Home MTA Absurdity Breaking the news of a 70-year-old typo

Breaking the news of a 70-year-old typo

by Benjamin Kabak

brodaway It’s en vogue to dump on the MTA these days, and no one is letting actual reporting getting in the way of the fun. After all, the city’s transit agency is near-broke, suffers from inept management and is raising fares. Now, we learn that they can’t even spell the names of their own stations properly.

Ha! Right? Well, not quite. It turns out that this typo isn’t really a news story in the current sense of the word. It’s a seven-decade-old problem, but that hasn’t stopped the outrage from building. Let’s recap.

The fun started on Monday when Gothamist published a short post about the Broadway IND Crosstown stop. One of the station’s numerous tilings is out of order. Instead of saying “Broadway,” the letters read “Brodaway.”

Yesterday, The Daily News picked up this typo and reporting it as a serious news story. In doing so, Pete Donohue and Veronika Belenkaya brought this to the attention of New York City Transit officials. As we’ll soon learn, it would probably have been a better idea to let this sleeping dog lie.

Meanwhile, the madness spread with an over-the-top rant by WPIX’s Steven Bogart. He bashed the MTA for this misspelling:

When you’re riding the rails on the G line in Brooklyn, there’s a stop along the way that we New Yorkers like to call “Broadway.” The problem is the “we” doesn’t seem to include our beloved Metropolitan Transportation Authority. They’ve actually misspelled one of the most iconic street names in these United States, calling it “Brodaway” instead.

The grotesque error was spotted inside the Queens-bound G train tunnel in Williamsburg…With the MTA moving toward implementing a massive fare hike in order to plug a budget gap that they say has worsened by the global financial crisis, one could only hope some of that money will go toward spelling courses for the agency’s hundreds of employees.

People in the know were quick to debunk the News story. A lengthy Subchat thread delved into the history of this typo, and NY1 News acknowledged this history. People who grew up along the IND Crosstown line remember seeing this misspelling through the decades, and according to Kevin Walsh at Forgotten-NY, the typo has been in place since 1937.

Meanwhile, the MTA is primed to send someone to fix it. In the midst of a budget crisis, they are going to pay to fix a 72-year-old mistake that existed a good thirty years before the MTA made its ignoble debut in 1968. The cash-strapped authority is going to spend money on materials and man-hours to fix what many feel is one of the quirks of the subway system.

Talk about an overreaction. Perhaps we could let Mayor LaGuardia foot the bill for the replacement tiles. The IND Crosstown, typo and all, opened on his watch.

A photo of the misspelling in the late 1990s courtesy of Forgotten-NY.

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Josh K February 11, 2009 - 1:29 am

Lambasting 70 year old signage typos is the local equivalent to lambasting steroid using athletes by Congress during 2 wars and the run up to the economic meltdown. Dealing with issues only makes enemies of important people who donate money to politicians or buy advertising space.

News media outlets don’t report news, they just spend all day spewing out poorly researched stories that barely hide their own personal bias.
I much prefer media outlets that are upfront about their bias: “The Wall Street Journal” or “Socialist Worker” to name a few.

Benjamin Kabak February 11, 2009 - 1:31 am

You would think that if someone could put in even half the effort writing about a sensible solution to the MTA’s budget woes as they do to these red-herring stories, the public might actually wind up informed for once. Mock outrage just sells papers though, and snarky TV reports earn viewers.

Jesa McGinty-Green February 11, 2009 - 3:43 pm

Well, if anyone reported what was REALLY going on, people may actually care. What would the “leaders” do with a nation that decided to lead, not be lead? Madness, sir. They are holding us by a yoke, and dragging our intelligence through the mud.

Anyway. I like Brodaway:) I think it’s quaint. Uggh-before you know it, historical preservationists will just swoop down and make them change it back. Just another lawsuit. Just more money down the subway line.

Alon Levy February 11, 2009 - 5:14 pm

The most depressing thing is that the Journal isn’t so biased. Its editorial department consists of propagandists and idiots, but the news coverage is balanced and way more insightful than any other US paper, even on issues like poverty and economic inequality.

J. Mork February 11, 2009 - 9:04 am

Does the WPIX guy even realize that this is not Broadway in Manhattan? Haha.

It would be sad to “fix” it. It’s an institution.

Wesley February 11, 2009 - 11:19 am

I hope they keep it the way it is

rhywun February 11, 2009 - 12:09 pm

Ugh, fix it. It’s embarrassing.

Update: Brodaway Goes Big Time February 11, 2009 - 12:23 pm

[…] I’ve created and monster and will probably be single-handedly be responsible for a fare hike. Sorry about […]

Kid Twist February 11, 2009 - 12:52 pm

Leave the tiles. Change the name of the street.

James D February 11, 2009 - 4:45 pm

So (who) are you on Subchat?

Benjamin Kabak February 12, 2009 - 2:37 am

I post rarely, but when I do, it’s under the handle BenYankee. That was my AOL address once upon a time.

A-B-C with the MTA :: Second Ave. Sagas | A New York City Subway Blog February 18, 2009 - 1:44 pm

[…] and its general overall spelling ability. Last week, New York City Transit came under fire for a 70-year-old typo at Broadway along the IND Crosstown line. Since then, savvy straphangers have noticed misspellings […]

editorialista February 19, 2009 - 2:13 pm

Now, remembering not to call the kettle black – – FUNNY how you are following misspellings and write, “People in the know WHERE quick to debunk the News story.” – where Clearly you meant to write WERE. Where are the editors when you need them?

Tony March 1, 2009 - 1:35 pm

A nice read, thanks.


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