Subway Riders Invited to Take a
More Elevated Line of Thought

May 21, 2008

Move over, Dr. Z.


Starting this month—thanks to some expert guidance from Columbia’s Arts and Sciences faculty—millions of New York City bus and subway riders will have a diversion from those ubiquitous advertisements for the Manhattan dermatologist Jonathan Zizmor.


In a new series of advertisements that run on subways and buses, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority has unveiled Train of Thought, which will feature excerpts and quotations from some of the world’s greatest minds—each selected by experts at Columbia.


“Since we are ‘Columbia University in the City of New York,’ it is appropriate that we bring these great achievements to the streets, or in this case, below the streets, of our city,” says Henry C. Pinkham, dean of the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences (GSAS), who has appointed a committee of Columbia experts to pick what editorial content should be on the ads. “Of course, the subway permits only tiny excerpts to be posted. But it gets people thinking about big ideas and that’s exactly what a university should do for people.”


One of the first Train of Thought excerpts is from the book Here Is New York, E.B. White’s 1948 love letter to the city, on the special character of New York City and its people. White, the former New Yorker essayist, is best known as the author of Charlotte’s Web. The other selection is from 16th-century Italian astronomer and scientist Galileo on the centrality of mathematics to science. The ads will be illustrated with original images from Columbia’s Rare Book & Manuscript Library.

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