On Monday night, as I transferred at the West 14th Street 1/2/3 station, I was startled to encounter a completely sanded-down subway bench. Or maybe suspicious is the correct term—does sandpaper kill bedbugs?
One set of subway benches plus half of another set, all on the uptown side, have been buffed down to naked wood. Upon seeing my photos, some instant reactions from coworkers ranged from, "This is very satisfying for some reason" to "This is something out of a Danish ski lodge!" Improv Everywhere, please deliver some sheepskin pelts and midcentury couch legs to the station immediately.
The MTA has been replacing some wooden benches with stainless steel ones, though the selection seems kind of random. For example, the Hudson Yards station got the classic wooden benches, but the Second Avenue Subway stations and recently reopened Cortlandt Street station have stainless steel seats. Interestingly, the newly renovated 110th Street-Cathedral Parkway B/C station has modern wood-and-metal benches, almost straight out of a West Elm catalog.
We've asked the MTA what these subway benches did to deserve a complete makeover, and will update when they reply. For now, just let your imagination run wild...