A Love Story: the Subway and the Bench

In a way the subway is the epitome of a culmination of objects creating a single, whole atmospheric vibe. You have your clearly labeled signs signaling locations, your wide empty spaces meant for an abundance of New Yorkers, tourists, etc. alike, your trains with sleek metal frames and bright directional signs all pointing towards a message of “I will take you somewhere, anywhere and efficiently”. However, I would like to focus on what lies inside a Brooklyn-City Hall train going uptown and specifically on a blue bench attached to its indoor walls. Automatically, the connotation of a bench tends to leave one with two assumptions: 1) the expectance of people and 2) a sense of being welcome (in the sense that you are allowed to sit and rest, stay, or watch the area in which you are in) in a certain area, especially if it is public. Naturally, when I found the chance to see a suddenly empty bench on a the normally train my first reaction was “this never happens”. Next, I thought about how an object as simple as a bench can bring a presence to a subway train. It allows for a subconscious influence to one’s mind in which they are invited to literally sit and wait while the train takes them where they need to go which in turn contributes to the atmosphere by being welcoming and trustworthy (because does one not trust the service that has been provided to transport them safely and quickly to where they need to go?). The intention of the subway engineers, to be a comfortable and trustworthy means of transport, was most definitely justified by the presence of this bench among other things.

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