Date: Mon, 3 Feb 1997 11:58:02 EST


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)

--by noting:

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

the Americas.

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.