10 March 2010

The Inaccessible NYC Subway System

Took the F train to 6th Avenue today to meet a friend at the New York Public Library and check out the exhibit of maps from 1609 to 2009. It was pretty cool.

Circumstances being what they are, however, I was hoping not to have to walk up a lot of stairs to get out of the station. I thought I saw a little wheelchair icon by that station on the NYC subway map, so I was expecting to find an elevator.

Walked up and down the platform, but didn't find it. Looking at the map again, I see that the icon is actually by the Rockefeller Center Station. At that point, though, I followed signs up some stairs to the 24-hour token booth to ask. The helpful woman there told me that if I went back down the stairs, walked to the other end of the platform, and went up the stairs at the other end, I'd find an elevator leading into the Bank of America.

Yeah. That helps. (Actually, for me it would help ... if there were a sign leading to it ... because it would at least lessen the number of stairs I'd have to climb. If I were actually incapable of climbing any stairs, I'd still be SOL.)

I had a lovely time with an old friend looking at the maps and then getting lunch, and I then descended into Penn Station to take the A to the F back to Essex and Delancey. There's an escalator at that station, goes from the platform level all the way to the street. Unfortunately, it's only accessible if you arrive at the station going toward Manhattan/Uptown. Since I was headed downtown... I was foiled again.

And you know, people give all kinds of interesting looks when you stop to rest going up the stairs out of the subway. Sympathetic, annoyed, baffled (because I look healthy), or just looking straight through you.

It would be nice if the city that so many think is the center of the universe were more accessible. Not that I had any idea about any of this, before the onset of "the itis."