Steve Duncan Explores the Abandoned Bowery Subway Station

Via MyBlockNYC, a cool new interactive New York City mapping site that pulls together local videos from its users, here is Steve Duncan, urban spelunker, exploring the depths of the abandoned Bowery subway station at Spring between Bowery and Elizabeth. The video, filmed by Andrew Wonder, manages to be creepy, thrilling, and a bit anxiety-producing (at least for us, what with our intense paranoia related to being on the subway tracks). It's worth a watch. Spoiler alert: at the end, Duncan somehow emerges onto the subway station at 2nd Avenue -- as Bowery Boogie points out, this is "likely due to the Chrystie Street Connection, which carries quite the confusing history" -- and you can see the glee in his eyes. This is why people explore, urbanly. [Bowery Boogie]

Greenpoint Woman Narrowly Escapes Being Devoured by Sidewalk

Photo by Stefano Giovannini, via the Brooklyn Paper
Philippa Kaye, a Greenpoint resident, faced a reality that is the stuff of nightmares (not ours, we're not that screwed up) this weekend as she innocently passed Flatbush and Fifth Avenues to view the New York City marathon. That's when she "encountered a hole in the sidewalk so massive it swallowed her whole," reports the Brooklyn Paper. As you can see from the photo at right.

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Trapped Chilean Miners Have No Idea Their Rescue May Take Four Months

As we learned earlier this week, there are 33 miners trapped 2,000 feet underground after a mine cave-in in San Jose, Chile. Fortunately, they are all still alive. Unfortunately, it's going to take three to four months to extricate them, via drilling a hole large enough for their release. This story deserves to be mentioned because, honestly, it is just insane.

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L Train Dubbed "Most Romantic" Subway Line by Craigslist Love Gurus

Service cuts = More time for love.
Craigslist is as obsessed with their Missed Connections as we are, to the extent that they dug in and calculated which subway lines and stations are "most romantic" in a month-long study of nearly 500 New York City Missed Connections posts. We'd like to point out that just because a subway train is mentioned as the location of a so-called Missed Connection, that doesn't mean the posters are "romantic." But since the New York Times probably isn't allowed to say "horny," we'll let that slide. (Not letting slide: "Commuteris downcastus" -- oof.)

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Bernie Madoff's Family Changes Name to That of a Famous Pirate


America's most notorious Ponzi family are now calling themselves "the Morgans." At least some of the Madoff clan have adopted that name: Stephanie Madoff, second wife of Bernie Madoff's son Mark Madoff, has gone to court for the name change for her and her kids Audrey and Nicholas.

The Post calls the new name "far less controversial," but it's a rum choice and not really a change but more of a synonym. The most famous "Morgan" brand name in the world — Captain Morgan rum — derives directly from Captain Henry Morgan, one of the most dangerous 17th century Caribbean pirates and the inspiration for numerous books and movies.

Subway Renovations: Light at the End of the Tunnel

Some of the city's most neglected Subway stops are going to finally get a little attention.

The MTA just voted to spend $28-billion on various transit projects -- among which are a second LIRR track and parking help at congested stations. But what will make a lot of commuters' day is news that a few of our filthiest train stations will be getting some much-needed renovating.

They include seven stations along the F and M lines, six on the A, L and 3 lines -- all in Brooklyn and Queens -- and four N and W stops in Astoria specifically. The Grand Street stop on the B and D lines in Manhattan will also be included. The upgrades will mean that stairs and ceilings will be fixed and aging platforms will be redone -- all at a cost of about $650-million.

The MTA's plan will unfold slowly over the next five years.

Green Underground

Green isn't the first color that comes to mind when you think about New York's subway system. Brown maybe. Some kind of charcoal-y color. Urine yellow, perhaps. But a new stimulus package from the feds is about to change that.

The city's set to receive $2-million dollars put aside for green technologies on our subways. It's part of a $100-million dollar initiative designed to create greener public transportation across the country.

The money New York's getting will go toward installing remote controlled third rail heaters which can be turned off when the weather permits -- thereby saving energy.

Phase 1 of Second Avenue Subway Pushed Back, As Expected, to 2017

Oh, come on. Did you really think you were going to see the Second Avenue Subway up and running during your lifetime? A dinky wood fire on the Throgs Neck Bridge has the thing fucked up for a month; they can't bring in the modest 7 train extension on time or even complete; and you thought an entire subway line would be ready in eight years? If the pushback from 2015 to 2017 for the first stage of uptown stations disappoints you, you haven't been paying attention -- 2017 is itself a false hope. Have no expectations, and if the thing and its hideous appurtenances ever materializes, you'll be pleasantly surprised, or at least obliged to come up with new complaints. That's just basic New York Zen.

Top Marks to 7 Train, Low Marks to C, in Largely Meaningless Subway Survey

thompsonsub.jpgThe subway nudges of the Straphangers Campaign issued their annual State of the Subways report. The 7 train was their favorite, which in their MetroCard rating system means it's almost worth the price of a pre-fare-hike ride ($1.55); on the GCT-to-Flushing line you're more likely to get a train and a seat than on the average line. The Straphangers' worst is the C, which rates 50 cents. But in general they find the subways in pretty good operation.

There, wasn't that fun? The Straphangers report always gets big play in the news because it's simple, it's list-y, and it's something to whom We the People can relate. Also, since it follows standard, quotidian measures of performance -- on-time operation, cleanliness, etc. -- it does not get into bigger issues like the massive service cuts the MTA has promised. In fact, if you remove stops from a train's route, as is proposed for the W, or eliminate night service, the line may operate more efficiently by the Straphangers' metric. Thus a totally devastated subway system might set a record for high marks.

Plus, it's the buses that really suck. We also notice there's no category for robot conductor stop-skipping.

Update: In comments a Straphangers spokesperson rebuts. He's correct that the service cutbacks promised by the MTA should have been rendered in that past tense, but we expect those threats to be made with each budget until someone gets serious -- which is to say, when it's too late.

Cell Pic Creep Tries Again, Is Arrested

cellcreep.jpgThey caught the W train molester whose victim took this cell phone picture after he abused her: Kevin Johnson, 30, was picked up for sexual abuse, harassment, disorderly conduct and marijuana possession. Turns out he was trying to harrass another woman at the Bay Street 50th stop in Brooklyn, and that woman made him from the news photo; she called 911 and the cops took it from there. Johnson was selling MetroCard swipes before he decided to start chatting, or rather swearing, up his new victim. The picture-taking previous victim, Simona Pirvutu, says she's relieved Johnson is in custody.