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Riding the Subway in 1987: Graffiti, Trash, and No Shirts

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Imagine you're taking the train from Union Square to Coney Island. Now imagine you were doing it 26 years ago. A recent post on the Bensonhurst Bean dredged up a seven-minute video posted on YouTube last year (but shot in 1987) of a meandering subway ride that offers a glimpse of the transit system back then. Here's the rundown: 1) graffiti covered every possible surface?walls, seats, doors, columns, the cars' exterior, and all over the stations, too; 2) you would sprawl/recline/lie prostrate all over seats even if you weren't homeless; 3) there was lots of detritus on the ground, even more than today; and 4) you could just get on the train shirtless and it wasn't a thing. One other notable difference? If you got bored, you'd stare off into space or sketch/doodle/deface a book rather than zoning out in front of a smartphone or tablet. Also, there were more tube socks.

At about 4:23, the Bean notes, you can spot the Leow's Oriental Theatre, where there is now a very mainstream Marshall's. Sigh, gentrification. But it's reassuring, you know, that some things haven't changed. Women have continued to master the art of applying makeup on train. Cross-dressers still ride the subway. People still nap. Even 21st-century kids swing from the straps. And yes, people did give the finger to the video camera back then. Lastly, Coney Island took a long-ass time to get to. End scene.
· Train Ride to Coney Island in 1987 [City Data Forum]
· Blast From The Past: A Subway Ride To Coney Island In 1987 [Bensonhurst Bean]


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