New York City Subway in popular culture
References to the New York City Subway in popular culture are prevalent, as it is a common element in many New Yorkers' lives.
- Justin Townes Earle's "Working for the MTA" describes the 6 train from the perspective of the driver.
- In the novel The Taking of Pelham One Two Three and the films based on it, a 6 train that originated in Pelham Bay Park Station was hijacked, and hostages were held inside a subway car.
- After his first visit to NYC in 1969, Rubén Blades wrote the song "El número seis" about waiting for the 6 train. He never recorded it, but it was recorded in 1975 by Bobby Rodríguez y la Compañía in 1975, Los Soneros del Barrio in 1999, and Jimmy Sabater with Son Boricua in 2002.
- When she was growing up, Jennifer Lopez regularly rode a 6 train into Manhattan to go to her dance studio. Her debut 1999 album is called On the 6, a reference to the train.
- Mark Wahlberg rides the 6 (R29/36 cars) in the movie The Yards.
- On January 22, 2006, eight members of the Improv Everywhere comedy troupe were arrested on a 6 train after participating in a city-wide prank dubbed "No Pants". They have before and since performed several other pranks on the 6 train.
- In the 2000 movie, Boiler Room, the main character, Seth, mentions that the brokers at his firm act like they "just got off the 6 train to Fulton Street." The 6 train, however, does not stop at Fulton Street.
- A scene in Kids takes place on the 6 train, including shots of a legless panhandler on a skateboard.
- In the How I Met Your Mother episode "Lucky Penny", Barney Stinson gets stuck on a 6 train when he becomes unable to move his legs.
- In the 1984 film The Pope of Greenwich Village, the bar and tow truck scenes take place beneath the 6 train's elevated structure at Castle Hill Avenue station.
- Take the A Train is a jazz standard by Billy Strayhorn, referring to the A train, going at that time from eastern Brooklyn up into Harlem and northern Manhattan, using the express tracks in Manhattan. It became the signature tune of Duke Ellington and often opened the shows of Ella Fitzgerald. Part of the significance of this is sociological: it connected the two largest Black neighborhoods in New York City, Harlem and Bedford-Stuyvesant.
- Cinderella & The "A" Train is a song by Joe Purdy, and is one of several songs by Purdy about (or with references to) New York City.
- "Walking Down Madison" by Kirsty MacColl mentions the "A-Train".
- In the Broadway musical Hair, during Act I, the "tribe" recites a list of material things that they lack through the song "Ain't Got No." One of the items that is lacking is the "A Train."
- In the Broadway musical In the Heights, during the title song, Usnavi tells the audience to "take the A Train" (to the melody of Strayhorn's Take the A Train) "even farther than Harlem to Northern Manhattan and maintain. Get off at 181st and take the escalator. I hope you're writing this down, I'm gonna test ya later."
- Rapper Azealia Banks says in her single 212 that she grew up in the neighborhood of Harlem, serviced by the A: "I was in the 212, on the uptown A..."
- Bob Dylan's 1966 song "Visions of Johanna" includes the lyric "In the empty lot where the ladies play blindman's bluff with the keychain/And the all-night girls, they whisper of escapades out on the D train." At the time, the D used the IND Culver Line to Coney Island.
- Biz Markie's song "Pickin' Boogers" from his debut album Goin' Off features the line "I was chillin one day/with my partner Kane/headed up to the rooftop/ridin' the D train."
- The opening track on Yoko Ono's 2009 album Between My Head And The Sky is titled 'Waiting For The D Train'. The D passes through 72nd Street (opposite Yoko's apartment in the Dakota Building) but never stops there, as it is a local station.
- In the late 1980s and early 1990s, numerous Top 10 Lists on Late Night with David Letterman contained references to the D train.
- The famous car-chase scene in the movie The French Connection took place under the elevated tracks running from 86th Street into New Utrecht Avenue, Brooklyn (although at that time, the B was serving the West End Line). Many of the actual street scenes, however, were shot in other areas, such as Bushwick, Brooklyn.
- The namesake street youth gang in the 1979 film The Warriors travel on the D, throughout the film's opening credits, from their Coney Island turf to a meeting in the Bronx.
- The service is mentioned in the song Boogie Down by Man Parrish Ft. Freeze Force (MC John Ski) raps the following line: "You take the D to 205th Then go see me 'cause I got the gift And I'm the cool MC with the vicious sounds I'm not from the Bronx, but I still Boogie Down".
