149TH STREET GRAND CONCOURSE
The Writer's Bench
The last active location was the 149th Street Grand Concourse subway station in The Bronx, on the 2 and 5 IRT lines. It was active from the 1970s until the decline of subway painting in the late 1980s.
Writers from all over the city congregated at a bench located at the back of the uptown platform. They came to meet, make plans, sign black books and settle disputes. The main activity was watching art on the passing trains (known as benching). The writers would admire and criticize the latest paintings.
This station was an ideal location for a writer's bench for several reasons. It was a station where the 2 and 5 lines converged. The 2 and 5 lines featured some of the most artistic works in the city. The fact that many lay-ups and train yards for the 2s and 5s were located in both the Bronx and Brooklyn made creativity on these lines extremely competitive. An overpass connecting the uptown and downtown platforms was an ideal vantage point from which to view the passing trains.
Since paintings rarely if ever run on trains today, this bench is no longer frequented by writers. Old school New York writers occasionally visit the site for the sake of nostalgia. Writers post 1989 and writers from outside New York City occasionally visit it as a historical location.
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