It was a long and arduous process, but over the decades, the New York City subway eventually adopted Helvetica as the font of the NYCT system. The really classic mosaic designs of the IRT system are (to my mind) more beautiful, but for sans serif fonts, nothing beats helvetica.

(I may be biased – helvetica is also the principal font on this site)

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call box


I’m taking a short, three week street photography class just for kicks, and also because it’s a good way to force myself out of the house during this dark, depressing, apocalyptic January.

So of course, the first class was during a bit of a snowstorm, which drove us into the nearest subway station for shelter.

Side view of one of the many mysterious locked call boxes on the platform for fire department and police use. Put in place before anyone could do something like make a cellphone call from several stories below ground (a feat that can be accomplished in every station in NYC as of…nine days ago).

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Subway traffic signal. We are not exactly using cutting edge technology in our 100+ year-old system for moving millions of people around on a daily basis. I marvel daily at our ability to function.

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signs and statues (and stuff)


As with any new, expensive toy, I’ve been carrying the new camera with me almost every day. It helps that it’s significantly lighter than the old one. I’ve also been trying to challenge myself by only using my prime 25mm lens for a little while (equivalent to a 50mm on a full frame camera) rather than one of the zooms that I also got. Don’t get me wrong – I find the zooms to be incredibly useful devices, but there’s something…elementary about having to go back to basics a little bit and work with a camera that that doesn’t move. If I wan’t to get closer to something, I actually have to physically move myself (Cropping afterwards has its own limitations).

Apparently I’ve spent the last few days focused on signs (one of my favorite things), and really noticing all of the municipal “works” we’ve got going on around here. and coffee of course.

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I took the new camera out over the holiday weekend last weekend as well as all week back and forth to work. Here are some random photos from my wandering (specific pics from Coney Island still to come).

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instagram update | october through february


This is a massive photography catchup, going back to october. I didn’t post a lot of photos in general that month, so i figured I would wait another month, and then things just got away from me. And as with anything, the longer one waits to catch up, the harder it gets to actually do the work. So now that February has ended, I’m biting the bullet today and getting everything through the end of the latest month up. pre-spring cleaning, shall we say. As always, this wouldn’t be a roundup of my instagram without coffee and cats. plus subway kvetching, pretty much the entirety of winter this year (of which there wasn’t much), and some more baking experiments.

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instagram update | september


september was a lot of apples, apple pie, and in a strange irony or coincidence, both madonna (the sacrilegious one) and the pope showing up in town. and other random assorted stuff. In an even stranger turn of events, no cats.

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instagram update | july and august


I never got around to posting my instagram pics from july, so I’m posting everything from july and august together, now that we’re heading into labor day weekend. Pics include my normal subway related fare, snapshots from my trip to wyoming and mini trip to the botanical garden, the cat (of course), and some culture by way of the most anticipated, awesome show on broadway right now.

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nyc subway | columbus circle (a/b/c/d trains)


Back to columbus circle, this time for the A/B/C/D train platform. These trains were part of the IND line, and were built later than the IRT 1 train previously discussed, and Columbus Circle is one of the major transfer points between different lines in the system. The platform itself, being part of the IND and newer, doesn’t have mosaics that are as interesting as the IRT platform, but they do have useful, large “59” tiles identifying the station.

In addition, this side of the station, at the mezzanine level, includes a large colorful mosaic by Sol LeWitt titled “Whirls and Twirls”.

This station also highlights one of the unique features of the New York City Subway system – the NYC Subway is (I believe) the only system in the world that runs multiple different train lines along the same tracks. you can see that in this station, which has 4 lines running along 2 tracks. The “color coding” that was instituted when the systems were all merged were to help identify where trains shared “core” tracks – So the B/D are orange, and run south of columbus circle along 6th avenue (and are joined by the F/M trains), and the A/C are blue and run along 8th avenue (where they are joined by the E train below 50th street from queens). But north of columbus circle, the A and D go on the express track, while the B and C run on the same local track for the length of central park west until they split again after 145th street. The color coding gives the impression that they are the “same” train, but if you actually look at a map, you can see that each individually numbered train often starts and terminates in a completely different place, and there are places where different “colors” essentially merge for sections of the map. In places like London and Paris, you may see a local and express train run together, a particular line that has two “branches” where it will split in two potential destinations near its end, but I think NY is the only (or was the first) system that is designed to run multiple lines on multiple tracks. This also makes the system surprisingly flexible (given its age and funding issues) and able to divert trains to different tracks during construction and emergencies.

The only caveat – you cannot run an BMT train car on an IRT track. the IRT trains were narrower than the BMT trains. The tracks are the same width, but the tunnels are not, so BMT trains are too wide to fit in an IRT tunnel.

Station opened: September 10, 1932
Original system: IND
Trains: A/B/C/D
Source/More info: Wikipedia

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nyc subway | bleecker street


Bleecker street station used to be a standalone station, but relatively recently it underwent a fairly massive reconstruction in order to connect it properly to the Broadway-Lafayette complex, allowing transfers in both directions to the IND B/D/F/M lines. The construction of this transfer point was also cause to install some modern artwork – namely the “Hive” – a neon lighted honeycomb light structure above the new escalators that allow people to transfer from one platform to the other.

The Bleecker street platform itself is fairly classic – with some of the more beautiful original terra cotta detailing (some of which is often featured in advertising, television and movies, both because it is quite pretty and because it is a signifier of a classically “hip” part of New York City). According to Wikipedia, there were other more traditional station name tile mosaics (similar to other IRT line stations), but these have been removed. I don’t know if there’s a plan to reinstall them or if this is a permanent removal.

Station opened: October 27, 1904
Original system: IRT
Trains: 6
Source/More info: Wikipedia

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