Archive for Subway Romance

The Transit Museum is hosting a subway-themed Valentine's Day Party tonight. (Click to enlarge)

In the history of New York culture, the subways have often been viewed as a romantic spot. In On The Town, for instance, one of the sailors on leave falls in love with a woman on a Miss Subway poster. In Sliding Doors, a movie based in London, Gwyneth Platrow’s love life changes based upon the people she meets on the subway. Today, the craigslist Missed Connections are dominated by stories of fleeting glances exchanged on a train and of men too shy to approach women and vice versa.

As today is the day of love, the New York Transit Museum is getting on the act. From 6-8 p.m. today in their Brooklyn Heights location, the museum is hosting a Missed Connections party. “Has someone slipped through your fingers that you’ve tried to find on craiglist?” the museume’s flyer asks. Head to the museum in an effort to find them.

Meanwhile, at Transportation Nation, Jim O’Grady talks to a few people who have found love underground. His piece is a heartwarming one for Valentine’s Day, and it highlights how, often, the toughest part of spotting someone cute on the subway can be saying hello. We’re so conditioned to avoid contact with strangers on the subway that even a simple greeting can be a tall order. Today, take the plunge: If you see someone, say something. If you’re too shy to talk, perhaps they’ll be at the Transit Museum tonight.

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I’m talking off early this afternoon for the July 4th weekend, and I’ll be away until Monday. You can find the weekend service advisories at the bottom of this post or click here to jump to them.

Last night, on my way back from dinner in Manhattan, an elderly lady got on the train at Borough Hall and didn’t realize she was going the wrong way. When we pulled into Hoyt St., she asked me if she was on a Brooklyn-bound train, and then she wanted to know the best way to switch to train back to Manhattan. At Nevins St. and Atlantic Ave., she had the choice of navigating a few flights of stairs, but she preferred to transfer across the platform at Grand Army Plaza. I helped her with these directions, and she thanked me as I left.

While getting her on the way, I didn’t have a chance to talk to her about anything else, but now and then, if the opportunity arises, I’ll find myself in conversation with strangers on the trains. I’ve seen celebrities and friends; I’ve met strangers on the train. Mostly, I ride in silence, reading a book or relaxing, but the trains provide us with that space to meet someone. We’re all in it together after all.

A handful of recent stories about connections on a train struck me as amusing. Michael Grynbaum in his Off the Rails column for City Room found that most of the Craigs List Missed Connections that mention the subway take place along the L train. I can’t wait for the “Hipsters in Love” movie to come out. A few years ago, I wondered why people don’t find more romance on the subways and concluded that we mostly distrust strangers we find talking to us on the subways.

There is, it seems a cure for that. Enter Submate, the subway social networking site. Still in its infancy, the site is designed to connect people who share all or parts of the same commute. WPIX profiled Submate a few weeks ago. I wonder if that could take off. Who wouldn’t want a little companionship on a sluggish morning commute?

Finally, Good Magazine asked its Twitter and Facebook followers a very simple question: Who’s the most interesting person you’ve met on public transportation? Yesterday, they published some answers, and I enjoyed reading about riders who meet and befriend strangers. From the crazies to the friendlies, all types of riders are represented. You never know who — or what — you might find on the train.

After the jump, this week’s service advisories. Read More→

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Transit Romance

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I’m on vacation for the next week, but since New York’s subways never shut down, neither will Second Ave. Sagas. I’ve enlisted the help of a few bloggers to help keep things fresh around here. Today’s guest post comes to us from Rebecca Aronauer, keeper of the Raronauer’ed blog.

Perhaps the greatest fantasy for any New Yorker is to fall in love on the subway. Who hasn’t checked out someone across the aisle, espied them reading your favorite book and have your heart skip a beat? To think: To have a train line and Philip Roth in common. This must be the real thing.

But like rent control, this New York dream is just that, a dream. What if a stranger actually approached you on the subway? It would be kind of weird. And even when strangers do find each other on the subway—with some help from the internet — true love takes more than a meet-cute.

But if there’s any romance to be had on the subway, it’s falling in love with yourself. Between work, family and friends, the subway is the true New Yorker’s chance to be alone. We’re hurried people, and it’s fitting that we find downtime traveling. That’s why tourists and packs of teenagers traveling together are so annoying: They’re violating the first rule of subway etiquette, which is to entertain yourself quietly.

Of course this statue is only in effect on weekdays. On the weekends, it’s perfectly acceptable to travel in groups, or late at night, in pairs. On the way back home, perhaps too inebriated from the night out to do anything but people watch, who hasn’t felt a little sadness when seeing couples share the ride home together? Like our small apartments, riding the subway alone is a reality New Yorkers must accept. And we can only make the best of it with iPod solitaire, romance novels and daydreaming about the person who just got on.

