Visit New York City Using the Subways Even if You Don’t Know How!

New York City Subway
New York City Subway - 42nd Street

Do something different, off the beaten path, be a local on your quick visit to New York City. Really? Is this possible? Everything seems so, well, overflowing with tourists or fast paced natives. If you don’t know someone it is easy to just go with the usual sights to see. And of course these are all great…Circle Line, Empire State Building, Broadway, Museums etc…! However, this itinerary misses the flare you hoped your trip would have this time.


Answer: Accept your tourist status, yet embrace the local way of life by riding the subways and learning about the city as you go. How? Take the New York City Subway Tour.

New York City Skyline
New York City Skyline

Yep, you can learn to ride the rails in New York City and likely walk away knowing more about the history and look of the most popular stations than a native New Yorker. Darryl is your knowledgeable and quirky guide with more information than he can possibly throw at you in 2 hours. What he has time to share is wonderfully entertaining as he hustles you around the boroughs!

New York City Subway
New York City Subway – 8th Street

Your tour brings you through a handful of the 468 subway stations where you will spend most of the time in Manhattan and Brooklyn. Two hundred and forty-five of the stations have beautiful artwork that locals zoom by everyday. This was made possible by the Arts for Transit Commission in 1985.

NYC Subway Art Tour - Washington Square Park
NYC Subway Art Tour – Washington Square Park

The subway system opened in 1904. In 1924 turnstiles were implemented and in 1953 tokens became the way to pay for your ride. And now of course you use your Metrocard. Early on the subways did incorporate some design elements like fancy lampposts and stained glass but in 1985 artists were incorporated into the aesthetics. And I can tell you it has made a difference.


Some Highlights of the Tour:


Times Square Station: You will see the art here uniquely in 35 different square light boxes designed by Toby Buonagurio lining the walls of this station and you will also likely see artists performing throughout the station. I thought people just set up camp here randomly to play for commuters and collect money. But as it turns out, they have to be selected by the commission to be allowed to perform. In particular, I liked this woman playing the SAW!

NYC Subway Art Tour - Times Square
NYC Subway Art Tour – Times Square

Madison Square Garden: This station is filled with Circus murals, as that is one of the things this area in NYC was most known for over the years. Each station highlights and reflects on the neighborhood it sits beneath almost giving you a visual history of each area.

New York City Subway Performers
New York City Subway Performers

Fashion District: The main wall here is decorated with the favorite hats of famous people, each sitting at the height of that person … including Thom Thumb! I walked through this station for literally years, and never even noticed or thought to ask about the floating hats on the wall…


42nd Street: The tribute here highlights the life of the commuter since we are under Grand Central Station. You will see a poem in the rafters about commuters lamenting and a large mural depicting “losing your marbles”.


New York City Subway
New York City Subway – 42nd Street

Dumbo: On the way to Brooklyn you will see a flip art show developed by artist Bill Brand in 1980 as you race through the tunnels. Most people never even know it is there to turn and take a look out the window while you zoom quickly under the river!


14 Street: This station is peppered with little bronze sculptures made in the 90’s and installed in 2001. Hard to believe there are about 130 in total!


Union Square: Here the mosaic tiles are said to still be the originals from 1904.

Remember to tell Darryl The Adventure Travel Gal sent you!! Enjoy.




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