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. Now a Popeyes fast food restaurant on Google Maps.

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Entry from July 17, 2005
Iron Maiden or HEET (High Entrance/Exit Turnstile)
Did you ever go into the subway and see those metal bars in a revolving door-type entrance? That's an "iron maiden" or a "High Entrance/Exit Turnstile" (HEET).

The HEETs have come under fire for being inadequate in terror situations where people must enter or exit quickly. The name "iron maiden" comes not from the rock band, but the "iron maiden" torture machine.

(Oxford English Dictionary)
iron maiden, an instrument of torture consisting of a coffin-shaped box lined inside with iron spikes, inside which the victim is confined; also transf. and fig.; also <>iron maid

1895 Brewer's Dict. Phr. & Fable (new ed.) 662/2 *Iron Maiden of Nuremberg,..a box big enough to admit a man, with folding-doors, the whole studded with sharp iron spikes. When the doors were pressed-to these spikes were forced into the body of the victim... (German, Eiserne Jungfrau.) 1958 J. BALDWIN in W. King Black Short Story Anthol. (1972) 278 Then she hated herself; thinking into what an iron maiden of love and hatred he had placed her, she hated him even more. 1962 F. I. ORDWAY et al. Basic Astronautics xii. 465 Submerged in this water-filled 'iron maiden'..a subject was able to withstand 31 G for a period of 5 sec. 1972 Daily Tel. 11 Oct. 19/7 The 'callous and inhuman' treatment of a Moscow Jewish scientist said to have been incarcerated in an 'iron maiden'... He had been held..in a cell measuring 3 ft by 18 inches... The walls of the cell were covered with spikes which prevented him leaning or sitting down

HEET High-entrance-and-exit revolving turnstiles that provide service at unstaffed locations and discourage fare-beaters.

High wheel/High turnstile

A "turnstile" similar to a revolving door, also sometimes called "iron maidens". Until recently most of these were exit-only (called a "high exit turnstile" or HET). Newer ones have Metrocard readers on the outside to provide unattended entrance. These are called the "high entrance/exit turnstile", or HEET.

(Google Groups)
MBTA closing entrances at Harvard, Haymarket, NEMC at night
... Although the Transit Authority calls them "high-wheel turnstiles", the unofficial nickname for these critters is "Iron Maiden". ...  
ne.general - Jan 4 1996, 8:47 pm by Ed Ravin - 20 messages - 14 authors

(Google Groups)
Metrocards and Iron Maidens
... The MTA is procuring 400 new High Entry/Exit Turnstiles (HEET's) which will be MetroCard capable. -- Dan -- DANIEL CONVISSOR : Newt has all the answers. ...  
nyc.transit - May 15 1996, 3:43 pm by Daniel Convissor - 4 messages - 4 authors

(Google Groups)
Riverside Line and commuter rail
... (Trust the turnstiles?) Yeah, but they were full-height "iron maiden" turnstiles. What did one do if one lacked a token? ... Only to bypass a turnstile, I think. ...  
ne.transportation - Sep 22 1996, 3:17 pm by Robert Coe - 202 messages - 23 authors

(Google Groups)
Fare collection overnight on the subways
.(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) (Cap'n Bludd) said : What's an Iron Maiden? A highwheel turnstile, the kind you see at entrances that are not manned 24 hours a day. ...  
nyc.transit - Jan 15 1997, 1:46 pm by Peter Dougherty - 21 messages - 15 authors

(Google Groups)
Old turnstiles disposition?
... No button: they work just like low turnstiles. ... Like the old Iron Maidens, the HEET has a meshing comb to prevent the gate from being used for entry the wrong ...  
nyc.transit - Jul 6 1998, 4:02 pm by Jonathan J. Baker - 22 messages - 15 authors

(Google Groups)
... Initiative project entailing the new farecard MetroCard Vending Machine (MVM), MetroCard Refill Machine (MRM), High Entry-Exit Turnstile (HEET), Debit/Credit ...  
us.jobs.resumes - Jan 4 2000, 1:26 am by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) - 10 messages - 1 author

7 February 1983, New York Times, "Youth Stealing Subway Tokens By Sucking on Turnstile Slots" by Ari L. Goldman, pg. B1:
In another instance, a youngster had jammed a turnstile at an isolated end of the 59th Street-Columbus Circle Station. The turnstile was the high-gated variety, known as an ''iron maiden,'' and there was no token clerk in sight.

22 February 1987, Newsday, "Subway Journal" by Jim Dwyer, pg. 12:
There are three turnstiles into this BMT-IRT station, but only two are open; at the third one, the clerk is counting the take and tells the straphangers that they can't use it. Instead, he directs them to the "iron maiden" - a token-operated gate.

The "iron maiden" is locked - although a sign outside says it should be open for another hour, until 7 p.m.

12 March 1998, New York Daily News, pg. 2:
By the end of July, the Transit Authority will install a MetroCard High Entrance/Exit Turnstile (HEET) at the W. Sixth St. entrance of the W. Eighth St. subway station on the D and F lines.

The turnstile will provide 24-hour access to the station's escalator.

25 May 2005, New York Daily News, "Our Underground Gated Community" by Michael Daly, pg. 22:
The lady with the bag proceeded with the rush-hour crowd toward the nearest exit to the street at the uptown end of the platform. There she encountered a pair of what are officially termed High Entrance/Exit Turnstiles, or HEET.

In everyday parlance, these revolving portals are called high- wheels, or more colloquially, iron maidens. They are impossible to crawl under or scramble over, and they were the nearest passable exit.

There was a trio of waist-high turnstiles that would have allowed the crowd to pass through almost as if there were no barrier, but they were barred. The Transit Authority did not want people hopping these lower turnstiles now that the booth there has been permanently closed.

The high-wheels were designed to keep the TA from losing even a single fare, but anybody who approaches them too quickly risks getting whacked by the revolving steel bars. Anyone who goes through them with too much force is liable to cause the next person to be whacked.

14 July 2005, New York Daily News, "Riders Can't Stand HEET" by Pete Donohue, pg. 8:
"There would be a backlog" at the HEETs, said Lee, 29, a research administrator from the Bronx, on a recent morning. "There's no one to open the [emergency] gate to allow people to move quickly. If there's a lot of panic, you could get jammed. You can't climb over anything - it's a full-body cage."

A token booth and bank of low-bar turnstiles were dismantled in February 2004 and the TA put up three HEETs and one exit-only highwheel.

Like several riders using the exit recently, Lee was unaware that on both sides of the turnstiles are intercoms to talk to a clerk at a full-time booth 400 feet down the platform, who could open emergency gates with the push of a button.

City Councilman Peter Vallone Jr. sent a letter to the agency Wednesday blasting the high entrance/exit turnstiles installed throughout the subway system. Vallone says the floor-to-ceiling gates, known as HEET gates, would create a "death trap" for straphangers, with no way to get through, around, or over them.

Riders having trouble getting out of a station with the tall turnstiles have had to call an agent, who can remotely open an exit gate.

The HEET gates are typically installed at unmanned entrances to the subway. The MTA says the gates improve access to the subways and prevent turnstile jumping.

Posted by Barry Popik
Transportation • Sunday, July 17, 2005 • Permalink

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