ALL OF humankind is represented on the New York subway. And passenger Jennifer Young had an unusually comfortable and stylish ride in an armchair she bought in Manhattan and was taking home to Brooklyn.

For visitors to New York, riding the subway is cheap (compared to taxis) and fast (compared to aboveground vehicles). And it gives an intimate look — sometimes too intimate at rush hour — at the city’s cultural melting pot.

On my last visit to Manhattan, I counted nine languages being spoken in the one corner of the subway car where I was sitting. I sat trying to guess nationalities and life stories, from teenagers flirting in Spanish (were they from Mexico, Colombia, Puerto Rico?) to men chattering in Chinese (Hong Kong, Singapore, Taiwan?) and heavily veiled women (Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Egypt?)

I got so interested, watching the underground life of the city, that I missed my stop.

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Kristin R. Jackson is The Seattle Times NWTraveler editor. Contact her at