- The service is mentioned in the song 3 The Hard Way by Beastie Boys. Adam Yauch raps the following line: "Used to ride the D to beat the morning bell at Edward R. Murrow out on Avenue L..." (Referring to Edward R. Murrow High School, where the D served the station closest to the school, Avenue M, until 2001, when it was replaced by the Q).
- The service is mentioned twice in the song Stop That Train by the Beastie Boys. Mike D and Adrock rap the following line: "Same faces every day, but you don't know their names, party people going places on the D train". Adam Yauch raps the following line: "Groggy-eyed and fried, and I'm headed for the station, D train ride to Coney Island vacation."
- The characters of Seinfeld uses the D train to go to Coney Island in the episode The Subway.
- The 1980s folk-pop trio The Washington Squares includes a song titled "D Train" on their eponymous 1987 debut album.
- Type O Negative refer to the D train as the chosen transport to Brighton Beach, where lead singer Peter Steele will kill his girlfriend in their songs "Xero Tolerance," "Hey Pete", and "Kill You Tonight".
- It is also mentioned in an episode of Penguins of Madagascar called "Gone In A Flash" where the penguins go to rescue Maurice and have to travel through the subway system. Also, in episode "Dr. Blowhole's Revenge", when Julien is kidnaped by the lobsters, Mort starts his travel to save him by using the metro until Coney Island.
- Man Against Crime episode Third Rail (S4E19) starring Ralph Bellamy was filmed on the D train and at the 207th Street Yard in 1953.
- Jean-Michel Basquiat generated much interest in his graffiti art, which took the form of spray-painted aphorisms that were targeted at the D train.
- Rapper Jay Z has acknowledged that his moniker is partially a homage to the J/Z services, which stop at Marcy Avenue, near his childhood home in Marcy Houses.
- The Arthur Gilespie 1912 song "The Subway Glide" was a popular dance piece.
- The jazz standard "Take the A Train", composed by Billy Strayhorn the 1940s, was named for and inspired by the then-new A train.
- The Velvet Underground used a painting of an old Times Square Subway Station entrance with pink smoke coming out of it for the cover of their 1970 release, Loaded.
- The Bee Gees recorded the song "Subway" for their 1976 album Children of the World.
- Jennifer Lopez's 1999 album was called On the 6, named after the 6 train that she regularly rode while growing up in the Bronx on her way to dance practices in Manhattan, prior to her stardom.
- The 1999 video for Macy Gray's video I Try shows Gray entering the Lexington Avenue / 53rd Street subway entrance, which at the time served the 6, E and F trains. Her train is depicted arriving on at 63rd Street.
- The 1999 music video of "I Knew I Loved You" by Savage Garden used the same set as the Seinfeld episode "The Subway".
- The subway has a fictional station on Sesame Street. It also has appeared in some closing sequences of the series.
- The second half of the 1974 The Odd Couple episode "The Subway Story", takes place in a subway train. The episode was filmed on a set.
- The entire All in the Family episode "Mike The Pacifist" (which aired in 1977) takes place on a subway train. A set was constructed at Television City in Hollywood, which resembled the interior of a subway train traveling toward Queens.
- In the 1987–1989 American television series Beauty and the Beast, Vincent (the "Beast"), who lived in tunnels beneath the city (see "Mole People"), would ride on top of a subway car to travel surreptitiously around the city.
- In the 1992 Seinfeld episode "The Subway", a subway ride leads to four unique experiences. Jerry Seinfeld befriends an overweight nudist; George Costanza meets an attractive woman who invites him to her hotel room; Elaine Benes misses a lesbian wedding; and Cosmo Kramer wins a horse bet.
- In the 1993 Full House episode "Subterranean Graduation Blues", the entire family rides the subway to Jesse's graduation ceremony. Exterior shots of trains pulling in and out of stations are of the New York City subway, but the episode takes place San Francisco.
The New York City subway has been featured prominently in many films.
- One of the subway's first color appearances is the 1949 musical On the Town, shot on location. One of the characters takes a fancy to "Miss Turnstiles," a "typical rider" whose picture appears in many different poses on advertising placards.
- The 1966 counterculture film You're a Big Boy Now contains a scene where Peter Kastner reads some racist graffiti in a subway station.
- The 1967 film The Incident (which starred Beau Bridges) takes place on a subway train along the IRT Jerome Avenue Line in the Bronx.
- The 1969 film Midnight Cowboy featured surrealistic pastiche scenes of Dustin Hoffman on the New York subway.
