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Pizza Rat, Nazi-style ads and other viral NYC subway stories of 2015

Subway life can be rough, crowded and patience-draining.

But it's also endlessly colorful, vibrant and surprising. Perhaps because everything takes place in the cramped spaces of tunnels and stations and on platforms, moments in the subway system can take on more meaning than if they happened on the streets.

Take Pizza Rat, for instance. Symbol of every striving New Yorker trying to triumph in the urban jungle or just a rat with a slice of pie? We'll let you decide.

Here are the top viral moments from the subway in 2015 that kept us talking about subway life.

A more beautiful subway turnstile sound

Perhaps you've never heard of James Murphy. But
Photo Credit: HeinekenUSA via YouTube

Perhaps you've never heard of James Murphy. But an idea from the producer/musician for making the subway commute a bit more aurally pleasing struck a note for a lot of New Yorkers. Murphy, best known for his music as LCD Soundystem, proposed to change the grating subway turnstile buzz into musical sounds. "Rush hour, instead of being a nightmare, would suddenly become possibly the most beautiful time to be in the subway," he said in a video promoting what was called "Subway Symphony." The proposal caused a lot of noise and got the attention of everyone from The New York Times to local TV stations.

George the cat causes mass subway disruption

George the cat became infamous in July when
Photo Credit: Mila Rusafova

George the cat became infamous in July when he escaped from his owner at the Canal Street station and ran onto the tracks. His quest for freedom nearly got him killed -- he narrowly missed the electrified third rail -- and delayed more than 80 trains as NYPD officers worked to rescue him. The MTA had to shut off the power to the tracks, suspending service on the E train. That caused a nightmare for commuters, who probably never knew that their ride had been disrupted by a mere kitty on the tracks. George was ultimately reunited with his owner. One NYPD officer quipped, "He used up a bunch of his lives." Some commuters might have made sure he had no lives left if they'd caught him.

Monopoly on the train

Sometimes an image captures the subway riding experience
Photo Credit: Underwoodfive via Reddit

Sometimes an image captures the subway riding experience so well that it requires almost no comment. Take this image of three children playing Monopoly on the train. Posted on Reddit and highlighted on Gothamist, it made complete sense: Instead of playing a video game, why not just break out a good old-fashioned board game? Here are some others you can try on your next hourlong subway commute (or if you get stuck on a disabled train in a tunnel for two hours -- see below).

Pink chicken in a pink stroller

The subway system can be a microcosm of
Photo Credit: discovan via Instagram

The subway system can be a microcosm of bizarre New York. And because it is so crowded, it can concentrate the bizarre that might otherwise be overlooked on the streets. So it happens that sometimes a truly unusual character catches straphangers' attention -- in this case a woman pushing a pink chicken in a pink stroller. The image and a video of the chicken got spread around the Internet, quickly garnering the pink poultry a sort of fame that we all hope will live on through the ages. Because, after all, who doesn't like a pink chicken?

Pizza Rat: New Yorker of the year?

At this point, Pizza Rat needs no introduction.
Photo Credit: Matt Little via YouTube

At this point, Pizza Rat needs no introduction. The rodent, caught on video struggling with an oversized slice of greasy pizza as it made its way down a staircase at a subway station before losing hold of it, came to represent something essential about the New York City experience: Pizza Rat was our own Sisyphus, trying again and again to overcome the sizable slice of pie for one luxurious meal in the urban jungle.

Stuck for hours on the E train but singing

Everyone who has taken the subway has found
Photo Credit: gregwong via YouTube

Everyone who has taken the subway has found themselves at one point or another stuck on a train in the middle of a tunnel wondering if it will ever move. Usually, the train gets going after a few minutes. But what happens when you're stuck on a train for hours? Commuters on a disabled E train spent two hours initially complaining about the lack of underground wireless service so they could call their jobs before breaking out their cellphones and singing to hip hop. The resulting video was more a celebration of New Yorkers' defiance than a documentary of transit misery.

The period underwear ads too offensive for subway officials

Score one for prudishness. When Brooklyn-based THINX sought
Photo Credit: THINX

Score one for prudishness. When Brooklyn-based THINX sought to promote its period underwear to subway commuters, the ads were deemed too suggestive for straphangers -- one even included the seemingly outrageous image of a broken egg yolk and a woman in panties. Even the MTA's chief was offended by them. Told to remove the egg and make other alterations, THINX went public and showed off the ads to publications like feminist blog Jezebel. What ensued was understandable outrage and the MTA caving to allow the ads to go up.

Amazon's Nazi-style ads for 'The Man in the High Castle'

A gimmicky campaign for a new show produced
Photo Credit: Jane Gayduk

A gimmicky campaign for a new show produced by Amazon featuring subway ads of American flags altered with Nazi-like imagery in place of the stars was probably supposed to come off as clever. But Jewish advocates, riders and elected officials didn't see it that way after images of the ads, which only appeared on the 42nd Street subway shuttle beginning in mid-November, spread online. Calls for Amazon to pull them were finally heeded, but the company may have gotten more publicity out of the campaign that it had anticipated.

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