Date: Mon, 3 Feb 1997 11:58:02 EST
From: Larry Horn LHORN[AT SYMBOL GOES HERE]YALEVM.CIS.YALE.EDU
Subject: The City -Reply
Mark Mandel responds to David Bergdahl's query--
David Bergdahl (614) 593-2783 asks:
I have a question about the "real New Yorkers"--do they (as I do) refer
to Idlewild rather than JFK and do they use the old subway line routes in
conversation (AA, GG, BB rather than 1, 9, &c)?
(who moved out on the island--Feb 1942)
Well, I called it Idlewild for a while, but then adapted to the change. I may
have been more linguistically flexible: I'm at least 6 years younger than
you, on the evidence.
I think of the numbered subway lines as being only on the IRT, and the
BMT and IND lines as lettered. I refer to the lines that I remember, most
notably the D and F trains. AA: was that the 8th Ave. local?
But I haven't lived there for many years.
Neither have I, but I share Mark's judgments. "Idlewild" hung around for a
while and would still be understood by anyone of my generation or older, but I
would never use it anymore; in this respect it's quite different from that
other shibboleth someone brought up here, "Avenue of the Americas" vs. "Sixth
Avenue", where the former never caught on. It's partly a Least Effort Pheno-
menon effect, I imagine, where the shorter JFK is a useful designation, but
Sixth Avenue is both shorter and more motivated by the system than is Avenue of
On the subway lines, as far as I know Mark is right; AA is still in use (like
other IND and BMT line trains) for the 8th Avenue local--it's the one I used to
go home on when I lived in Washington Heights so I'm sure \I/ would still call
it the AA, even if no one else did. But the IRT (Broadway Local and Lex Ave)
lines were designated by numbers then (1-6) and still are.