- In the 1971 film The French Connection. The subway and car chase on and underneath the elevated BMT West End Line is often considered one of the greatest chase scenes in film history. It was shot without permits. The platform at Grand Central of the 42nd Street Shuttle was also extensively used for a scene.
- The Woody Allen film Bananas has a scene where Woody's character Fielding Melish confronts two muggers, one played by a young unknown actor named Sylvester Stallone, who are assaulting an old lady by tossing them off the Times Square Shuttle.
- The 1974 film Death Wish has a few scenes on various lines of the NYC Subway in which the character of Paul Kersey (played by Charles Bronson) gets to practice vigilantism.
- The 1974 film The Taking of Pelham One Two Three centers on the hijacking of a southbound 6 train. The time of the movie led to the MTA avoiding 1:23 as a departure time for Pelham trains. The film was remade in 1998 and 2009
- The 1977 film Saturday Night Fever shows several clips of the subway, most notably Tony's ride on the R train and several of his walks underneath the West End El. All of the clips show trains covered in graffiti, which was a major problem in the subway at the time the movie was filmed.
- The 1979 cult film The Warriors focuses on a street gang taking the subway from upper Bronx to Coney Island. The film's heavily graffitied cars contrast starkly with today's relatively clean subway system.
- In the climactic scene of 1986 film Crocodile Dundee, Sue follows Mick to a subway station. There, she cannot reach him through the crowd on the platform, but has members of the crowd relay her message to him, whereupon he walks to her on the heads and raised hands of the jubilant crowd and embraces her.
- The IND Culver Line, particularly the Bergen Street station, features prominently in the opening of the 1990 film Jacob's Ladder.
- In the 1990 drama Ghost, Patrick Swayze encounters Vincent Schiavelli, a "subway ghost" who has haunted several trains in the system since being pushed onto the tracks while alive. All the scenes were filmed on the unused lower level at 42nd Street – Port Authority Bus Terminal.
- Glengarry Glen Ross (1992) is set in Sheepshead Bay, Brooklyn and has the D train as a scene-setting device.
- The 1995 film Die Hard with a Vengeance features Simon Gruber (Jeremy Irons) planting a bomb on a 3 train in order to blow up the Wall Street station.
- The 1995 film Hackers has a key scene which takes place in the New York City Subway, in which the protagonists convene to plan their revenge against the villain.
- The 1995 film Money Train takes place in the subway system, with Wesley Snipes, Woody Harrelson, and Jennifer Lopez playing New York City Transit Police officers. The main plot of the film dealt with a plan to hijack the NYCT revenue collection train. The train scenes were filmed in Los Angeles on a specially constructed replica of the New York City Subway system on an old railroad yard adjacent to Chinatown known as "The Cornfield."
- Much of the 1997 film Mimic is set inside an abandoned subway station.
- In 1997, HBO held a contest wherein New Yorkers were encouraged to send in stories about their experiences on the system to be part of a documentary. The documentary, Subway Stories: Tales from the Underground, included over ten stories featuring performances by actors such as Denis Leary, Steve Zahn, Jerry Stiller, Gregory Hines, and Rosie Perez (who also helped to produce).
- In the 2000 Adam Sandler comedy Little Nicky, the subway below Grand Central Terminal possesses a portal to hell. At one point, Sandler's character saves girlfriend Patricia Arquette from an oncoming train by throwing himself onto the tracks in her place; upon dying, he finds himself in heaven.
- The Yards (2000) revolves around private subway and commuter railroad contractors and corruption. Several scenes in rail yards are present and Mark Wahlberg rides the 6 train.
- In 2001, the producers of the drama Don't Say a Word, starring Michael Douglas and Brittany Murphy, converted the abandoned Lower Bay subway station platform in Toronto to a station similar to Canal Street.
- The 2002 film Men in Black II featured an alien entering an underground tunnel. Once there, it attacks and devours most of a subway train (which is a combination of R32 and R38 cars) until Agent J destroys it. He is then seen walking out of the station, 81st Street – Museum of Natural History.
- The main character of the 2003 television film Homeless to Harvard: The Liz Murray Story lives in the subway.
- In 2004, Spider-Man 2 featured a fight and crash scene between Spider-Man and Doctor Octopus on an out-of-control elevated R train in Manhattan. In reality, the R is not elevated at all; the scenes involving the train were actually filmed in Chicago, on the Loop, and the trains depicted are 2200 Series "L" train cars (with blinker doors not sliding doors as in New York).
