“Why not use the ‘L’?” asks the title of a 1930 painting by urban realist Reginald Marsh (1898–1954). 1 This dreary depiction of subway travel features three passengers, each psychologically isolated from each other and detached from his or her surroundings. A woman in a blue coat stands next to the exit, reading a newspaper; a sleeping man sprawls on the seat, with a newspaper tucked under his lower back, serving as a makeshift cushion; and a woman in an acid-green coat perches primly on her seat, lost in her thoughts and gazing blankly ahead. Above the passengers a sign reads, “The subway is fast—certainly! But the Open Air Elevated gets you there quickly, too—and with more comfort. Why not use the ‘L’?” Through signage, Marsh bridges the gap between two forms of rapid transportation available in New York City at the time: the subway and the elevated train. Moreover, it synthesizes a range of themes that recur in the representation of these two modes of urban travel from about 1900 to 1930: spectatorship, daily-life dramas, transitory associations between people and places, diversity in the urban population, and the transformation and creation of social spaces in a modern city.