Emily Badger is a former staff writer at CityLab. Her work has previously appeared in Pacific Standard, GOOD, The Christian Science Monitor, and The New York Times. She lives in the Washington, D.C. area.
This is way more unbearable than standing on black asphalt in the blazing sun.
From the mechanically chilled comfort of the Washington Metro system, it's easy to forget that many subway systems downright defy central cooling. You can't, for instance, just install a bunch of air conditioners in a hundred-year-old porous underground network. (Washington's platforms, for the record, technically aren't air-conditioned; they use "chilled water air handling units").
The result in a city like New York is that the platform at, say, 14th Street/Union Square, may be perceptibly more miserable than the street above on a scorching day. As of this writing, it's about 85 degrees in New York. On the 14th Street platform of the L line? 99 degrees.
So warns the smart website L-degrees, created by Julian Cole, which confirms our worst suspicions that standing on a New York subway platform in August is perhaps the worst possible thing you could do to your pores. Griping about this steamy subway effect is a regular pastime for commuters. But it's nice to have someone put some numbers to the phenomenon, confirming along the way that some stations really are way worse than others.
Cole's bare-bones site, which currently tracks only the L line, predicts the temperature below ground based on weather readings above and Cole's own previous measurements of the temperature differential at each station. The result, as the site explains, "is due to 'heat sink' which is when heat from buildings and the sidewalk transfer heat outward."
We also suspect it doesn't help during rush hour when you've got a few hundred human bodies crammed onto the platform.
But anyway, we keep swearing fall is almost here!
Top image: Flickr user dilworthdesigns.