TIME Etiquette

‘Man Spreaders,’ There’s No Excuse for Not Closing Your Legs on the Subway

Couple sitting on urban subway
Steve Prezant—Getty Images

Brian Moylan is a writer and pop culture junkie.

All you jerks with wide stances are breaking the social contract that we need to abide by in New York City

There are lots of things that men do that are crazy, like insist on trying to impress people by regurgitating lines from Adam Sandler movies and investing scores of time in that imaginary monstrosity that is fantasy football. But there is no worse, man-centric behavior than manspreading on the subway. Seriously guys, it has got to stop.

You know what I’m talking about: the dudes who sit on the subway and expand their legs to bar anyone from sitting anywhere near them. It’s like they have an imaginary sumo wrestler sitting on the floor in front of them (or an imaginary cat, as this meme would lead us to believe). The problem has gotten so bad that the MTA, the agency in charge of New York City’s subways, is starting a campaign to curb the phenomenon. But, really, do we need subway posters next to those cute little Poetry in Motion poems and Dr. Zizmor ads to tell the bros not to do this? No, we should not. We should already be showing everyone some R-E-S-P-E-C-T, as Aretha says.

As a human male who possesses a penis, I can say that there is no possible way that your package is that big that you need to sit with your legs spread like the Grand Canyon. And if you have a package so large – as in an actual parcel – that is making you sit like this, you probably should do yourself and the world a favor and spring for a cab.

Also I know that your unit is not throwing off that much heat, even in the blistering days of the summer when the subway feels and smells like someone set the Gowanus Canal on fire. As an owner of a set, I know that testicles do not get that sweaty and even if they did, sitting as such would not create an adequate cross breeze to cool them down. If you are having such intense grundle fires, then you probably should consult a doctor and you should not be rubbing your junk all over public transportation. Or maybe just go commando.

That is the crux of the situation. The problem with leg spreaders is that they are breaking the social contract that we need to abide by survive in New York City. It is the same contract that says you stand on the right and walk on the left on an escalator and that you never shout at a celebrity when you see one on the street (this isn’t LA!). There is just not enough room for everyone in this city and, in order to accommodate everyone, we need to take up only our allotted bit of space.

The thing about the subway is that the seats and benches are divided to tell you just how much room you have. That little indent should not only fit your butt, but also your legs. If they are spread past that indentation, your stance is wider than Larry Craig’s in an airport restroom. If you’re on a car with those blue benches, which are meant to fit precisely six people and there are not six people on the bench, you are also spread too wide. Everyone paid $2.50 and they get only one seat. The same goes for backpacks on the seat, setting your bicycle or stroller in front of a whole row of benches, or passing out on an entire row on the F train on the way home from an East Village bar at 2 a.m. Sure, if the train is a little bit empty, you can be at ease, soldier, but never to the degree that it would intimidate someone else who might want to sit next to you in the event the train gets more crowded.

This is the most visual manifestation of patriarchal privilege and that is why it is especially angering. It says to everyone, “I find this comfortable and I am a man so my comfort comes before all else in this entire universe and especially you.” That’s why people hate this. It’s because men are saying that they don’t care about anyone else, and that is awful. They think that it is somehow manly, by claiming their territory. That is not manly. A real man is courteous and thinks of others and only takes as much as he is allowed. That’s what we need to tell our sons.

Whenever I see a leg spreader, I intentionally sit right next to him and spar for my bit of room. I want to let him know that it is not okay to stake claims to things that don’t belong to him in the first place. It’s like picking the tulips that grow in Central Park and putting them in a vase on your table.

Contrary to our reputation for being easy to anger, New Yorkers get by only by being nice to our fellow man. It’s the only way that we can survive crammed onto this tiny island at the center of the universe. The only place where this doesn’t happen is with men on the subway trying to prove something to the rest of the world (also in line at Trader Joe’s).

All you jerks with wide stances need to get over it. You are not losing anything by sitting with your legs together. It’s not that much worse. If you don’t like it, you can buy a bike and just ride everywhere. And if you really don’t like it, then you can move. Or better yet, you can stand. There are some of us who would also like a seat and we know how to use it.

