New Yorkers spend an extraordinarily amount of time in subways and subway stations, going to and from work, going out at night, going to a friend's on the weekend, or going out to restaurants. Subway stations are the melting pot of every living soul coming into the city and every New Yorker trying to get somewhere. I personally spend an average of 1.5 hours to 2 hours a day underground, between waiting for the subway and taking it. That's 672 hours a year; in other words 28 days a year spent in an underground tin can, bunched up between two other smelly passengers, each silently cursing the other. So while I am not complaining that I spend the equivalent of the month of February in a brightly lit, overly air-conditioned (thank god) subway cart, I do wonder whether I can make better use of my time while underground.
Some people are adamant on getting on the subway
We meet men and women in bars and clubs. We get to know new people at restaurants and coffee shops. But why not meet them somewhere we are forced to spend time in waiting. Because you would come off just as creepy as the guy secretly eyeing your purse, you say? Perhaps. But perhaps you are just looking in the wrong station, in the wrong setting. I took it upon myself to conduct an experiment or some research, if you will, by research I mean just riding around the subway in both directions and waiting at subway stops. For the purpose of this post, I will only deal with subway stops in Manhattan for two reasons. The first, is that I am unfamiliar with the outer borough stations and locales, and therefore would not be a very good judge of where to go. The second, is that Manhattan, specifically midtown and downtown is the melting pot of all the people coming in from the boroughs, New Jersey, and Upstate, thereby allowing a larger sample size for this experiment.
Before I begin, I just want to reiterate that these views and observations are exactly that, subjective views and observations I have had. They are by no means meant to be discriminatory, insulting, or condescending.
From my previous experiences on the subway, I know that Upper East Side stops tend to have an older or more couply crowd who have generally settled down. Similarly, Upper West Side stops, although have a generally younger crowd due to Columbia University, have many families passing through it on their way to and from Morningside and Washington Heights. So the stops will be crowded, and generally not a good environment for conversation. However, it has to be said that the 72nd st subway station has to be one of the most beautiful stations in New York. It also attracts some young and professional Upper West Siders who wouldn't be opposed to some light conversation here and there.
Morning commute to the 72nd St Station
On the southern extreme of the city, the Financial District and Battery Park subway stops have too few people in the stations past business hours. And, unless they have a certain inclination to getting kidnapped or mugged, people usually barely ever interact with other people in those stops past business hours.
(Spring St, Prince St): Good during the week when the area is not filled with weekend shoppers. Has many beautiful and stylish men and women, with a few models here and there. However, because of the sheer number of tourists and teens running around, the beautiful locals are less likely to engage in a conversation with you.
Fun in the Astor Place station
(8th st, Astor Place): Very good if you are younger and are looking for students, or into the East Village crowd. These two stops are usually more relaxed than others and feature more people willing to talk to you. The proximity to St Mark's means that you will also get a good mix of the Goth type in between.
Lower East Side Stops
(2nd ave, Delancy, Essex): The population of homeless people in the stops are more than that of passengers. You are more likely to get breathed on by a homeless person, mugged by someone on crack, or get carried away by the giant rats than you are of finding someone willing to engage in a conversation with you here. Especially avoid at night. Essex stop... isn't that just water?
Canal St Station
(Canal St, Grand St, Bowery): Unless you like the smell of week-old fried chicken, mixed with diarrhea, rat poison, and fish, while you try to find someone to converse with, I would steer clear.
Times Sq/Herald Sq Stops
(42nd/34th on West side): The number of tourists that pass by these stations is horrendous. Not only do you have to weed through the countless over-sized midwesterners, you also have to make sure the tiny old women with the small shopping carts don't run over your feet. If you managed to find a person worth talking to through the vast sea of people, good luck trying to have a conversation with them over the shirtless homeless person singing in the corner, or the occasional 'Get the F*** out of my way!'.
A typical day in the Times Square Subway Station
Midtown East Stops
(51st St, 53rd St, & 59th St): Midtown east is my most promising location for during the week, since it's where most of the city culminates to go to their work place. You will have a good number of well dressed, professional men and women around these stations. However, if you are not into the corporate crowd, then it might be harder to meet someone new here. If you are looking for men, then your selection around the 51st & Lexington (E,6) stop will be a good one, since most of the good looking professional men get off/on there. If you are looking for a woman, I think the 59th & 5th (N,R) and the 53rd & 5th (E,M) stops will have a good number of women, who will usually be dressed very stylishly, elegantly, and professionally, due to the high end clothing stores, and boutiques around that stop.
(E 23rd, 28th, 33rd): I personally think Gramercy stops have the most approachable people of any other stops. There are some very cute men and women at those subway stations who don't mind engaging in a conversation with a complete stranger. The thing about Gramercy stops is that they are usually cleaner and quieter than others, so people will naturally feel more at ease there, thus they will usually have their guard down. 23rd st & 28th st on the 6 line will have the cutest, most approachable women, and some good boyfriend-material guys.
Catching up on some news
(W 23rd, 28th): Chelsea stops are usually dirtier and more crowded than their eastern counterparts. They are not as bad as the times sq and herald sq stops and will have interesting people willing to talk to you, however, they usually won't be as engaging as Gramercy, Soho, or meatpacking due to the big malls and shops in that area that attract a lot of families or shopping-minded people. Nevertheless, those Chelsea stops are good for drunken nights waiting in the stations, since you will never know what to expect from the Chelsea crowd.
(W 4th): The west village would have seemed an obvious choice, however it has to be said that the W 4th st subway station is a bad place to approach people, especially women. The sheer size of the station not to mention the dirtiness, the suspicious bundle in the corner, and just the overall weirdness hanging around that station make it an unenjoyable location to meet people. Women will most certainly have their guard up, making it very difficult to approach them. Not to mention, you will be more preoccupied with the several cross-dressers, drag queens and just plain weird people that regularly pass through this station.
(14th & 8th): In my opinion, the meatpacking subway station (14th & 8th on the A, C, E, & L) will have the best looking, most beautiful, and most stylish men and women of any other subway stop. Meatpacking in general is a very trendy and stylish area, filled with good restaurants, crazy clubs, and good drunken memories. The people that attend these venues are usually copies of the clubs they are attending, whether they belong to the rock & roll, the European dance, or the posh and exclusive crowd. Men and women at this location will usually have their guard down since they are on their way to go out, so approaching them will be easy. However, be warned, these men and women will want to play games, so expect a long night of flirting, partying, and drinking.
One of the many fun sculptures on the 14th st & 8th ave (Meatpacking) subway stop
In conclusion, depending on what crowd your after, there are different subway stations that cater to your liking. Just like the different bars and clubs have different vibes, so do these underground melting pots. Pick a station that fits the type of person you're looking for, and you are more likely to spark up a conversation that can go somewhere... other than your subway destination that is.
Into the younger, more relaxed Student crowd:
Astor pl & Bleecker stops
Into the cute, approachable crowd:
28th st & 23rd st Stops
Into the trendy outgoing crowd:
14th st & 8th ave (aka Meatpacking).
Into the professional refined crowd:
59th & 5th during the week.