clock menu more-arrow no yes

Manspreading has been a problem on public transit for 60 years

Manspreading is nothing new.

Men's habit of taking up too much room on public transportation seats has gotten a lot of attention lately, with the MTA — which runs New York's subway — launching an official campaign against manspreading last month.

But as a new exhibit at the New York Transit Museum shows, manspreading — and all other sorts of public transit etiquette issues — has been around for decades.

subway ad manspreading

(New York Transit Museum)

Thanks to New York Magazine for spotting these fascinating vintage ads, drawn by artist Amelia Opdyke-Jones and featured in the museum's new exhibition "From Sitting to Spreading: Subway Etiquette Then and Now."

In the late 1940s, these ads were printed in the Subway Sun, a long-running etiquette campaign published by a precursor to the MTA and designed to look like a newspaper. As you can see, subway riders of yore also had problems with:

Leaning on poles

leaning on pole ad

(New York Transit Museum)

Leaning into other people

leaning subway ad

(New York Transit Museum)

Blocking the door

blocking door subway ad

(New York Transit Museum)

Not letting people off the train before getting on

train ad 5

(New York Transit Museum)

Putting their feet up

train ad 6

(New York Transit Museum)

One problem that didn't exist in the 1940s: people blaring music on their phones without headphones.