New York City Subway in popular culture

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References to the New York City Subway in popular culture are prevalent, as it is a common element in many New Yorkers' lives.

By service[edit]


  • Justin Townes Earle's song "Working for the MTA" describes the 6 train from the perspective of the driver.
  • In the novel The Taking of Pelham One Two Three and the films based on it, a 6 train that originated in Pelham Bay Park Station was hijacked, and hostages were held inside a subway car.
  • After his first visit to NYC in 1969, Rubén Blades wrote the song "El número seis" about waiting for the 6 train. He never recorded it, but it was recorded in 1975 by Bobby Rodríguez y la Compañía in 1975, Los Soneros del Barrio in 1999, and Jimmy Sabater with Son Boricua in 2002.
  • When she was growing up, Jennifer Lopez regularly rode a 6 train into Manhattan to go to her dance studio. Her debut 1999 album is called On the 6, a reference to the train.


  • "Take the A Train" is a jazz standard by Billy Strayhorn, referring to the A train, going at that time from eastern Brooklyn up into Harlem and northern Manhattan, using the express tracks in Manhattan. It became the signature tune of Duke Ellington and often opened the shows of Ella Fitzgerald. Part of the significance of this is sociological: it connected the two largest Black neighborhoods in New York City, Harlem and Bedford-Stuyvesant.
  • "Cinderella & The "A" Train" is a song by Joe Purdy, and is one of several songs by Purdy about (or with references to) New York City.


  • The opening track on Yoko Ono's 2009 album Between My Head And The Sky is titled "Waiting For The D Train". The D passes through 72nd Street (opposite Yoko's apartment in the Dakota Building) but never stops there, as it is a local station.
  • The 1980s folk-pop trio The Washington Squares includes a song titled "D Train" on their eponymous 1987 debut album.
  • Jean-Michel Basquiat generated much interest in his graffiti art, which took the form of spray-painted aphorisms that were targeted at the D train.[1]


  • Rapper Jay Z has acknowledged that his moniker is partially a homage to the J/Z services, which stop at Marcy Avenue, near his childhood home in Marcy Houses.[2]

R (RR)[edit]

  • The 1977 film Saturday Night Fever shows several clips of the subway, most notably Tony's ride on the RR train.

By medium[edit]

Comic books[edit]

  • In Tales of the Night Watchman #3 and #4, published by So What? Press, the story "The Dwellers of Big Bogie" takes place predominantly in the subway. A group of spider-like humanoids called Dwellers live in a cave beneath the L train in Williamsburg. It was written by Dave Kelly and illustrated by Amanda Scurti. In #3, Serena is mugged by a Dweller named Taryn while waiting for a train.[3] In #4, Nora chases Taryn into the cave and is captured by its rulers, the maniacal Vera and her husband, the eponymous Big Bogie.[4]
  • In 2018, Dave Kelly and Simon Fraser began serializing a Tales of the Night Watchman strip in the Park Slope Reader, a local Brooklyn paper. The first story, "The Ghost Train", is about the elevated train involved in the infamous Malbone Street Wreck returning to terrorize the city on the centenary of the accident. The story debuted in the paper's Spring 2018 edition, number 64.



