29 January 2012

Meet Me On The E Train

I've been reading Interborough Rapid Transit: The New York Subway: Its Construction and Equipment, written by anonymous in 1904, on my Kindle.

Now there's an unexpected consequence of owning that machine.  I'm too cheap to pony up $9.95 or more for a Kindle version of a book I can find used for under $4 (with shipping), so I've been browsing the free collections.  I also just read The Call of the Wild, and last summer I tried to read The Count of Monte Cristo while on vacation.  (I think I got through about half of the tale, which in printed editions frequently runs to three volumes.)

But recently, I was browsing specifically for books about the New York City subway, and found Randy Kennedy's Subwayland in a used paperback, plus a hardcover history of the subways initially written as a doctoral dissertation.  Plus the 1904 tome.  (Is it still a "tome" if it's digital?)

It's full of incredible, wonderful details about things like the materials used to construct the stations, the methods used for tunnelling under the Harlem and East Rivers, and the trestles used to hold up the surface trains while the subway was being built underground.

Made me remember how the The Mate and I used to meet up on the subway.  This was back in the 80s, before cell phones.  (Also before Metrocards.)  I'd call him right before I left the office, then board the E train at the front of the front car.  When the train pulled into West 14th Street fifteen minutes later or so, he'd be waiting at the front end of the platform, and he'd look for me before getting on.

We'd ride together to Canal Street, eat chicken or frog legs (this was also before we went vegetarian) at Pho Pasteur on Baxter Street, maybe stop at the Chinatown Ice Cream Factory or the Chinese supermarket on Canal, and then walk home.