NYC: Subway experts share their sightseeing tips

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This spring, brother and sister team Jonathan and Ashley Wegener spent the greater part of two months underground, collecting data for their new iPhone application, Exit Strategy NYC ($3). Designed to save precious rush hour minutes, the app tells harried commuters which subway car and door will feed them directly to the exit.

After visiting an estimated 200 stops throughout the city, the duo shared with us some of the tips they've learned.

Budget Travel: Your app is all about getting above ground as quickly as possible. Are there any stops that actually made you want to stick around?

Ashley: At the Yankee Stadium stop [161st Street/River Avenue, Bronx], there's cool art, such as black and white pyramid benches built into the wall.

Jonathan: A thousand little Tom Otterness bronze sculptures are all over the 14th Street stop on the A/C/E. You look around, and you start to find little round people everywhere. My favorite is a figurine trying to sneak under a gate, but a mini police officer is standing there waiting for him.

Ashley: And at 34th Street on the N/R/W, there's a green music box. It sounds like you're in a rainforest if you wave your hand in front of it. You have to jump up to reach it.

Speaking of subway sounds, did you hear any interesting music while you were down there?

Jonathan: Definitely. Where else could you hear Britney Spears on an electric violin? It was by this cool artist named Michael Shulman. I recorded him on my iPhone at Grand Central. [Recording, here.]

Any subways stops to avoid, if you can?

Ashley: Columbus Circle is under construction. It's crazy to get around there.

When you ventured outside, did you find any lunch spots worth a trip to the outer boroughs?

Ashley: Off the 7 train in Long Island City in Queens, I had a great roasted veggie sandwich at Sage General Store. There are a lot of industrial buildings in the area, but this shop is old-fashioned. They have a wood-burning stove and chalkboards with the specials written by hand.

Jonathan: A place called City Sub, near the Bergen Street 2/3 in Brooklyn. It looks like a regular sub shop, but they have the best sandwiches in Brooklyn. I get the Number 15— pastrami-seasoned turkey with Monterey Jack on a long sesame-seed roll.

Ashley: Mine's the Number 22: smoked turkey, smoked ham, and smoked gouda. The best part is that you can have the whole sandwich heated, or you can toast the bread alone.

Did you leave the subway for anything other than food?Ashley: We mostly looked for restrooms. There are actually bathrooms in some stations, but they're gross. Emergencies only. Bring your own toilet paper, and hold your breath.

Jonathan: The iPhone app SitOrSquat was really helpful for locating the closest bathrooms in neighborhoods we didn't know.

Care to impart any etiquette tips for new riders?

Ashley: It's like an elevator: Let people off the car before you get on.

Jonathan: Don't look anyone in the eye!

Ashley: He's kidding.

Jonathan: But seriously, don't.


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