John Metcalfe was CityLab’s Bay Area bureau chief, covering climate change and the science of cities.
You can get away with a lot wearing an official-looking vest.
Back in April, passengers attempting to board a Hamburg S-Bahn commuter train might have wound up with cracked glasses and a sore nose. A pack of street artists—or vandals, depending on your perspective—had at some point sneaked onto the train and erected a sturdy cinderblock wall inside one of the doors.
“The stones were accurately measured,” a police spokesman remarked. “There’s quite [some] craftsmanship behind it.”
Well, we now know how much craftsmanship, as the people responsible have released a making-of video. (Like so much public art these days, it appears to be tied in with a brand.)
It turns out they boarded the car when it was sitting unguarded on the tracks, wearing official-looking safety vests. They mixed the mortar and cut the blocks on site, then sealed the edges with caulk and swept up their mess before leaving. Footage from inside the train shows it made several stops, baffling and amusing commuters, before authorities discovered the prank.
A friendly reminder: Please don’t use these images as a tutorial for walling off your own city’s train.