From Publishers Weekly
Love it, loathe it or simply view it as the most efficient way to get from Brooklyn to the Upper West Side, the New York City subway system is an urban wonder: running 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, Kennedy says it boasts 468 stations, 656 miles of passenger tracks and 6,400 cars, which might carry up to 200 passengers each. It also offers New Yorkers and visitors alike "the gift of proximity"=an "enforced neighborhood" that makes New York "more... cohesive than a city its size ever had a right to be." So argues Kennedy, author of the New York Times column "Tunnel Vision," in the introduction to this collection of three years of his musings on train buffs, poetically inspired token booth operators, singles cars, token suckers, subway performers, track workers and underground fauna. Thematically organized into sections like "Underground Government" and "Wildlife," the travelogue of the world beneath the city offers a wealth of fascinating sketches, such as the A line's pigeon stowaways in Far Rockaway, the misanthropic comic at 53rd and Fifth and the man who built a replica of a motorman's cab in his bedroom ("When I show it to people, right away they know I'm not married," he says ruefully). Trivia abounds: the E train is the best train to sleep on; some of the subway's early construction was thanks to blind mules; 27 of the retired Redbird cars form an artificial reef off Delaware; and a recent Lost Property Unit auction offered 285 beepers, five violins and a box of tambourines. 7 b&w photos.
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“On every page of this handsomely-written collection, Randy Kennedy has taught me something new. Everything I cherish about the subways is here: the underground community of solitude, the performers, the lunatics, the sinister desperadoes, the professionals who move us through those tunnels in speed and safety, along with the abiding mysteries. If these pieces don't get the remaining subwayphobes out of their stalled autos and into the city's greatest daily marvel, nothing will."
- Pete Hamill
"...to read his notes from the underground (and the elevated) is to know that Kennedy crafts city stories on a par with the marvelous Joseph Mitchell's....he discovers Gotham at its scrappiest--the most American place in America.. A"
- Entertainment Weekly