No, these subway ads aren't from an alternate reality at all. They're from history. And yes, that does appear to be a child laying in a pool of his own blood, while a man walks over to make sure he's really dead.
They're all from old subway cars that make up a large part of the New York Transit Museum, one of the most fascinating – and under-appreciated – museums in all of New York City. The New York City subway system is littered with old, abandoned, and decommissioned stations. Relics like 91st street, on the west side of Manhattan, and 18th street, on the east side of Manhattan, mostly just sit darkened and forlorn, covered in caked-on layers of graffiti.
But not so with the old Court Street station. Built primarily as a station for a service that never even began, it became the home to one of the dinkiest shuttle services in the entire system. Barely used, it was abandoned in 1946, just ten years after it opened. It sat unused until 1960, when the city realized that movies could use it as a set to stand in for other stations.
On July 4th, 1976, the day of America's bicentennial, the station was re-opened to the public once more, as the Transit Museum.
Photo credit: Mark Hogan
It's still capable of functioning as a subway station, with fully-electrified third rails, enabling vintage subway cars to be moved in and out as education needs demand.
Everything about the old subway cars is incredibly interesting, from the way they're riveted together, to the way the seats bounce, to even the smells. They're beautifully preserved, right down to the last detail.
Including the absolutely surreal advertisements, often reflecting completely different sensibilities from today.
It's incredibly rare nowadays to see mainstream ads in New York touting any sort of religious significance, beyond a "Merry Christmas" or "Happy Holidays" around the appropriate time of year. But not only are Campbell's vegetable soups good for Lent, but they were also good for regular Fridays, too, as Catholics were prohibited from eating meat on Fridays before the Second Vatican Council. Now it's just reserved for Fridays during Lent only.
Fun fact: The McDonald's Filet-O-Fish was invented for the very same reason.
The Festival of Gas is also where you might go after having all that vegetable soup.
But seriously, the World's Fair was a humongous deal back in the day. So huge, in fact, that the 1964 World's Fair in New York technically wasn't even an official one. New York had last had the opportunity to host one in 1939 and 1940, and everyone loved it so much they just decided to have another.
If you got a big plate of arugula, baby spinach, heirloom tomatoes, maybe some radish, farmstead double gloucester, some cucumber why not, and then doused it all with mayonnaise as salad dressing, I truly believe that your loved ones would have you forcibly committed to a mental health hospital.
Apparently this was an acceptable practice back in the day, however. To the point where not only was it something you would admit in public, but you were encouraged to do so on your daily commute.
Yep, just use some of this furniture polish, and it'll bring out the good that's in the wood, alright. Also, it'll make your car shine.
Photo credit: Andrew Nash
You don't need Tinder when you've got a hat. Wear hats.
Must your children die in World War III? The only answer is apparently a resounding an enthusiastic "YES!"
Unless, of course, you campaigned for a one-world government. Because back then, anti-globalization protests just didn't attract the cool kids.
Photo credit: Kurt Raschke
What, you thought globalization advocates had the only monopoly on incredibly threatening ads that look like they'd do better in a Robert Heinlein novel?
Keep kids off the grass.
(Drugs, they mean drugs.)
Photo credit: Oliver Mallich
But not long before the subway was telling you not to smoke marijuana, it did tell you that some cigarettes could even be healthy.
Yes, cars were actually conditioned. Not of this fake conditioning crap around here.
Photo credit: Annie Mole
And this, ladies and gentlemen, is how we won the Cold War. President Dewey saved us all.
All photos credit Michael Ballaban/Jalopnik unless otherwise noted.