The Community of the Subway

By Annie Evans, Ball State University ’16

I had a new experience today, almost as an initiation as a real “New Yorker,” if one can ever earn that badge.

I was hurrying down the stairs of the subway to reach the L Train, but the doors shut before I reached them. Then the doors opened again. I had a glimmer of hope, as I realized I may be able to hop through! Alas, they shut. Again. But the train was not leaving yet. My dilemma began to garner the attention of riders inside the train. I could almost hear the thoughts inside their heads: “Oh, she must be new.”

It became clear that if I were to get on this train and not be late to my internship, I would have to jump in as the doors were closing, something the MTA discourages but many people still do.

Then one rider yelled to me, “Just do it!” I leapt. The doors began to close on me, and I pushed through to the inside of the car.

The other subway riders cheered for me, as if I had just gone through some initiation! This was a shared moment with all the occupants of this subway car, and I became part of the tribe.

This experience is one of many that can occur daily in the unique community of the subway.

This artist was painting a portrait of the performance artists above.
This artist was painting a portrait of the performance artists above.

Each station and each train seem to have their own personalities, and these personalities are often a derivation of the people who pass through daily.

 Even at the stations, performers and artists of all kinds share their work with travelers. 

In the world of New York, we may not realize just how close we are. We jam ourselves into the tin cans of train cars like sardines and end up in each other’s personal space. These conditions do lend themselves to the chance to share with others, or share cake as this woman did!

I am so grateful to have learning opportunities in the city as part of New York Arts Program!


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