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Finding love on the subway

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Maybe there’s love to be found on the subway after all. (Photo by flickr user your pal Matt)

When Patrick Moberg set eyes upon the cute girl sitting across from him, he shared an experience with every New York male: He fell in love with the cute girl on the subway. As we know, Moberg was too shy to talk to Camille Hayton, and so he set up a Web site. Boy meets girl; boy sets up Web site; boy gets girl.

At the time, the media reported this story as though Moberg’s experiences were somehow unique. He had the guts to post his subway crush on a Web site; let’s get him on Good Morning, America. Of course, as anyone knows, Moberg is not alone. The Craigslist Missed Connections list is chock full o’ subway stories. And that is where we enter these musings on subway romances.

The subways are the great irony of the New York City dating scene. Single folk in New York would rather subject themselves to the pain of trying to find a date in a crowded bar or club than talk to that cute stranger they see everyday on the subway. The person in the club is bound to be just as unhinged as the early-morning straphanger heading to work. But at least you have two things in common with your fellow subway riders: You both ride the same train, and you both have jobs. That must count for something.

It would be easy to strike up a conversation with the guy in the suit or the girl with the curly hair, right? You see each other every day. You ride the same train at the same time; you get on the same set of doors at the same stop; and one of you must know at which stop the other gets off. Just take the plunge.

But it’s just not that easy, right? We live in an insular world on the subway. It’s a means of transportation, and we like to stay anonymous in the train. The people who ride the 2 with you everyday from 96th St to Chelsea, who are they? We see the same people on the same train day after day and never say anything.

Instead, on the trains, we are hide behind our books, our magazines, our iPods, our sleep. Why? It’s an ideal social situation to meet someone different. But the subways remind us that New York is very, very big. While we may see the same few people everyday if we’re on the same train at the same time, we also see hundreds of people once and then never again. It’s a bit daunting, and when a stranger breaks that code of silence, we have to acknowledge the thousands and millions of people we never will know or see again.

It doesn’t have to be like this. Look at those Missed Connections. This guy had an easy opening; the woman wanted wanted him to talk to her, it seems. This guy just feels dumb. This girl leaves a vague message on Craigslist and won’t talk to her crush while he reads The Blind Watchmaker.

Imagine how nicer New York would be if we started talking to the people who caught our eyes in the subway. Maybe just a friendly “hullo” to break the ice would suffice. You never know what might happen, and I’m sure it’s more successful than the myriad frustrations expressed in Craigslist. After all, as the MTA is wont to remind us, if you see something, say something.

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As the subway romance turns

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Remember the wide-eyed innocence during the early days of the Moberg-Hayton Love on the 5 Train story? Well, after a few weeks of speculation and rumors of a movie deal later, Matt Elzweig at the New York Press weighs in with a piece that examines the movers and shakers behind the subway romance. It sounds like Mr. Moberg wasn’t as earnest as he seemed at first, and unsurprisingly, the folks involved are very good at gaining attention for themselves. A few of this tale’s principles even conveniently forgot to mention how they knew each other. It’s a Web 2.0 world, and we just ride the subways in it. [New York Press]

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Moberg heads to Hollywood

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Anyone else wary of the way this whole Moberg-Hayton subway romance is shaking down? Was it all just a publicity stunt? Despite promising never to talk about it in public again, Moberg and his Australian belle have appeared on the morning TV shows, and the media-savvy Internet Romeo is now shopping the movie rights to his story. For a budding graphics designer, Moberg sure is getting a lot of free press. [Portfolio via Gothamist]

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Love found on the 5 train

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Yesterday, I tugged on some heart strings with this tale about a 20-something on the 5 train trying to find his true. While my sister thought it was “too sappy,” I’m happy to report that this story has a happy ending. Patrick Moberg has updated his Website with the news that he found her. A friend of this girl’s found his Website and recognized the description. But, he says, there will be no more updates. So someone who’s Facebook friends with Moberg should let the world know when he updates his relationship status. Or anyone who works at BlackBook – the employer of the subway crush – and knows Camille Hayton (fun Facebook stalking here) should find out the story.

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The exciting text message alert news is going to have to wait because we, folks, have a Beatles sighting. An MTA board member has been spotted by the British tabloids canoodling with none other than Sir Paul McCartney. Scandalous, I know.

The lucky lady in question is Nancy Shevell, a 2001 appointee of then-Governor George Pataki. Shevell, a leading northeast transportation executive, is the Chair of the Capital Construction/Planning and Real Estate Committee. That’s right; as Sewell Chan noted on Cityroom, Sir Paul’s latest flame is responsible for overseeing the first stages of the construction of the Second Ave. Subway.