Brian Moylan is a writer and pop culture junkie who lives in New York. His work has appeared in Gawker, VICE, New York magazine, and a few other safe-for-work publications.

TIME Ideas hosts the world's leading voices, providing commentary and expertise on the most compelling events in news, society, and culture. We welcome outside contributions. To submit a piece, email ideas@time.com.

TIME ebola

Woman’s Remains in New York Test Negative for Ebola

Nurses from the New York State Nurses Association protest for improved Ebola safeguards, part of a national day of action, in New York
Nurses from the New York State Nurses Association protest for improved Ebola safeguards, part of a national day of action, in New York City November 12, 2014. © Mike Segar—Reuters

She had arrived from Guinea about three weeks earlier

The remains of a woman in New York who died while under observation for potential Ebola exposure have tested negative for the virus, health officials said Wednesday.

The woman arrived from Guinea, one of the three nations hit hardest in the Ebola outbreak in West Africa, nearly three weeks ago and was being monitored out of “an abundance of caution” because her trip fell within the virus’ 21-day incubation period, the New York Times reports. She had shown no symptoms for the disease.

She was one of some 300 people being monitored by New York City as a potential case. The city’s sole diagnosed case to date, Dr. Craig Spencer, was successfully treated and released.

[NYT]

TIME weather

The Great Blizzard of 1947: Photos of New York, Buried in White

Recalling the historic blizzard of 1947 with photos that ran in LIFE, and many other pictures that were never published in the magazine

Something about snowstorms brings out the kid in most of us. Memories of those blessed, almost always unexpected reprieves from the drudgery of school — “Snow day!” — undoubtedly plays a part in the collective excitement, and whether it’s in a vast metropolis or a remote, small town, the prospect of a blizzard elicits something nearly primal in those in the storm’s path.

There’s concern, for sure — about our families, our neighbors, our power and heat, our ability to get out and about once the snow stops falling. But for a good number of us, there’s something more: something like pure, primal excitement.

In December 1947, a huge, historic storm dumped record levels of snow on the northeastern United States. In New York City, where the snow fell quietly, and steadily, for hours and hours, several LIFE photographers stepped out of the magazine’s offices, cameras in hand, and recorded the scene. Here, we remember the Great Blizzard of 1947 with some photos that ran in LIFE, and many others that were never published in the magazine.

As LIFE put it to its readers in its Jan. 5, 1948, issue:

At 3:20 in the morning it began to snow in New York City. By the time most New Yorkers were going to work the blanket lay three inches deep. But the city, used to ignoring all natural phenomena and reassured by a weather forecast of “occasional flurries,” went about its business. But as the day wore on this characteristic blasé attitude vanished. The air grew filled with snowflakes so huge and thick it was almost impossible to see across the street. They fell without letup — all morning, all afternoon and into the night.

Long after night fall the illuminated news sign of the New York Times flashed an announcement to little groups of people huddled in Times Square that the snowfall, which totaled an amazing 25.8 inches in less than 24 hours, had beaten the record of the city’s historic blizzard of 1880. A faint, muffled shout of triumph went up from the victims.

TIME Education

NYC Schools Abandon $95 Million Controversial Computer Program

Boys with Laptop Computers
Lisa Pines—Getty Images

The Achievement Reporting and Innovation System (ARIS), whose creation was overseen by former schools chancellor Joel Klein, will end in 2015

The New York City Department of Education is ending a $95 million computer program that tracks students and their academic performance.

The Achievement Reporting and Innovation System (ARIS) will end in 2015, the New York Daily News reports. The program was designed to help parents, teachers and administrators easily access student data, but in recent years it has been criticized for being slow, expensive and underused.

Former schools chancellor Joel Klein oversaw the creation and implementation of ARIS in 2007, and his company, Amplify, was later contracted to run it; one of those contracts was for around $10 million in 2012. ARIS was originally built by IBM, though Klein recused himself from the decision to award the first contract because of family stock holdings in the company, Amplify said.

Amplify said in statement that there have long been plans to transition to a new system. “Six years ago we were called in to fix this project when it was well underway,” Amplify said. ‘We did so on time and on budget. Since then, we’ve been working over the past two years to wind down maintenance level work because of potential plans to transition to a new state system with similar — and in some cases — overlapping functions.”