- The 2005 film Little Manhattan shows Gabe and Rosemary riding from 72nd Street to Christopher Street along the IRT Broadway – Seventh Avenue Line. Also, Gabe wears a 3 train T-shirt during parts of the film.
- The 2007 film The Brave One features a scene where Erica shoots and kills two men on the subway after they attacked the other passengers in the car and took a teenager's iPod. The scene was filmed on the unused express tracks at Church Avenue.
- The 2008 film Cloverfield shows the group running into the Spring Street to get away from the monster. However, that was not the real station because Spring Street Station in the movie had one, huge side platform and the length of the platform was smaller; meaning that was just a mock-up.
- In the 2009 film Knowing, a major collision occurs between a 6 and a 4 train at Lafayette Street station.
- Series of baseball games between New York City teams are referred to as Subway Series. It is said that early 20th century teams took the subway to their opponents' parks. The Brooklyn Dodgers played at Ebbets Field, located near the Prospect Park station on the BMT Brighton Line; the New York Giants played at the Polo Grounds, located near the 155th Street station of the IRT Ninth Avenue Line and the 155th Street station of the IND Concourse Line; and the New York Yankees played at Yankee Stadium, near 161st Street station on the IRT Jerome Avenue and IND Concourse lines.
- In 1993, a 16-year-old boy named Keron Thomas, who was obsessed with the city's subway system, put on a uniform and successfully impersonated a subway motorman. For three hours, he operated a A train along its route, passengers none the wiser, until he rounded a curve too fast and tripped the emergency brakes. He was caught when he was unable to reset them. He received a suspended sentence and a lot of publicity.
- "Ain't Got No Lyrics". Retrieved 2014-06-14.
- Jean-Michel Basquiat
- Birchmeier, Jason. Jay-Z Biography. Allmusic. Retrieved August 24, 2007.
- New York Times Subway Glide
- "Duke Ellington and Billy Strayhorn: Jazz Composers -Take the "A" Train". Duke Ellington & Billy Strayhorn: Jazz Composers. National Museum of American History. Retrieved 12 February 2013.
- The Velvet Underground; Loaded (1970) (AllMusic.com)
- (News) Native New Yorker Jennifer Lopez Celebrates city's Puerto Rican Day, Lewiston Morning Tribune, June 15, 1999
- Savage Garden diary entry for 26 August 1999
- File:Tv movie christmas eve oscar legs 86th street.jpg
- Seinfeld Scripts; The Subway
- Large Still of "On the Town" (GoneMovie.com)
- You're a Big Boy Now 1966; Scene from the subway station (Dreams Are What Le Cinema is For)
- What is the best car chase scene of all time?
- Scene near elevated NYCT Line (IMCDb.org)
- Random Subway entrance scene (IMCDb.org)
- Subway image captured on Internet Movie Cars Database
- Death Wish (1974), starring Charles Bronson (VIDEO) (Time Out, New York)
- Dwyer, Jim, "Subway lives : 24 hours in the life of the New York City subway", Crown, 1991, ISBN 0-517-58445-X
- The Warriors Subway Trip (Stone Grease)
- Movies Filmed At 59th St - Columbus Circle Station (MovieMaps)
- Jacob's Ladder; 1990 (On the Set of New York)
- Vincent Schiavelli in Ghost (HotFlicks.com)
- Glengarry Glen Ross (On the Set of New York)
- Die Hard With a Vengeance (Movie Mistakes)
- Money Train; 1995 (On the Set of New York)
- Flickr photo describing the location
- Marking Time In Movie Land. "Subway Stories". cinemachild.blogspot.com. Retrieved 2011-01-04.
- Little Nicky (Hollywood Jesus)
- "The Films of James Gray: Old Testament Narratives," by Robert Alpert (Senses of Cinema; December 10, 2012)
- LOWER BAY'S NEW YORK MAKEOVER
- Little Manhattan; 2005 (On the Set of New York)
- "Knowing’ crew lets you in on the secrets of that subway crash," by Patrick Kevin Day (Los Angeles Times; March 26, 2009)
- Great Subway Series moments (ESPN.com)
- 155th Street: The 9th Avenue Elevated-Polo Grounds Shuttle (NYCSubway.org)
- Remnants of the Ninth Avenue El (Forgotten New York)
- Perez-Pena, Richard (July 15, 1993). "Aficionado Of Subway Spared Prison". The New York Times. Retrieved March 29, 2008.