is a short underground walkway connecting the two stations so you really have full access to both stations. “Officially” it’s two separate stations and probably one was built long before the other since different subway lines were built originally in different eras. In this case both stations have the same name, “59 St Columbus Circle.” In some cases two different but connected stations will have different names and be aware of that because when you get to that station the signs you see in the station as your train comes in will have only one of those station names, not the other one. But in the case of “59 St Columbus Circle” the red, orange and blue lines all have some trains that stop at a station, called “59 St Columbus Circle.” And although it is technically more than one station, since there is a thin black line connecting a white circle and a black circle there, in real experience it is really just one giant station with passageways and staircases connecting up several different trains that stop there for all three train lines.
The actual layout of that station is enormous. It has multiple levels and you can walk from one waiting platform to another, all labeled with signs directing you and telling you which trains stop on which tracks. This is typical of many subway stations in New York. Don’t be overwhelmed by the enormous size of some stations. Some are like Xanadu’s Castle but they’re just stations with several lines running through them. Just follow the signs for the next train you need to get. And if you want, say, the “uptown A” train (the A train that heads north), follow the signs in the station that direct you to the “uptown A” train, not the “downtown A” train.
Now, as mentioned, along the left side of Central Park there are the blue A and C trains (although the only stop by Central Park that the A train makes is at “59 St Columbus Circle” because the A train is an express train). But on the left side of Central Park there is no mention of the blue E train anymore. As mentioned, that’s because from where the blue line splits into two blue lines, the E train goes east and on across the East river and into the borough of Queens. You can see the letter E clearly along that eastern branch of the blue line.
Now, notice that the E train also stops at “34 St Penn Station.” Consequently, since the E train (as we stated earlier) is an express train, and since we see now that it stops at “34 St Penn Station,” therefore, “34 St Penn Station” must be an express stop. We know this also because the “34 St Penn Station” stop has a white circle. Now, imagine that you left the Amtrak Penn Station (Amtrak Railroad) and then you took the E train subway train in the “34 St Penn Station” subway station. Imagine that you took it “Uptown,” that is, north. You could stay on that train without any switching all the way to the “5 Av/53 St” station and get off and get out of the subway system entirely. You would now be at 53rd Street, which is only about 5 blocks north of Rupert Murdoch’s offices (since that building is between 47th and 48th Streets). You would also have to walk a block west since that station is at 5th Avenue (as its name implies) and Murdoch’s offices are on 6th Avenue. (Enlarge the map enough and you will see much information about streets and avenues in very fine gray print.)
Now, if you want to get even closer by subway (less walking), here’s what to do. Get off the E train one stop earlier. That’s called the “7 Av” station. SWITCH train lines in that station to the orange line B or D train. Signs must say that that particular train is heading east, south or downtown. That is, you want the “downtown B” train or the “downtown D” train. Take either one. Take that one stop — to the “47-50 Sts/Rockefeller Ctr” station as it’s called. Notice that it also says there in fine gray lettering that the orange line there runs along 6th Avenue — Murdoch’s avenue. And we also said that Murdoch’s offices are located on 6th Avenue between 47th Street and 48th Street. So if you get out at that station — “47-50 Sts/Rockefeller Ctr” station — you are practically spitting distance from the building in which are Murdoch and Co.’s offices. And you only changed subway trains once. And yes, the offices of Murdoch and Co. are in a building that is part of Rockefeller Center, although on the outer edge of Rockefeller Center, facing 6th Avenue. (Such nice company. The Rockefellers were illegally shipping oil to Hitler during World War II.)
I just looked at the calendar. Today is November 22nd, the anniversary of the Kennedy assassination. It’s almost noon. Kennedy was shot at 12:30. My previous blog, closely related to this one and mentioned above, was finished on the evening of November 9, almost to the hour of the anniversary of Kristallnacht, the “Night of Broken Glass” — the start of the Holocaust in 1938. Not my intention in either case. But it would seem that history is reminding us of lessons past.