  • The subway has a fictional station on Sesame Street. It also has appeared in some closing sequences of the series.[11]
  • The second half of the 1974 The Odd Couple episode "The Subway Story" takes place in a subway train. The episode was filmed on a set.
  • The entire All in the Family episode "Mike The Pacifist" (which aired in 1977) takes place on a subway train. A set was constructed at Television City in Hollywood, which resembled the interior of a subway train traveling toward Queens.
  • In the 1987–1989 American television series Beauty and the Beast, Vincent (the "Beast"), who lived in tunnels beneath the city (see "Mole People"), rode on top of a subway car to travel surreptitiously around the city.
  • In the 1992 Seinfeld episode "The Subway", a subway ride leads to four unique experiences. Jerry Seinfeld befriends an overweight nudist, George Costanza meets an attractive woman who invites him to her hotel room, Elaine Benes misses a lesbian wedding, and Cosmo Kramer wins a horse bet.[12]
  • In the 1993 Full House episode "Subterranean Graduation Blues", the entire family rides the subway to Jesse's graduation ceremony. Exterior shots of trains pulling in and out of stations are of the New York City Subway, but the episode takes place in San Francisco.[13]
  • The fourth episode of the second season of Courage the Cowardly Dog titled Courage in the Big Stinkin' City features Courage boarding the A train and being chased by a police officer. The train’s operator is scared off the train, which speeds out of control with Courage attempting to steer it, until it crashes into Radio City Music Hall’s rehearsal room.[14]
  • The first season of the Disney Channel sitcom Girl Meets World often contains episodes with scenes mimicking Bleecker Street (IRT Lexington Avenue Line). The show is actually filmed at Los Angeles Center Studios.
  • The seventh episode of The Defenders sees Matt Murdock, Jessica Jones and Luke Cage use the subway to travel to Midland Circle Financial after escaping police custody, however the scenes themselves were actually shot on the PATH train.
  • The TV show Forever uses the subways in three different plots. The pilot features an investigation into a subway train crash which kills 15 people and protagonist Dr. Henry Morgan.[15] In "Fountain of Youth", Abe tracks one of the NYPD's suspects through the system, prompting Henry and NYPD Detective Jo Martinez to follow him.[16] In "The Last Death of Henry Morgan", Henry and Adam confront each other in one of the abandoned tunnels, which leads to Henry's death, Adam being stabbed in the neck with a needle filled with air, and Jo finding an old photograph which shows Henry appearing unchanged since it was taken.[17]


The New York City Subway has been featured prominently in many films.

Video games[edit]



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  2. ^ Birchmeier, Jason. Jay-Z Biography. Allmusic. Retrieved August 24, 2007.
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  4. ^ "SPX Preview: Supernatural Noir Returns With 10 Pages From Tales Of The Night Watchman # 4 - Bleeding Cool News And Rumors". 4 September 2015.
  5. ^ New York Times Subway Glide
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  8. ^ "Loaded - The Velvet Underground - Songs, Reviews, Credits - AllMusic". AllMusic.
  9. ^ (News) Native New Yorker Jennifer Lopez Celebrates city's Puerto Rican Day, Lewiston Morning Tribune, June 15, 1999
  10. ^ Savage Garden diary entry for 26 August 1999 Archived 19 September 2008 at the Wayback Machine
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  19. ^ Anderson, Ken (16 October 2011). "DREAMS ARE WHAT LE CINEMA IS FOR...: YOU'RE A BIG BOY NOW 1966".
  20. ^ "What is the best car chase scene of all time?". Archived from the original on 2007-03-11. Retrieved 2007-01-09.
  21. ^ "Chevrolet Chevy Van in "Death Wish"".
  22. ^ "Oldsmobile Cutlass S in "Death Wish"".
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  24. ^ "Death Wish (1974), starring Charles Bronson (VIDEO)".
  25. ^ Dwyer, Jim, "Subway lives : 24 hours in the life of the New York City subway", Crown, 1991, ISBN 0-517-58445-X
  26. ^ Reeves, Tony. "Filming Locations for Saturday Night Fever (1977), around Bensonhurst and Bay Ridge in Brooklyn".
  27. ^ "The Warriors Trip From Coney Island to Dyre Avenue in the Bronx Revisited".
  28. ^ "Movies Filmed at 59th St - Columbus Circle Station — Movie Maps".
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  32. ^ "Die Hard: With a Vengeance (1995) corrections".
  33. ^ "Money Train Film Locations - On the set of New".
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  35. ^ Marking Time In Movie Land. "Subway Stories". Retrieved 2011-01-04.
  36. ^ "Little Nicky (Hollywood Jesus)".
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  38. ^ "Lower Bay's New York Makeover - Transit Toronto - Content".
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  40. ^ THESSALONIAN31N (28 October 2014). "The Brave One Subway Scene" – via YouTube.
  41. ^ "'Knowing' crew lets you in on the secrets of that subway crash". 26 March 2009.
  42. ^ "Inside Llewyn Davis (2013) movie mistakes, goofs and bloopers".
  43. ^ "ESPN Classic - Great Subway Series moments".
  44. ^ "Photos 1-25 of 25".
  45. ^ "REMNANTS OF THE NINTH AVENUE EL - Forgotten New York".
  46. ^ Perez-Pena, Richard (July 15, 1993). "Aficionado Of Subway Spared Prison". The New York Times. Retrieved March 29, 2008.