All aboard! First stop, Teabag Junction. Next up, Fried Chicken Street. Hold on, passengers, because we’re almost at Cracklins Heights. Missed your stop? Get off at Bagel Avenue for a quick break. Do it soon, because last stop on this train is Slumgullion. Wait—where are we? If visions of New York City popped into your head, then Rick Meyerowitz has done his job well in creating: the Sub-Culinary Map of NYC. You don’t have to live in the Big Apple to get a kick out of this awesome piece of work; you just have to love food.
What’s this Sub-Culinary Map all about? Is it a subway map, or a food map? What’s going on here?
You’ve just entered creator Rick Meyerowitz’s vision of the city in terms of food. If you are familiar with NYC, you know that each borough, each neighborhood, hell, each street corner has its own unique character (more so than virtually any other city in the country!). Walk three blocks east and you’ll smell funky fish sauce emanating from Chinese markets. Walk four blocks south and you’re nearly run down by a food cart vendor pushing tandoori and mint samosas. Now 4 blocks west and your nose is flooded with the smokiness of grilled hot dogs, sausages, and meats coming from a slew of delis. This unmatched culinary diversity, hungry friends, was the impetus behind Meyerowitz’s map.
Using the research skills of a true food historian, Meyerowitz and his creative partner dined for months in restaurants, bodegas, cafes, and food carts along each street of New York. They consulted cookbooks, encyclopedias, foodie friends, chefs, family members—leaving no rock unturned, they scoured every culinary crack in the paved city, and duly noted what they found.
The resulting work of art: a fully remodeled MTA Subway Map, where all 486 stations have been renamed, every neighborhood, park, cemetery, waterway given a culinary handle. So that your stop along any given line on any given subway route leads you not to a street name, but a culinary destination.
You won’t find the actual names of real establishments on the map either; rather, you’ll find nicknames and pseudonyms, aptly named for the essence of the food. Hill of Beans, Mango Pickle Street, Anchovy Avenue—these are the true markings of a proper map.
Fellow New Yorkers, download this map. Fold it, put it in your pocket, and use it. Use it often. For many a time has the hungry person wandered through Manhattan with a craving for warm, buttery seafood, but felt too overwhelmed to find it. With the Sub-Culinary Map, one would know clearly: Oysters Rockefeller Center, just three more stops on the Orange Line, one block to the west, and there you are.
Image adapted from ryan.hoffman, Flickr, Creative Commons 2.0