Chan brings us more on this pressing story:

While the New York tabloids describe Ms. Shevell as married, her husband, Bruce A. Blakeman, a prominent Republican lawyer and a member of the board of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, said in an e-mail message: “I am legally separated from Nancy. The separation is amicable and mutual.”

The Sun, a British tabloid that is part of Rupert Murdoch’s News Corporation, reported that Ms. Shevell, 47, and Mr. McCartney, 65, spent last weekend together in the Hamptons. According to The Sun, the two ate at an East Hampton restaurant on Friday, visited each other’s mansions on Saturday, and embraced before sharing a breakfast on Sunday at a cafe.

The Sun, for what its worth, ran with the utterly tasteless headline, “Macca and the married cracker.” Murdoch’s mag reports that McCartney was shopping for lingerie before meeting up with his new paramour. Maybe we didn’t need to know that. Scotland’s Daily Record reports that the pair kissed in the shadows of Paul’s pick-up truck.

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Finding love on the 5 train

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Ride the 5 train. While this branch of the Lexington Ave. express may only be worth a C-minus in the eyes of its riders, you’re bound to find love in some form or another.

We start on Sunday night with true love or at least a fairly strong infatuation. At around 9:30 p.m. on the 4th of November, Patrick Moberg, a recent RIT alum and a professional illustrator, was minding his own business on a Bowling Green-bound 5 train when his eyes fell upon a beautiful girl sitting across from him. Like millions of New Yorkers, he instantly developed a Subway Crush. But this was no ordinary subway crush. This was a crush on the girl of his dreams.

Like everyone else on the subway, Moberg was too shy, too hesitant to talk to this girl writing in her journal. When he finally worked up the courage to do it, she was lost in the crowd of departing passengers at Bowling Green. Like any tech-savvy 20-something, Moberg went out and created a Website whose sole purpose is to find this girl. Moberg, who at,, appears rather hipster-ish, claims he is “not insane” even though he has reproduced online an annotated drawing of himself and the girl.

Of course, he’s not insane. He, like every other single male in New York, falls in love with the first beautiful girl on the subway. That’s just how it works. As Jen Carlson at Gothamist noted, “expect to see a rotating cast of illustrated girls he’s fallen for underground.”

For his part, Moberg’s milking the story for all its worth. He has a video up on Vimeo in which he discusses why he didn’t just talk to the girl of his dreams. And he mentions that CNN wants to interview him. He’ll take his 15 minutes anyway he can, and if the girl hasn’t heard about this yet, she and her friends must live in a black hole. I’m rooting for him. It’s endearing, and anything that’s mercilessly mocked on Gawker should end well.

Meanwhile, if true love on the 5 train isn’t your style, there’s always sketchy folks riding the subway. On Monday, two men – or perverts, in the parlance of this article in The Post – were arrested for groping two women in unrelated incidents. One victim was 39; the other was 14; and both suspects have prior arrests and jail time on their records. Jossip is not surprised by this news, but seriously, folks, can’t we just stick to cute infatuations? No need to get all touchy on the subways.

For those of you interested, the full video is embedded after the jump.

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So this whole condom thing, it’s good public health policy. In an age where those in the White House preach an ineffective abstinence- only program, New York City is encouraging safe sex by distributing millions of free condoms to New Yorkers. Since people will always have sex anyway, those in charge may do their best to make sure it’s safe sex.

But then why is this city considering putting an end to this program? Well, for all the wrong reasons, it seems.

The Kaiser Network, in its daily HIV/AIDS report, notes that the subway-themed condom giveaway may be in danger:

New York City Health Commissioner Thomas Frieden on Monday said that the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene could discontinue a condom-distribution program if it is found that the program is not increasing safer-sex practices among high-risk groups…The health department in January approved a $1.57 million contract to deliver Ansell Healthcare’s Lifestyle condoms and packets of lubricants to organizations and venues in the city to help curb the spread of HIV and other sexually transmitted infections, as well as to prevent unplanned pregnancies…

Frieden said that it is unclear whether the condoms are reaching target groups, such as men who have sex with men. “If we find launching this brand didn’t increase at all safe sex among the groups at highest risk, we may stop it entirely,” Frieden said.

So the Department of Health may end the promotion all together because they aren’t totally sure the condoms are reaching the intended targets? The logic behind this decision is completely backwards.

Right now, AIDS awareness efforts and other similar public health campaigns are neglected and underfunded. While the City has come under religious scrutiny for this program, the condom giveaway benefits everyone. It brings STD awareness and safe sex practices to the forefront, and we shouldn’t be giving up on it just because it’s not reaching the right population niche.

Refine the campaign, I say. If it’s supposed to target sexually active gay men, tailor the campaign in such a way to reach them. Don’t just throw in the towel because everyone wants to own a subway-themed condom, the greatest free novelty item produced by the City. Hopefully, these condoms will live another day.

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