Only 3 percent of parents and 16 percent of teachers used in the 2012-2013 school year. The department plans to have a new, more cost effective system in place by next September.

“The Education Department has decided to end our contract with Amplify as a result of the extremely high cost of the ARIS system, its limited functionality, and the lack of demand from parents and staff,” spokesperson Devora Kaye said. “The shockingly low usage of ARIS shows that the vast majority of families and Education Department staff don’t find it a valuable tool.”

[NY Daily News]

TIME celebrity

Billy Joel Defends Taylor Swift’s New York State of Mind

Taylor Swift Performs On ABC's "Good Morning America"
Taylor Swift Performs On ABC's "Good Morning America" at Times Square on October 30, 2014 in New York City. Jamie McCarthy—Getty Images

The Piano Man also gives T-Swift props for her songwriting skills

When New York City named Taylor Swift its new tourism ambassador, many residents scoffed. She’s lived here, for, like, two seconds, people (probably) said. She moved here when she was already a trillion-million-billionaire. What does she know about anything? (As we all know: haters gonna hate, hate, hate, hate, hate.)

But now, proud lifelong New Yorker Billy Joel has come to Swift’s defense.

“You snoots. Let her in,” the singer told USA Today. That’s what New York is all about. I say, ‘Welcome.’”

So, that settles it. If the Piano Man himself says Tay can stay and be New York’s tourism ambassador, then she can stay. He also added: “I think she’s a talented songwriter. She catches a lot of junk, maybe because she’s so popular with young girls. But I like what she’s projecting. I respect what she’s doing.”

Also, props to Joel for using the word “snoots.” Snoots gonna snoot, snoot, snoot, snoot, snoot.

Read next: Here’s Why Mr. Big Thinks Taylor Swift’s a Perfect NYC Ambassador

TIME LIFE Photo Essay

‘Career Girl’: Portrait of a Young Woman’s Life in 1948 New York

Seven decades after they were made, Leonard McCombe's photos of a young woman's life in 1948 New York City are still wonderfully moving

Of all the photo essays that LIFE magazine published over the decades, a 12-page 1948 feature known simply as “Career Girl” remains among the most moving and, in many ways, one of the most surprising. Chronicling the life and struggles in New York City of a 23-year-old Missourian named Gwyned Filling, the article — and especially the essay’s photographs by Leonard McCombe — struck a nerve with LIFE’s readers. Seven decades later, McCombe’s pictures have lost none of their startling intimacy, or their empathy.

A 1947 graduate of the University of Missouri School of Journalism, Gwyned Filling moved to New York with a friend a week after commencement. Less than a year later, LIFE selected her, from more than a thousand other candidates, to serve as an emblem of the modern “career girl” — the smart, driven young woman who viewed post-World War II America, and especially its big cities, as a place where opportunities seemed limitless. After all, the nation’s workforce during the critical war years had been transformed by a massive influx of skilled female workers; when the war ended, it was only natural that educated, ambitious women would view the labor landscape as utterly changed—for the better.

LIFE Magazine

The article that appeared in the May 3, 1948, issue of LIFE — titled “The Private Life of Gwyned Filling” (see slide #3) — follows Gwyned as she negotiates the frenetic universe of New York City while trying to keep her own personal hopes and career expectations in perspective. She works; she dines out; she stays abreast of the doings of friends and family back home; she dates; she dreams.

The reaction of LIFE’s readers, meanwhile, ranged (perhaps predictably) from outrage and moral indignation at Gwyned’s “unladylike” pursuits to a kind of celebratory relief that LIFE chose to show on its cover “a young woman with a serious, purposeful, intelligent face” rather than “some vacuous-faced female with the molar grin that has come to be regarded in America as a smile.”

A reader from Detroit, on the other hand, opined that if the story “can keep only a few girls in their small-town homes it will have done at least some small service to humanity. Big cities are a menace to the progress of civilization. The people who fling themselves against them to be battered to pieces like moths against a lamp are fools.”

In the end, the enduring value of “The Private Life of Gwyned Filling,” and of McCombe’s quiet, masterful portrait of Gwyned at her happiest, her most determined and her most despairing, is that it serves as an honest record of a certain moment (the late 1940s) in a certain place (New York City) as experienced, to one degree or another, by countless women striving for something beyond what might have been expected of them a mere generation before.

Finally, it’s worth noting that in November 1948 Gwyned married the man, Charles B. Straus, Jr., she is seen dating (and, at times, weeping over) in some of these pictures. They remained married for 54 years — they had two kids and several grandkids — until Straus died in 2002. Gwyned died in 2005, in Rhode Island. She was 80 years old.

TIME Culture

These Are the Most Visited Tourist Attractions in the World

Grand Bazaar in Istanbul
Grand Bazaar in Istanbul Michael James O'Brien

Embrace the wisdom of crowds by adding the world’s most-visited tourist attractions to your bucket list

For nearly 500 years, the emperors living within Beijing’s opulent Forbidden City dictated who could enter and leave. Well, the gates have opened, and tourists are pouring in to see it all for themselves. Attendance is up by 2.5 million since 2010.

The Forbidden City is a dream destination for some Americans, but most have never researched a trip to Everland or Lotte World. Yet these South Korean theme parks also rank among the world’s 50 most-visited tourist attractions—beating out the Eiffel Tower (nearly 7 million), the Great Pyramids (4 million), and Stonehenge (1 million). And there are more surprises.

Where we choose to spend our vacation time says a lot about what we value. Despite—or perhaps because of—what the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) calls “global economic challenges,” more travelers are hitting the road than ever. International tourist arrivals increased by 5 percent in 2013, according to the UNWTO. That translates to a record of more than one billion trips. With its population of 1.36 billion, China became the second-largest exporter of tourists. Russia, now the fifth-largest outbound market, increased travel spending by 26 percent.

Like it or not, theme parks clearly have worldwide appeal. France’s Disneyland Park draws about the same number of visitors (10.5 million) as Sacré Coeur, and four of the world’s 20 most-visited tourist attractions are Disney parks.

Many inspiring and iconic places can’t quite keep up. The Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum narrowly missed the top 50, as did the British Museum in London (6.7 million), the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York (6.3 million), and the Roman Colosseum and Forum (5.1 million each). The Berlin Wall Memorial Site logged only 500,000 visitors in 2013, though extra crowds are arriving in November 2014 for the 25th anniversary of its fall.

Accessibility can be a factor. It takes extra effort to reach Yellowstone National Park (3.2 million) or the Terracotta Army in Xi’an, China (4.8 million). And Peru’s Machu Picchu has restricted tourism to help maintain the site’s integrity; only 2,500 can enter per day, or 912,500 per year.

So what is the most-visited tourist attraction in the world? And can 91 million people be wrong? Read on to see the results—and an explanation of our methods for calculating it all.

The Methodology: To tally up the world’s most-visited attractions, we gathered the most recent data supplied by the attractions themselves or from government agencies, industry reports, and reputable media outlets. In most cases, it was 2013 data. Attractions that don’t sell tickets gave us estimates as best they could.

We defined “tourist attractions” as cultural and historical sites, natural landmarks, and officially designated spaces. So Boston’s shop-filled Faneuil Hall Marketplace (est. 1742) made the cut, but not Minnesota’s Mall of America, which, with 40 million annual visitors, would otherwise have tied for No. 4. Short walkways and plazas also fit our definition of tourist attractions; that disqualified the Blue Ridge Parkway. We also omitted beaches, bridges, and sites that draw almost exclusively religious pilgrims.

No. 1 Grand Bazaar, Istanbul

Annual Visitors: 91,250,000

Hand-painted ceramics, lanterns, intricately patterned carpets, copperware, gold Byzantine-style jewelry, and more eye-catching products vie for your attention within this 15th-century bazaar’s vaulted walkways. It has since expanded and become increasingly touristy, but locals, too, are among the millions of bargain hunters. To haggle like a pro, lowball your starting offer and don’t be afraid to walk away. And if it all gets overwhelming, break for a succulent doner kebab or strong cup of Turkish coffee.

No. 2 The Zócalo, Mexico City

Annual Visitors: 85,000,000

Formally known as the Plaza de la Constitución, the enormous Zócalo thrums with activity. It hosts military parades, cultural and political events, concerts, exhibitions, fairs, and public art installations. Metropolitan Cathedral and the National Palace flank this historic public square, and an imposing Mexican flag, raised and lowered daily, waves over the scene.

No. 3 Times Square, New York City

Annual Visitors: 50,000,000

Tourists flock to New York’s neon heart for the flashing lights, Broadway shows, megastores, and sheer spectacle—including costumed characters eager to pose for photo ops. Pedestrian-only areas with café tables introduced a few years ago have made it easier and more appealing to hang out here. Times Square can even be a convenient, if chaotic, base, thanks to hotels at every price point and easy access to public transportation: subways, rails, buses, and more yellow taxis than you can count.

No. 4 (tie) Central Park, New York City

Annual Visitors: 40,000,000

New York has larger green spaces, but none is more famous than Central Park, which stretches across nearly 850 acres of prime Manhattan real estate—an oasis for both tourists and locals. You can ride in one of the horse-drawn carriages, check out the modest-size zoo, climb to the top of 19th-century Belvedere Castle, or take a break from pounding the pavement to sprawl on the Great Lawn, gazing at the skyscrapers above.

No. 4 (tie) Union Station, Washington, D.C.

Annual Visitors: 40,000,000

Opened in 1907, this busy station shuttles some 12,500 passengers daily in and out of the city. But it also handles millions of tourists who pass through to take in the impeccably mixed architectural styles throughout the colossal building: from Classical to Beaux-Arts to Baroque. More than 70 retail outlets make Union Station a shopping destination, and it’s also a jumping-off point for many D.C. tours.

Read the full list HERE.

More from Travel + Leisure:

TIME politics

How Ellis Island Changed Before It Closed

Immigration Ellis Island
An immigration officer talking to an immigrant with her children on Ellis Island, New York, circa 1880 Fotosearch / Getty Images

Nov. 12, 1954: Ellis Island shuts down

By the time Ellis Island closed its doors, on this day, Nov. 12, in 1954, three decades had passed since it had welcomed waves of newcomers to America.

Its active years, from 1892 to 1924, had nonetheless been so active that more than 40% of Americans can trace their ancestry back through its terracotta-ceilinged registry room, where 12 million immigrants entered the United States.

At its peak, the immigration station processed people with assembly-line efficiency, sometimes doubling its maximum daily capacity of 5,000. The scene looked less like efficiency than like chaos, however, according to a 1985 report in TIME.

“Given the confusion and the size of the mobs, it is astonishing that 80% got through within hours,” writes TIME’s Gregory Jaynes. “They were jostled, pulled, pushed and misunderstood. There is the story of the Jew who cried out ‘Shoyn fargessen!’ — already forgotten — only to have his name set down upon his documents as Sean Ferguson.”

After entering through the baggage hold, would-be Americans climbed a flight of stairs to Ellis Island’s Great Hall, where inspectors were waiting to assess their fitness, according to Jaynes. He adds:

They would mark them “H” for heart disease, “X” for dementia or perhaps just for looking stupid, “E” for eye problems. The immigrants were entitled to an interpreter. “Name? Where were you born? Have you ever been to the United States before? Do you have any relatives here? Where do they live? Who paid for your passage? Do you have any money? Let me see it. Do you have any skills? Do you have a job waiting for you here? Are you an anarchist? Are you a polygamist?”

By the 1920s, however, it had ceded its position as “Island of Hope” and become almost exclusively a place where unwanted immigrants were detained and processed for deportation.

The reversal began with a 1924 law that restricted immigration and required newcomers to register at overseas consulates rather than Ellis Island. This was followed by Depression-era belt-tightening that made the U.S. less welcoming to the tired, the poor and the huddled masses. By 1950, when a post-WWII policy banning anyone who had ever been affiliated with a totalitarian party excluded an estimated 90% of Germans and more than half of Italians, among others, Ellis Island had become the notorious holding area for those who tried to sneak through — so much so that Communist newspapers referred to it as a concentration camp.

The last immigrant to walk the halls of Ellis Island was Arne Peterssen, a Norwegian sailor who was detained for overstaying his shore leave. On their final day of work, the station’s civil servants cut Peterssen some slack: he was released on parole and told to catch the next boat back to Norway.

Read TIME’s 1985 take on America’s immigration history: American Scene: From Ellis Island to LAX

TIME Crime

NYPD Search for Suspected Armed Robbers in City’s Diamond District

Diamond District Hostage
A police officer stands guard at the entrance of the Diamond District in New York City on Nov. 11, 2014. Charlotte Alter for TIME

Police shut down city block to hunt for them

New York City police had a busy city block on lockdown Tuesday afternoon, amid heavier Veterans Day crowds, while they searched for suspects in an armed robbery.

Police told TIME that two men, one in his mid-50s and one in his mid-20s, entered the building on 47th Street in Manhattan and allegedly robbed a man at gunpoint on the eighth floor, pistol-whipped him and then disappeared into the building. Police shut down the entire city block to hunt for the suspects, as the New York Veteran’s Day Parade marched by on adjacent Fifth Avenue.

But while the scene made things a bit more chaotic than usual, store owners in the city’s “diamond district” remained unfazed, calmly removing jewelry from store windows, while residents and shopkeepers complained of the minor inconvenience.

Moshe Uziel said he couldn’t get past the policemen to bring his wife her lunch, and she couldn’t come out to get it, all because she was stuck in a building near the one where two armed men allegedly committed the theft and assault.

“I’ve been working here for 50 years,” Uziel says, “You would see this type of thing 25-30 years ago, but the last 10-15 years have been very quiet.” He and his wife work at Summit 1 Jewelry, importing gold jewelry from Italy.

Irina Uziel was told to stay put. “An announcement told us to stay in our offices,” she said when Moshe called her. “I told her to lock up everything,” he added.

While police do not believe the suspected men have taken hostages, there are many people still at work inside the buildings, so they are taking extra precautions.

TIME Obesity

New York’s New Speed Limit Means a Healthier City

A car traveling 30 mph that hits a pedestrian is eight times as likely to kill that person than if it were traveling 20 mph

The difference between traveling 25 and 30 miles per hour may seem minute for the average car driver. The faster speed would save you about five minutes in a trip down the length of Manhattan. But the difference is profound if you’re hit by a car–maybe even the difference between life and death.

In effort to curb traffic fatalities, New York City lowered its default speed limit to 25 mph effective Nov. 7. It’s a move that, if properly enforced, experts say could inspire similar moves in other urban areas across the country—making a dent in the more than 4,000 pedestrians killed by cars each year in the U.S. “All eyes are on New York right now to see if we can tame our infamously mean streets,” says Paul Steely White, executive director of New York-based Transportation Alternatives.

The move is perhaps the biggest effort yet from Mayor Bill DeBlasio to reduce the number of traffic-related deaths in New York City. Hundreds of New Yorkers die annually in traffic accidents and, in recent years, a number of highly publicized deaths have inspired public relations campaigns. Most dramatically, DeBlasio recently introduced Vision Zero, a program designed to eliminate traffic fatalities altogether in New York.

The speed limit reduction plays a key role in Vision Zero, though no one expects the city to change overnight. Police first need to enforce the rule, something some city-dwellers think isn’t likely. But if it’s enforced, the lower speed limit could have profound effects. A car that hits a pedestrian while traveling 30 mph is twice as likely to kill that person as if it were traveling 25 mph. And it’s eight times as likely to kill a pedestrian than if it were traveling 20 mph, the average top speed that a sprinting human might collide into another object.

“The five-mile per hour difference makes a huge difference between life and death,” says White. “Moving forward, in terms of enforcement, it’s a question of whether we’ll save dozens of lives or scores or perhaps hundreds if we do enforce the speed limit.”

Slowing the roads may being about other unintended consequences, too. “What we’re trying to say is this is not just about changing speed, it’s about changing what goes on in people’s heads,” said John Whitelegg, a professor at the University of York who has helped implement programs to lower the speed limit in Germany and the United Kingdom. Whitelegg said that in the places he’s worked, researchers have found links between lower speed limits and increased physical activity. In turn, rates of obesity and diabetes are also down.

“There’s a tremendous value to being able to walk to work, walk to school,” White said. “Dare I say, that’s becoming the new American dream.”

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