New York: pop culture subway stations
No Pants Day, with shirt but without pants!
A tradition dating back to the 1990s and born in Austin, Texas, No Pants Day allows everyone to enjoy the freedom of living without pants, wearing their best underwear. Followed in many Western countries, in New York this day is particularly important. Celebrated on January 12 in 2020, many people take the metro without pants, for their greatest pleasure. The opportunity to discover 10 pop culture metro stations on this day.
World Trade Center Subway Station
In DMZ: The Five Nations of New York, fifteen years after the adventures, a tourist walks through New York according to the memoirs written by Matty Roth. His journey begins at the World Trade Center Subway Station.
The history of this station is eventful. First opened in 1909 at the Hudson terminal, it was razed to the ground to allow for the construction of the twin towers. A new station was established in 1971 before being destroyed in the attacks of September 11, 2001. Because of its key role in New York’s transportation network, a temporary station was set up in 2003. Today it boasts a new architectural complex designed by Santiago Calatrava Valls, completed in 2016. In addition to its splendid original shape, its immaculate white and its shape reminiscent of a bird flying from a child’s hand, the Oculus is home to a huge shopping mall.
Brooklyn Bridge – City Hall Station
In The Fantastic Animals, the historic City Hall station, opened in 1904, was recreated in the studio for the final battle scene and the discovery of Grindelwald (Johnny Depp). Although it has been closed since 1945, when trains became longer and required larger platforms, it is still possible to discover it today. To do so, take Line 6 to its terminus “Brooklyn Bridge – City Hall”. Don’t get off the subway. After a short break, he will turn around in this sublime abandoned station which you can then admire briefly despite the darkness. Alternatively, the New York Transit Museum offers several times a year to visit the site in much better conditions for $50. But demand is high.
In Zone 10, “Henry VIII”, the maniac sowing a series of decapitated bodies in the heart of New York City, waits for the police in this subway station. The criminal eludes them in an unconventional way, by jumping in front of the subway. He avoids the oar in extremis and runs away into the corridors. Chris Samnee received the 2013 Eisner Award for Best Draftsman/Ink for his work on Daredevil and Rocketeer: Cargo of Doom. The first exit tunnel from this subway station, opened in 1914, led to wine cellars under the Brooklyn Bridge. While these facilities are no longer in use today, New York City is still receiving requests to lease these spaces.
This station has two special features. The first concerns the sublime columns framing one of its entrances located under the Manhattan Municipal Building, visible notably in Crocodile Dundee and its famous knife scene. The Fantastic Animals, paid tribute to the second originality. The Art Deco vaults and glass canopies of the former City Hall station make it an exceptional but not easily accessible place.
62 Street Station
In French Connection, the memorable chase, one of the most cult of the 7th art, begins at Bay 50 Street station and ends at the top of the stairs. This ambitious sequence required five weeks of filming. It ends with the death of mobster Pierre Nicoli (Marcel Bozzuffi), shot by detective Jimmy “Popeye” Doyle (Gene Hackman). That famous car saga was not to Gene Hackman’s liking. Director William Friedkin forced the actor to take to the streets of New York, despite the risks. The chase consists of five cascades, including a counter-current progression along the train’s rails. It was during a discussion with the illustrious Howard Hawks that the filmmaker was persuaded to incorporate such a sequence. For Hawks, Friedkin had to “do better than everyone else.”
Put into service in 1916, this aerial metro station was made famous thanks to the end scene from the film French Connection. Until 1985, the station had only 189 daily users, making it one of the least frequented in the network. In 2018, it had 4,673 passengers, taking this former terminus to 292nd place out of 424 in the order of attendance.
14th Street – Union Square Station
In Flood! before the spectacular flood, the hero comes out of his subway mouth. This underground station was inaugurated in 1948 and welcomes an average of 34 million passengers a year. At the time of its publication, Flood! was supported by two great names of the 9th Art: Neil Gaiman and Art Spiegelman. The album received an American Book Award in 1992.
When the New York subway system was still shared among several firms, there were three separate stations at this location. Since 1948, only one has been ensuring the smooth running of traffic in this particularly busy area. With its huge kiosk in Union Square and unique signage, the station was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 2005.
In The Strong Manner, if the police arrive by car at the Brooklyn Bridge – City Hall station to assist Nick (Michael J. Fox) who is ambushed by three thugs, it is in Hoyt-Schermerhorn.
