Growing up, I considered Brooklyn College – Flatbush Avenue, the Brooklyn terminus of the 2 and 5 subway lines, to be my home station. Being at the terminus of a line was a badge of honor I wore with pride at the beginning of a journey because I’d never have to compete with anyone for a seat on the train, and it was a prolonged pain at the end of the day because not only did I have to endure every. single. stop. on the way to the last one, but the train also did that thing where it pulls into the last station extraaa slowly, making me thaaat much more antsy for release from my moving, metal prison.
Every once in a while I’d wonder what it would be like to ride the 2 or the 5 all the way to the other end of the line in the Bronx. But that idea was always scraped after considering that it would be at least a two-hour ride on the subway (I don’t know about you, but my subway tolerance taps out at an hour and a half; one hour if I’m standing). There would have to be something really worthwhile at the other side to make me put up with the MTA for such an extended period. I’ve recently learned that there are actually some things worth slow trudge north to Wakefield – 241st Street and Nereid Avenue in the Bronx. And, according to Amy Plitt and Kyle Knoke, it’s not just the Bronx ends of the 2 and the 5 trains that are worth seeing, but the ends of all NYC’s subway lines. Their book “Subway Adventure Guide: New York City: To the End of the Line” reveals all the interesting things at the ends of the lines that we’ve been missing out on.
My personal gripes about long subway rides aside, “Subway Adventure Guide: New York City” is based off a pretty cool concept: as New Yorkers, we’re familiar with the names of the stops at the ends of the lines, but unless it’s your destination, you’ve most likely haven’t been to these terminals and seen what’s there. Fortunately for us, Plitt and Knoke have already done all the hard work of going to the ends of each of NYC’s 27 subway lines, and in a little over 200 pages they bringing to light what’s special about these neighborhoods above ground. Along with neighborhood overviews, the book offers suggestions on what to check out while you’re there (Spoiler: lots of good food recs).
As most of the subway lines end in the outer boroughs, most of the neighborhood highlights, — with the exception of the F train/Stillwell Ave – Coney Island recommendations, because there’s not much else you can say about Coney Island that’s surprising at this point — are off the beaten path. Who would have thought there’s a plaque marking an African Burial Grounds near the New Lots Avenue stop, and that Court Square is home to the Elevator Historical Society Museum? There were even some surprises in store for me at the book’s section on Brooklyn College – Flatbush Avenue (How could I have passed by Bulletproof Comics all these years without going inside?!).
Speaking of surprises, this is one of the few books about exploring the city that I’ve encountered so far that actually dives deep into the Bronx and pulls out a lot of gems, concerning both food and things to do. Partially because six train lines end in the borough, the Bronx was this book’s strength. Good food, nature, and breath-taking architecture can all be found there hidden in plain sight. This section of “Subway Adventure Guide: New York City” will definitely be something I’ll refer back to as I explore the Bronx more.
Overall, “Subway Adventure Guide: New York City: To the End of the Line” is one of the few guidebooks that both tourists and locals can benefit from. It’s a much-needed reminder that these places in NYC are a lot more than dots on the subway map and they are worth going out of your way to see.