Subway Lives: 24 Hours in the Life of the New York City Subway

Jim Dwyer, Author, David Groff, Editor Crown Publishers $20 (0p) ISBN 978-0-517-58445-3
This isn't likely to find many readers west of the Hudson, but residents of New York City's boroughs should take note, for although one doesn't expect to be enthralled by a virtual monograph on the New York City subway, talent will out and Dwyer brings it off. The well-integrated statistical material is impressive: the subway transports 3.7 million paying riders daily, plus an estimated 169,000 turnstile jumpers; the Transit Authority's ``money room'' is the ``world's busiest private currency processing enterprise''; the system is the only one anywhere to operate 24 hours a day. The book makes us privy to TA politics and profiles managers, including David Gunn, who solved the graffiti problem, saving the system $10 million annually in cleanups. Verging on the smarmy, however, are some of the human interest stories, one about a welfare mother giving birth on the subway, another of a retarded boy taking his first solo ride. Dwyer, a New York Newsday reporter whose beat is the subway, presents a balanced depiction of the crime that makes riders fearful, not sensationalizing its frequency. And he's on the mark when he comments, ``Only in the dim warrens of the subway . . . can the full spectrum of city life . . . be glimpsed, felt, and at times even understood.'' (Nov.)
Reviewed on: 09/30/1991
Release date: 10/01/1991
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