Thursday, August 20, 2009

Why I Love New York's Elevated Trains

As you might expect, the subway trains I ride are almost exclusively underground.

The express trains I take into Midtown go over the Manhattan Bridge before burrowing deep into the soil again, and that's generally the only time I see the sky while sitting in the subway.

But New York City does have a surprising number of elevated stops. At least, it's surprising to me because I never see them. I don't know for sure, but they all seem to be in Upper Manhattan, the Bronx, Queens and eastern Brooklyn-- all places I generally don't frequent.

So when I do ride an elevated train, I'm a little like a kid in a candy store. I can't stop looking out the windows-- although the view is of graffiti far more often than of a sweeping view of the Manhattan skyline.

To me, the stations themselves look like works of art, with the tangled rails and intricate metalwork suspending the trains far about the bustle of the streets. That's especially true at night, when the streetlights aren't quite bright enough to illuminate the abundant and unforgiving rust.

And on steamy nights, it's much more pleasant to wait for a train on a breezy outdoor platform rather than descend the stairs into what truly feels like the ninth circle of hell. On spring days, you might even regret the approach of the train.

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