Because I often work very late or come in very early to the office, I have been able to observe some demographic patterns on the subways in the AM hours. It’s interesting to see how the ethnic, class, professional, and gender makeup evolves as the morning hours go by.
(Please forgive the generalizations inherent in ad hoc ethnography):
Drunks of all sorts, club kids, and winos. Late night workers, busboys, getting off their shifts. Only a handful of people per car. 6:1 male/female ratio.
Transit workers changing shifts. Maybe 6 people per car. All male.
5:00 AM – 6:00 AM
Blue-collar laborers, minorities, immigrants. Half the car is asleep. Maybe 20 or 25 people per car. 9:1 male/female ratio.
6:00 AM – 7:00 AM
Construction workers, blue-collar laborers, hospital workers. 75% of seats in car are taken. 7:3 male/female ratio.
7:00 AM – 8:00 AM
Low-level office workers, civil service workers, some Wall Street broker types. Mostly minorities, lots of black women, lots of all kinds of women in fact. 90% seats occupied. 1:2 male/female ratio.
8:00 AM – 9:00 AM
Professionals, white collar workers, office workers. 100% seats occupied, many people standing. 1:1 male/female ratio.
9:00 AM – 10:00 AM
Early-career yuppies running a little late, creative industry workers, all sorts of professionals. 100% occupied. 1:1 male/female ratio.
10:00 AM – 11:00 AM
Hung over office workers, some seats available. 2:1 male/female ratio.
11:00 AM – noon
Starting to see people who are running errands for work, not just going to or coming from work. Plenty of open seats. 3:2 male/female ratio.
UPDATE: Great stuff from a 2004 New York Times special section dedicated to the NYC Subways (thanks Gothamist):