A plaque remaining from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem.

Above, a 1934 plaque from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem. Discarded as trash in 2006.

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Entry from November 05, 2010
Prewalking

"Prewalking” means to stand at the subway platform and board the train in the subway car that will save the most walking time upon exit. “Prewalking” was the Urban Dictionary’s Urban Word of the Day for December 18, 2006.

Randy Kennedy used the term “prewalking” in a New York (NY) Times story on June 5, 2001: 

“The subway holds out unparalleled opportunities for earning true New Yorker ID cards. But the platinum card goes only to those who know how to do something that we can call, for simplicity’s sake, pre-walking.”

Kennedy appears to have coined the term with this column. The 2001 column also appears in his book, Subwayland: Adventures in the world beneath New York (2004). Kennedy mentioned “prewalking” again in a column on August 29, 2004.


Urban Dictionary
prewalking
December 18, 2006 Urban Word of the Day
To position oneself on a subway platform such that, when the passenger steps off the train at his destination, he’ll be as close as possible to the exit or stairs to his transfer. Used and done often in the nyc subway system.
Sorry, I can’t talk with you while we wait for the train. I’ve got to prewalk to the end of the platform.
I save time prewalking.

by OfEternity Oct 30, 2005

New York (NY) Times
Tunnel Vision; The Tricks Involved in Being a Leader of the Pack
By RANDY KENNEDY
Published: June 5, 2001
(...)
The subway holds out unparalleled opportunities for earning true New Yorker ID cards. But the platinum card goes only to those who know how to do something that we can call, for simplicity’s sake, pre-walking.

Pre-walking involves walking to the correct place on your departure platform so that when you get off the train at your destination platform you are at the correct place to zip right through the turnstile or exit you want, allowing you to avoid the crowd and to lead the charge back up into daylight. (In other words, no more trudging behind the living dead who take half an hour to climb a set of stairs.)

Pre-walking is a quintessential true New Yorker trait because it involves not only beating crowds but also beating the clock.

Google Books
Subwayland:
Adventures in the world beneath New York

By Randy Kennedy
New York, NY: St. Martin’s Griffin
2004
Pg. 182:
In other words, pre-walking can divide. Sometimes, however, it unites.

A rider was at the 53rd Street and Lexington Avenue station last Sunday night and pre-walked, as usual, to his spot. Just as the train doors were closing, he looked up and saw that his wife was also on the platform and had pre-walked to the same spot.

New York (NY) Times
NEW YORK 2004: NEW YORK/COPING; Surviving in the Land Down Under
By RANDY KENNEDY
Published: August 29, 2004
(...)
POSITIONING—If you take the same route several times, figure out the quintessential New Yorker trick: prewalking. This means that while you are waiting for your train, walk to the place on the platform that gets you into the car that lets you out at the best place at your destination to make a quick exit (that is, right in front of the best staircase up to a Madison Square Garden entrance). The platform where you are going will usually be the more crowded one. So do your walking on the less crowded one. And while you are at it, you can look purposeful, annoyed and important, like everyone else who seems to be hurrying just to arrive at an unremarkable, gum-stained spot.

Kottke.org
Prewalking
Prewalking: walking down the subway platform so that when you board the train, you’ll be close to the exit or transfer point when the train reaches its destination.
By Jason Kottke • Dec 8, 2006 at 05:38 pm

Kottke.org
NYC subway prewalking aid
Exit Strategy NYC is an iPhone app that tells you where to get on the subway train so as to be in an optimal position when you get off.
(...)
By Jason Kottke • Jul 7, 2009 at 05:42 pm

Village Voice - Runnin’ Scared blog
I Really Do Heart NY
50 Reasons to Be Pretty Damn Euphoric You Live in New York City

By Jen Doll, Wed., Nov. 3 2010 @ 2:07PM
(...)
7. Subway “prewalking,” in which you walk to the exact right spot on the platform to board the train car that will save you the most time upon exit, exists and has a name. Gotta respect.

Posted by Barry Popik
New York CityTransportation • (0) Comments • Friday, November 05, 2010 • Permalink