Stand Clear Of The Summer Heat, Please

Here's how today's subway riders are *trying* to stay cool.

Published

Nothing says stepping onto a subway platform in July like a rush of hot wet air tinged with the musk and perspiration of your fellow travelers. One could turn batter into brownie in the tunnels of the Metropolitan Transit Authority if you left a baking pan down there long enough. New Yorkers, ever crafty, have figured out methods for regulating their temperature on their commutes. If you stand on a subway platform on a hot day this month, you’ll see chilled water bottles pressed against the napes of sweaty necks, makeshift fans made of office documents, flyers and magazines, loose fitting clothing, the absence of clothing, and the ever classic wipe-your-weary-brow-with-the-back-of-your-hand method.


As many as 4 million people ride the subway each day in New York, all with unique wisdom on braving the heat during the summer. For Byline’s Heatwave issue, I asked commuters: “What are your tips and tricks for staying cool on the subway?” Here's what they said.




#1 Play the Flute


Adrian, 25

Screenshot 2023-07-17 at 10.06.49 AM.png


Occupation: data scientist, musician

Favorite subway line: the J because he can call his mom

Hot Tip: “I’m a bit of a weird scenario. I distract myself. You know, I got this flute with me that I carry all the time, so when there’s a long wait, whether it’s cool or hot in the summer, I bust out my flute and do the, like, he sings a vocal scale while motioning playing the flute and then suddenly it’s like 10 minutes later and the train’s here.”


#2 Wear a Kilt


Caleb, 21

Screenshot 2023-07-17 at 10.08.35 AM.png


Occupation: intern for a men’s design wear team

Favorite subway line: the L is his number one “by far.”

Hot Tip: “Today, I’m wearing a kilt. I keep my shirt unbuttoned maybe a little bit more than I should. It’s so hot sometimes so I dress appropriately. I try to wear a light shirt, roll up my sleeves.”


#3 Brave It


Veronica, 22

Screenshot 2023-07-17 at 10.10.45 AM.png


Occupation: accountant

Favorite subway line: the J if she had to pick

Hot Tip: “I try to wear very light clothing. As a personal choice, I try not to wear pants or a sweater. You just have to brave it, I guess.”

“Today, I’m wearing a kilt. I keep my shirt unbuttoned maybe a little bit more than I should. It’s so hot sometimes so I dress appropriately. I try to wear a light shirt, roll up my sleeves.”

#4 Prioritize Beverages


Aicha, 24 & Shakeem, 24

Screenshot 2023-07-17 at 10.13.09 AM.png


Occupation: retail & music, respectively

Favorite subway line:

Aicha: the AC line

Shakeem: the J because it takes him to Brooklyn, Manhattan and Queens

Hot Tip: Aicha: “Always bring a bottle of water.”

Shakeem: “Beverages.”

Aicha: “Yeah, beverages. Stay hydrated. You can also bring a towel, for when your face gets sweaty.”


#5 Hop on the Subway


Asia, 27

Screenshot 2023-07-17 at 10.14.02 AM.png


Occupation: works as a manager, accountant

Favorite subway line: the L because it’s comes so often

Hot Tip: “Just go into the subway, there’s AC blasting. You just have to survive.”


#6 Listen to Music


JJ, 29

Screenshot 2023-07-17 at 10.16.12 AM.png


Occupation: tennis coach

Favorite subway line: the D because it’s easy to come into Manhattan from Harlem

Hot Tip: “Music. That’s how I stay calm.” Apart from that? “Water.”


#7 Carry a Small Fan


Leo, 88

Screenshot 2023-07-17 at 10.19.28 AM.png


Occupation: retired, former composer

Favorite subway line: none

Hot Tip: “I do not use anything special. In previous years, when I lived in Brooklyn I was using small ventilator that had the chain around my neck. Small ventilator. That’s it.”

“Just go into the subway, there’s AC blasting. You just have to survive.”

#8 Stay Strategically Fashionable


Devin, 25

Screenshot 2023-07-17 at 10.21.15 AM.png


Occupation: assistant fashion designer

Favorite subway line: the AC because he never sees anyone he knows there (unlike the L)

Hot Tip: “I’m really big on short shorts, jeans that have big holes in them. I have this pair of Peter Do jeans that are really cool and have a really big slit in them so I can wear them and stay fashionable. And I don’t look like I’m in destitution to stay cold.”


#9 Wear as Little as Possible


Ria, 23 & Trey, 23


Screenshot 2023-07-17 at 10.22.46 AM.png


Occupation: bartender & retail merchandise buying, respectively

Favorite subway line:

Ria: the J because it has a bunch of Tinder ads and Trey is banned from Tinder

Trey: the J because it multiple thrift stores along its route

Hot Tip: Trey: “Really thin material.” motions to their mesh backless shirt

Ria: “Yeah. No one’s wearing clothes.”


#10 Wear Light Loose-Fitting Clothing


Max, 28

Screenshot 2023-07-17 at 10.23.45 AM.png


Occupation: house painter

Favorite subway line: the Q because it’s clean

Hot Tip: “Wear light loose-fitting clothing. That’s it.”


#11 Risk the Catcall


Mickey, 25

Screenshot 2023-07-17 at 10.24.36 AM.png


Occupation: actor, works in social media

Favorite subway line: the J because she can get to the Lower East Side, Williamsburg and Bushwick all within 20 minutes

Hot Tip: “Well, if I'm going to work out, I don't want anything extra and I just risk the catcall. I think that's worth it. But if I feel like I look too risque, I'll wear a white button up, a crisp button up, over the outfit, and I can take it off when I get to the function.”

“If I'm going to work out, I don't want anything extra and I just risk the catcall. I think that's worth it. But if I feel like I look too risque, I'll wear a white button up, a crisp button up, over the outfit, and I can take it off when I get to the function.”

#12 Prioritize Comfort


AJ, 30

Screenshot 2023-07-17 at 10.26.17 AM.png


Occupation: as of last week, opera singer

Favorite subway line: the A because it’s quick and convenient

Hot Tip: “Don’t overdress for nothing in the summer. Prioritize comfortable, prioritize comfy. I have my water with me, you know, general hydration, just like wearing loose clothing. Don’t try to impress, just be comfy.”


#13 Complain


Kayla, 29

Screenshot 2023-07-17 at 10.27.19 AM.png


Occupation: works in marketing

Favorite subway line: the J or the M because she takes them the most

Hot Tip: “I mostly just complain about how sweaty I am.”

“I mostly just complain about how sweaty I am.”

#14 Use Multiple Cooling Methods


Soap & Niccolo (no age specified)

Screenshot 2023-07-17 at 10.28.56 AM.png


Occupation: college students

Favorite subway line:

Niccolo: either the orange or the blue

Soap: overall, the BDFM line because they all work well, and the F in particular because it never fails them

Hot Tip: Niccolo: “Hop in the train car if it’s one of the more modern ones.”

Soap: “We also use metal water bottles and typically fill it up with cold water, and the portable mini fans. My mom got a humidifier from Amazon that works well.”


#15 Give Up


Malcolm, 22

Screenshot 2023-07-17 at 10.29.57 AM.png


Occupation: works in fashion

Favorite subway line: the A because he uses it the most

Hot Tip: “I’ll be honest, I don’t [stay cool]. I’m sweating my ass off.”

More Articles: