They say it was the hottest summer in New York's history, at least the hottest anyone alive could remember. It was usually between 100 and 110 degrees and very humid. New York wasn't. built for weather like this, you can only find a few operational air conditioners and they're all on the upper East side.
The subway was a steam bath, almost always 10 degrees hotter than the outside world.
Over the years a system of life had developed in the subway.
There were shops nestled in its walls and freelance merchants sold jewelry on card tables was commonplace. People slept there.
If you were a pan handler and you stood in the subway you would see more people walk past you in 15 minutes than anywhere above ground, and you had a good excuse if you stood just outside.
I'm fifty cents short, can you spare change? It, seemed some People spent their whole lives there. Almost everyone in New York spent at least 15 minutes in the subway every day.
That summer people wanted to spend as little time in the subway as they could. When they were in the subway they were usually in a bad mood and didn't want to part with some of their most valuable energy, money.
The economy of the subway people was hit hard. There is a tube at grand central station you must walk through to get the shuttle to times square that had a close store, a flower shop, and a sit down fast food diner along one wall that all closed down that summer. Along the other wall the day at grand central station. For about two weeks you could see a young man with a black guitar playing rock music.
Most often these subway musicians were people who were very good at their trade. Most were classically trained but there were also gospel singers, blues performers, or sometimes a whole band of jazz musicians. But for some reason they could not make enough money in the outside world. Out of desperation they went to the people. Most subway musicians were older and could no longer get the type of part time jobs young people could get. They just didn't have the energy anymore to carry large heavy boxes around, or wash dishes till dawn. They were also too old to be trained in rock music.