A plaque remaining from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem.

Above, a 1934 plaque from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem. Discarded as trash in 2006.

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Entry from January 05, 2019
The Beast (2 subway line)

"New York City’s No. 2 subway line has been called ‘The Beast” for several reasons. In 1979 and 1980, the police and the Guardian Angels gave the No. 2 line its “The Beast” nickname because of the high amount of crime.

In a Daily News (New York, NY) article, “Man against ‘Beast’: Trainmen call IRT line treacherous” by Mary Ann Giordano on July 5, 1981, transit workers called the No. 2 train “The Beast” because it was the oldest and longest subway line in the city, and it was considered the most treacherous and dangerous line for a motorman to work.

“The 2 train, which was nicknamed ‘the beast’ for its slow, meandering route in the Bronx, among other reasons” was posted on Twitter by “pete from manhattan” on September 11, 2018.

Many people disagree with the nickname. “But they all stink. The whole IRT line is a deathtrap,” the 1981 Daily News article continued. “But people in the know—the police, the Transit Authority, the people who travel throughout the system—say that one line is much like another,” wrote Paul Theroux in the New York (NY) Times on January 31, 1982.

“It was once dubbed ‘The Beast,’ but that was just bad press,” the novel South by South Bronx (2008) by Abraham Rodriguez stated. “The 2 train was a trooper that sped express through Manhattan’s overcrowded west side with ease, that went local through Harlem and Flatbush instead of cruising by and leaving people stranded. It was a heart-of-gold train, as tough as any veteran New Yorker with a tall tale.”


Wikipedia: 2 (New York City Subway service)
The 2 Seventh Avenue Express is a rapid transit service in the A Division of the New York City Subway. Its route emblem, or “bullet”, is colored red since it uses the IRT Broadway–Seventh Avenue Line through most of Manhattan.

The 2 operates at all times between 241st Street in Wakefield, Bronx and Flatbush Avenue–Brooklyn College in Flatbush, Brooklyn; limited rush hour service originates and terminates at New Lots Avenue in East New York, Brooklyn instead of Flatbush Avenue. Daytime service makes local stops in the Bronx and Brooklyn and express in Manhattan; late night service makes local stops along the entire route.

Historically, 2 trains have also run to Crown Heights–Utica Avenue or New Lots Avenue. They ran exclusively on the IRT New Lots Line until 1983, when the 2 was routed to Flatbush Avenue. This is still the case with some rush-hour trains, although they now run to New Lots Avenue only.

Google Books
Life magazine
Volume 2
979
Pg. 39:
At 1:30 in the morning, the Number 2 train—police call it the Beast—begins its 90-minute journey through some of the city’s poorest neighborhoods.

30 December 1980, Boston (MA) Globe, “Public says they’re angels, but...” by Nathan Cobb, pg. 19, col. 2:
Several young men and one young woman, their black and brown faces almost invisible on a cloudy night made even darker by lightbulbs shot to pieces by gunfire, gather on the elevated platform of the Junius street station. They have just stepped from the New York City Transit Authority’s No. 2 train, which they refer to as “The Beast.”

“Just ain’t no safe stops out there,” one of the young men whispers nervously as the train rolls from the station.

26 April 1981, San Francisco (C) Chronicle, “Good Guys Patrol the Underground in ‘Fighting Back’” by Paul Henniger, Datebook sec., pg. 45, col. 3:
The real Guardian Angels came into being in February, 1979, in the Brownsville-East New York section of Brooklyn, particularly around the Junius Street Station, where the city’s Transit Authority’s No. 2 train was labeled not too affectionately as “The Beast.”

5 July 1981, Daily News (New York, NY), “Man against ‘Beast’: Trainmen call IRT line treacherous” by Mary Ann Giordano, pg. 3, col. 1:
For 11 years, Jesse Cole guided subway trains through the tunnels and over the elevated tracks of the city. Finally, “The Beast” proved too much for him.
(...)
“The No. 2 line is considered the No. 1 bad-boy line,” said Dave Rubenstein, a delegate from the Transport workers Union Local 100. “We call it ‘The Beast from the East.’ It’s considered the most treacherous and dangerous line for a motorman to work. But they all stink. The whole IRT line is a deathtrap.”

The Beast, however, is unique. It is the oldest and longest subway line in the city. Its tracks date to the beginning of the century, and its signals are the remnants of a system installed in 1918.

New York (NY) Times
SUBWAY ODYSSEY
By Paul Theroux
JAN. 31, 1982
(...)
There is part of the No. 2 IRT line - from Nostrand to New Lots Avenue in Brooklyn - that is indisputably bad. It is dangerous and ugly, and when you get to New Lots Avenue you cannot imagine why you went. The transit police call this line ‘’the Beast.’’ But people in the know—the police, the Transit Authority, the people who travel throughout the system—say that one line is much like another.

Google Groups: misc.transport.urban-transit
NYC Subway: Is Owl 20-Minute Frequencies Necessary?
Christopher Rivituso
8/9/99
> From: Mike Gallant
> To:
> Subject: NYC Subway: Is Owl 20-Minute Frequencies Necessary?
> Date: 9 sierpnia 1999 16:07
>
> Oddly, #2 line up White Plains Road was not as popular.
>

I was on “The Beast” late at night in 1988. While I agree that there were not many people on the way up, it was pretty packed on the way down.

SubChat.com
Re: Nicknames Of The Subway Lines
Posted by Zman179 on Fri May 18 20:53:45 2007, in response to Nicknames Of The Subway Lines, posted by E Line Fan on Thu May 17 14:45:38 2007.
(...)
Only IRT line that I know that has a true nickname is the 2 (aka The Beast.)

Google Books
South by South Bronx
By Abraham Rodriguez
New York, NY: Akashic Books
2008
Pg. 144:
It (the No. 2 train—ed.) had a bad reputation, passing as it did through the heart of Harlem and some rough turf in Brooklyn. It was once dubbed “The Beast,” but that was just bad press. The 2 train was a trooper that sped express through Manhattan’s overcrowded west side with ease, that went local through Harlem and Flatbush instead of cruising by and leaving people stranded. It was a heart-of-gold train, as tough as any veteran New Yorker with a tall tale.

Foursquare
MTA Subway - 2 Train
Train
Crotona Park East, New York

(...)
COMMENTS
Dionne Argyle April 19, 2011
Nicknamed “the beast” this train is always packed no matter the time of day

,a href="https://www.tapatalk.com/groups/theerant/subway-rider-smears-poop-all-over-no-2-train-t96311.html">Thee RANT
Subway rider smears poop all over No. 2 train
BROOM
Apr 02, 2018 #3
The New Lots Express! 😁 A jungle pig sty on wheels!
The transit blue bellies didn’t call it the “BEAST” for nothing!

Twitter
pete from manhattan
@pete_manhattan
Replying to @henrygrabar @A_W_Gordon
I’m guessing:
-The 2 train, which was nicknamed “the beast” for its slow, meandering route in the Bronx, among other reasons
-The 4 train, esp. betw. Burnside & 167 St., b/c of booth holdups
-The 3 train in Bklyn, where train crews were robbed at gunpoint on the layup tks
6:25 PM - 11 Sep 2018

Posted by Barry Popik
New York CityTransportation • Saturday, January 05, 2019 • Permalink