In Bad, the King of Pop knew how to surround himself. After hiring John Landis to make the video for Thriller, he approached Martin Scorsese for the video for Bad, the title track of the eponymous album. The opportunity for Michael Jackson to play in a real short film since the long version lasts 18 minutes. The singer plays Daryl, a student back home in Harlem, where he intends to prove to his friends, including Wesley Snipes, how much he hasn’t changed and that he has remained “bad”. It was on 122nd Street that Scorsese filmed the reunion between Frederick Douglass Boulevard and Adam Clayton Powell Jr. Avenue. Today, however, it can be difficult to recognize the place because Harlem has changed so much. The subway footage was filmed in Brooklyn’s Hoyt-Schermerhorn station, where Jackson shot The Wiz in 1978. Bad’s screenplay is also inspired by an authentic news item that occurred in 1985.
The video clip of the song Bad, by Michael Jackson, made this station, which was put into service in 1936, world-famous. so much so that in 2009, when the King of the Pop died, a member of the New York City Council proposed renaming the place in the singer’s honour. The MTA decided not to follow up on this, keeping the names of the two streets where it is located. Before 2014, the entrance was in a tiny building. Since the expansion of Brooklyn, the exterior has changed radically, now part of a huge building.
Astor Place Station
In Sleepers, for fun, some kids decide to steal a hot dog vendor’s cart before accidentally dropping it on the stairs leading to the subway? This station, recognizable thanks to its metallic canopy painted green, has not changed since the shooting. The environment, on the other hand, has changed considerably. The film is adapted from Lorenzo Carcaterra’s eponymous novel, itself inspired by real events, published in 1995.
In New York State of Mind, inspired by his return to New York after living in Los Angeles for three years, Piano Man came up with the idea for this song on a Greyhound bus as it was travelling along the Hudson River. However, the Hudson River Line in question here is an invention of the author. The New York Times and the Daily News are cited, as are Chinatown and Riverside. The offices of these two emblematic newspapers are located at 620 8th Avenue #1 and 4 New York Plaza, respectively. The cover of Turnstiles, the album from which this timeless hit came, shows Billy Joel at the turnstiles of the Astor Place station. The artist is surrounded by several characters, each representing a song from the album.
For a long time, this station was one of the most deteriorated in the network. To help finance the rehabilitation of this and the other 68 run-down routes, a Metropolitan Transportation Authority program called Adopt-a-Station was launched in 1984 to raise enough funds to restore these sites. The wager was successful, several million dollars were raised and each of the structures was able to regain its lustre. At Astor Place, efforts were concentrated on ceramic tiles as well as new floor tiles and lighting.
Christopher Street Station
In I’m Afraid of Americans, in this clip directed by the duo Dom & Nic, David Bowie is in the sights of a strange character camped by Trent Reznor, the front man of Nine Inch Nails. The chase through the streets of New York City begins in front of the newsstand next to Christopher Street Station. A big fan of the ex-Ziggy Stardust, Trent Reznor has also made a remix of this track.
In The Naked Feast, the main character evokes “I’m taking the subway back to the centre, making a detour through Sheridan Square station in case the Amazing Girl’s chick hides in a broom closet.” In service since 1918, this station has been adorned since 1994 with twelve mosaics entitled Greenwich Village Murals, created by artist Lee Brozgol with students from Public School 41.
The superb entrance to this resort leaves no one indifferent. The monumental inscription on its canopy recalls its first use, the crossing of the Hudson River by underground route. Inside, Biff Elrod’s murals show people going up and down the stairs. They were first temporarily exhibited on site in 1986. The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey purchased them to keep them permanently in their location.
Times Square – 42nd Street Station
In Cockroach Killer, Walter Eisenhower is led by Luis through the subway corridors of Times Square Station. Cockroach killer came out in ’84. When it was re-released in 2009, the album was included in the collection New York mi amor.
Situated in the heart of Times Square, the station serving the crossroads of the world had to display a luminous pomp. In addition to its many neon lights, it has the particularity of being the busiest of the network with 62 million passengers per year. She’s more than 20 million ahead of her pursuer, Grand Central Station. Vertiginous.
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By Anthony Thibault
From the "Casimir generation", Anthony has kept (in addition to a passion for Goldorak) a taste for inventive images, experimentation and curiosity. Passionate about travel and pop culture, he co-founded Fantrippers with Nicolas Albert to share his passion with as many people as possible.