This is to feed your curiosity on navigating the subway especially if you’ve never been to the City.
Part of the charm is not knowing which trains to take by learning as you go.
I pretended to be a local during my first subway experience except for the part where I was holding a huge paper map. I guess I looked confused staring at it that a local approached me and asked, “Where do you want to go?” then telling me where to stop and which trains to take. Despite the help, I did not make it to my Central Park bike tour since subways, apparently, also have traffic jams. As you can imagine, this paper map is a repellent for fellow tourists while a magnet for locals.
For which A paper map can give you what a digital map can’t.
I am not saying that using digital maps is less of an adventure, it still is! The most important learning that I got from a paper map though is that regardless of which trains you take and in whatever sequence you take them, you will still get to your destination and will do so without spending more money. The key is to make sure you don’t exit the turnstiles and just do your very best to figure it out. The only advantage of using digital maps is that it won’t be obvious that you are a tourist (since for some reason, this bothers some people) and that the directions are ranked from the quickest to the slowest way of getting to your destination. So it’s all about what’s important to you!
coming from a city where commuting is not a thing.
I limited myself to subtle glances to observe the locals on how they lived. And what fascinated me is how stable they were when standing even on an express train and how they would wake up just in time for their stop. It turns out, you develop a habit!
If the uncertainty terrifies you, then you can study the subway first before getting here. A mistake that you don’t want to make is grabbing a cab or a ride-share to quickly reach a spot, only to find that using the subway takes the same amount of time.
The takeaway here is that the New York subway system is an attraction and not just a means to get to one.
Happy New York City-ing!