Think The N Line Is Bad? Check Out The B Train Circa 1987 [Video]

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We love to complain about the decrepit state of the graffiti-plastered N line, but thanks to Youtube — and some diligent videographers — we can jet back to a time when train rides were filled with many more hazards: the 1980s.

This revealing clip, aptly titled “Train Ride to Coney Island,” takes us on a journey through the eyes of video artist Nelson Sullivan, on a trip to the entertainment district with journalist Michael Musto, artist Albert Crudo, photographer Liz Lizard, and two kids — all of them wearing amazing 80s-tastic attire, of course. Watch them ride the grimy, graffiti-scribbled B (now the D) train from Union Square, through Bensonhurst, and into Coney Island on June 20, 1987.

Fortunately, much of the screen time is dedicated to the Brooklyn side of the now-D tracks, and we catch glimpses of all the familiar subway stops (Crudo enters the train at 71st Street at 2:50). Some landmarks flashing by are long gone, such as Loew’s Oriental Theatre (4:26), which was closed in 1995 and now houses a Marshall’s. Others haven’t changed at all, like that big black Bay Parkway sign (seen at 4:54) we know and love.

We also get an unfortunate closeup of Crudo’s webbed toes (4:00), along with plenty of shots of graffiti and crumpled newspapers.

Check out the video and let us know what you think in the comments!

  • Emily Ann Frances May

    What a find! Parts of New Utrecht Avenue shown here are almost the same today.

  • Max Temnogorod

    Very cool clip. Turns out it was actually the B line back then: http://www.nycsubway.org/perl/caption.pl?/img/maps/system_1987.gif (yellow here, but you can see the sign across the platform when they get to Stillwell).

  • The Wall Breakers

    @mdarkcity:disqus yup, in 2001 when the W and Diamond Q were introduced due to work on the Broadway side of the Manhattan bridge, we lost the B and D in those areas, but when they switched back in 2004 for some reason the B Line began running the D and the D began running the B. I never understood why the MTA didn’t just put it back to the way it was instead of switching the train line names.

  • lurock

    great video, but doesn’t seem any different an experience than if you would take the train to stillwell today. trains had a lot more graffiti back then obviously, but that’s about it. cool stuff!

  • Emerald5Forever

    I wish the theater stayed.

  • Bill

    that boy is cute – then – must be in his 40’s now