08 October 2007

A slice of pizza: The Harbinger

pic from New York City Diary

In 1985, the great George Fasel, a vice president at Bankers Trust, discovered the link betwixt a slice of pizza and the subway fares in New York City. He first wrote about it in The Times and he was right.

In 1960, for example, the fare was 15 cents and so was a slice of pizza.

Gene Russianoff, a leader of the Straphangers Campaign, the subway-riders advocacy group, admits, ''I do believe there is some kind of historical correlation." I suppose it's just too coincidental to ignore.

In the early 70's, the fare rose to from 15 to 35 cents. And so did pizza.

And through the years, the increases went more or less in tandem.

Just before the price of a subway token went up in 1995, it stood at $1.25, lagging behind the $1.35 typically charged for a slice. Obviously, it was time for a fare increase. Thus did the $1.50 token come to be... and then the $1.50 slice which stood for many years.

In May of 2003, the fare was hiked to $2.00 per ride. And pizza followed. And lately I've noticed a few brazen pizzerias here and there are asking for $2.25 a slice, moving on and away from the aging $2.00 fare... just in time for the MTA to be considering a few possibilities for upcoming bus and subway fare hikes in 2008.

The two ideas on the table at present are a traditional rate hike and a rate hike with an off-peak option - riders would get a discount if they use NYC mass transit during off-peak hours. So will this mean if I can find a pizzeria open at 3am, I'll get a discounted slice? Now that would be awesome.

Some other lesser known and truly odd NYC correlations/superstitions:

  • Historically, stocks have fallen in the year of a Super Bowl victory by a team from the old American Football League. This includes the New York Jets, who were originally The Titans. But don't worry, they'll never get there.

  • After every World Series appearance by the Mets -- in 1969, 1973, 1986 and 2000 -- Wall Street fared poorly the next year. You think this is silly? Fine. But do you have another explanation for the Crash of '87? The far more frequent presence of the Yankees in the World Series usually leads to rises in the Dow Jones industrial average. But the Dow has also tended to do even better when the Yankees lose the Series. So their imminent defeat may be another sign that Wall Street will sparkle this year. And I dunno about you but Mickey Mantle never paid my rent, so I'd rather a good year on The Street. HOLLA!


Anonymous said...

Wikipedia has an article about the pizza/subway correlation:

It wasn't George Fasel (who is a writer, not a banker); it was someone else, who had notified The Times five years earlier, in 1980. You can read the articles cited here and George Fasel's letter here.

Gotham City Insider said...

I, too, am a writer, employed by a bank. I bet there are many of us "bankers".