New York subway etiquette campaign from the 40s and 50s would play well today

please don't be a.....
Public Domain Amelia Opdyke Jones/ New York Transit Museum

Plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose.

It seems that people are complaining about "manspreading" everywhere, but it is just one of the offenses that make riding the subway totally aggravating. I think the worst is the doorblocker; then there is the litterbug, helped along by all those free newspapers they give out now; the space hog and the leg pest. And it turns out these are not new things, and they happen everywhere, and they always have.

doorblockerAmelia Opdyke Jones/ New York Transit Museum/Public Domain

That's the lesson from these great posters from the New York Transit Museum, From spitting to spreading: Subway etiquette then and now. I am going to take this doorblocker one and make a sticker of it and stick it on every subway door.

manspreaderAmelia Opdyke Jones/ New York Transit Museum/Public Domain

Evidently this was always a thing. The ads were drawn in the late forties and fifties by Amelia Opdyke-Jones in the "Subway Sun" series. She signed her drawings as "Oppy" and was known as "the subway surrealist." One source claims that she invented the term "litterbug."

wait for peopleAmelia Opdyke Jones/ New York Transit Museum/Public Domain

I so hate people who do this. In the latest designs for Toronto subway cars they actually widened the doors to account for the people who stand in them or try to push in while people are pushing out. They had to give up seating and plan for jerks.

dont sit where you don't fitAmelia Opdyke Jones/ New York Transit Museum/Public Domain

This one would not play well today. Subway seats are no wider than they used to be, but people are. I am not sure that telling fat people to stand is fair.

There are a few other offenses that Oppy might draw about today, listed on this card from the Toronto Etiquette project. The smelly food is particularly common and obnoxious.

Related Content on