Traveling to New York City

Journey with Gina Greenlee and other women travelers as they share 118 postcards "filled with life lessons learned while traveling on their own" in Postcards and Pearls; Life Lessons from Solo Moments in New York

  24 Hours in NYC


Favorite Strolls

High Line Linear Park (Video Tour)

High Line Linear Park (History)

Meatpacking District

Chelsea, Chelsea Piers, Hudson River Park

  Brooklyn Bridge

Postcards and Pearls

Life Lessons from Solo Moments in New York
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Five Must-HaveTips for Riding the Hole in the Ground

tip1 With its Jackson Pollack visual aesthetic, the Transit Authority Subway Map is pretty. Not particularly useful. Take one as a souvenir.

The best way to navigate the subway: Ask. Forget Hollywood’s depiction of New Yorkers. We don’t bite. We move and talk fast and with intensity. (How else could we live there?) This is often mistaken for rudeness.

We LOVE it when visitors ask for subway directions. We understand the challenges of the world’s largest system and want folks to reach their destinations without mishagos.

When the friend you are staying with, hotel concierge or transit employee tells you, “Take the D to Columbus Circle and transfer to the A” or “take the 6 to Grand Central and transfer to the Shuttle to catch the 1,” don’t freak. Find your first train first. Board. On that train, ask another New Yorker to direct you to where to catch the second train. When you disembark your final train and climb the stairs to street level, you may wonder, “Where the heck am I?” Find a third New Yorker and tell her the street and avenue for your destination. Do not bother with the numbered address. New York-speak involves street and avenue intersections: “Excuse me, I’m trying to get to 21st Street and Eighth Avenue, which way is that?”


The subway system uses colors to identify different train lines. Apart from the Transit Authority’s operational and cartographic uses, colors mean zilch to subway-riding New Yorkers.

No New York resident says the “blue line, green line, orange line.” We neither know nor care about train line color codes. We know: train number, letter or the avenue it travels such as Lexington, Eighth, Broadway.

When asking for directions refer to each train line by its number or letter as in the “F train, D train, the number 1, number 6.” Referring to train lines by color invites a sideways glance. A visitor once asked me to direct him to the “orange line.” I stared blankly for 10 seconds trying to map the color to the letter with which I had been familiar all my life. “Oh, you mean the F train!”

The one exception to the numbers and letters rule is The Shuttle. It bears the letter S in a grey circle. If you ask a New Yorker to direct you to the “S train,” you’ll elicit a momentary blank look. The train that rides two tracks back and forth between Grand Central and Times Square is called The Shuttle.


New York City is practically Disneyworld compared to when I was growing up during the hardscrabble 60s and 70s. No need for anxiety about safety. That said, in any large metro area, one should keep one’s eyes in back of one’s head. I know many women who love NYC but in whom the subway instills terror. Fuggedaboutit. It’s the sanest and fastest way to travel the apple.

When in subterranean milieu, do as the New Yorker does: If someone boards the train and looks iffy, no visitor drama. Resist the urge to change seats or subway cars. Replace terror with bluff on your forehead. And for the love of Saint Patrick, don’t stare. Then do as the New Yorker does. No eye contact. Business as usual. It’s just, well, a New York moment. If, however, the New Yorker is looking concerned, only then should you be, too. New Yorkers have superhuman instincts for subterranean drama. If they bolt, you bolt. If they sit and read the paper then enjoy your ride.

tip5 Think you’re ahead of the game by jumping into an empty subway car you’ve spotted as it rolled into the station? Think again. The car is empty for a reason. New Yorkers may not be able to discern at a glance what that is. Neither do they care. The salient data: empty car = I’m not getting in. In a system that large and densely populated, safety – along with a drama-free, air conditioned ride – is in numbers.


Favorite Rides

NYC Subway

How to Ride the Subway

  Staten Island Ferry