Anyone who rides public transportation on a regular basis probably has their own list of pet peeves related to their fellow riders’ actions. So when I heard that the New York Transit Museum’s annex had a new exhibition about transit etiquette, I knew that I would likely identify with at least some of it. What I didn’t expect was how much I would enjoy the exhibit!
The Transit Museum Annex, located in Grand Central Terminal, is a small space. There’s really only room for one exhibition at a time, plus a store full of fun transit-themed gifts. At Christmas every year, the annex has a model train exhibition that we explored previously here. The current exhibition, Transit Etiquette Or: How I Learned to Stop Spitting and Step Aside in 25 Languages, is on display through July 2016. (And don’t forget, the Transit Museum Annex has free admission!)
The Transit Etiquette exhibition consists of train etiquette posters from around the world. I’ve seen some of the New York posters before – some of them are on exhibit in the vintage trains on display at the transit museum, and the vintage holiday trains also have them throughout. The Subway Sun posters, as they were titled, got their start in New York City’s subway system in 1918 and continued until the mid-1960s, with a break from 1940 to 1946 because of World War II. What these posters really show is how the challenges subway riders face from rude fellow riders has not really changed in almost 100 years!
Here are a few of my favorites, created by Amelia Opdyke Jones, also known as “Oppy.” Oppy produced many of the most popular posters in the years following World War II. In fact, this first poster contains many of my greatest subway grievances all in one!
One of the things that annoys me the most is someone “manspreading,” taking up more than one seat, when the subway is packed full of people. It was interesting to see that this must be a problem across the world. Here are some fun posters with that theme. The first photo shows two posters from SEPTA, the Philadelphia, Pennsylvania system. The second one shows another poster from the New York City subways. The third one is from the Tokyo train system. And the fourth one is from Translink, the system in Vancouver, British Columbia, in Canada. Portraying the “Lounge Lizard” who takes over an entire seat on the train, this one is my favorite!
The store even has items that continue the “manspreading” theme, such as this coffee cup with the current New York City poster’s imagery.
There are many more fun and interesting posters in the exhibition, but I thought I would end with this one, a 1962 New York City poster, from the Etti-cat.
Having had this small taste of the Transit Etiquette exhibition, I know you’ll want to see it yourself! So how do you get to the Transit Museum Annex? The 4, 5, 6, 7, and S subway lines all stop at Grand Central Terminal, as do numerous buses. You can also take the Metro North Railroad. The New York Transit Museum Annex is located in the Grand Central’s Shuttle Passage.