Ancient Sites of New York City 3: Minotaur on the Subway

On August 1st, 1918 the 42 st shuttle opened between Union Station and Time’s Square. IT was closed the next day due to chaos described in The New York Times as follows:

One of the reasons for the confusion was that there was no way of passengers knowing which direction they needed to go out of the shuttle since the stations lacked guide lines. Meyer Berger, writing in The New York Times on the verge of a new renovation to the line (that never came to fruition) describes the story of the addition of these guide lines as follows:

CLASSICISTS will be delighted to learn that the original green and red guide lines in the subway shuttle system, which are being superseded by fluorescent directionals stemmed directly from the legend of Theseus’ slaying of the Minotaur in the labyrinth in Crete.

HE tells the tale of a dinner party where Charles Hubbell, a district chairman of the New York Public Service commission, was stumped as what to do about the closure. His son-in-law, a Mr. Derby, ‘not long out of college’ brought up the myth of Theseus and the Minotaur and the guiding thread given to the Athenian hero by Ariadne. Mr. Hubbell ‘leaped at the idea’ and green and red lines were added to the stations to guide the passengers.

Goldsmith quotes Berger(p. 102) as follows:

The green and red guide lines in the subway shuttle system stem directly from the legend of Theseus’ slaying of the Minotaur in the labyrinth in Crete.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *