Posted in Unexplained Phenomena

Giant on a New York City Subway Train

On a number of occasions, I have seen odd things and I have sometimes wondered if I am the only person seeing them. The following is an account of one such occasion.

This incident took place around the winter of 2006. I live about 20 miles from Midtown Manhattan, in northeastern New Jersey. Despite my close proximity to New York City, I do not often go there. I generally dislike cities and crowds and I especially find NYC to be a cold and impersonal town. While an occasional day trip can be enjoyable, I generally avoid going into “The City”, as we north Jersey suburbanites refer to New York, NY.

Despite my misgivings about The City, and the unpleasant thought of making a daily slog to and from the island of Manhattan, this particular job offer was too tempting to pass up and so I accepted the interview. The job interview went smoothly and I left it feeling that I had made a positive impression, which is all a person can hope for: do your best to represent yourself and leave them with a good impression. The rest is beyond your control.

After exchanging the standard parting pleasantries with my interviewers, I exited the company’s small corporate office on E. 18th Street in NYC’s Flatiron District. My plan, carefully laid out the day before, was to make my way south to the E. 14th Street subway station, approximately a 5-minute walk, and then board that subway train, which travels north to the Port Authority Midtown Bus Terminal. There I would take the bus back to New Jersey and to the Ridgewood Park-and-Ride station where my car was parked. From there, it was only a few minutes’ drive home.

145th Street Subway Station sign, New York City
14th Street Subway Station New York City

I hurriedly walked toward my destination, eager to get out of the rain and sleet that was falling steadily and to make my way home. After a few minutes, I arrived at the 14th Street Station and descended from the street into the dim subway, located my train, and approached the platform. There I stood, standing shoulder to shoulder with the many other commuters as we moved slowly toward the subway train, shuffling together as one, like some huge single-celled organism.

As we made our way forward, all at once a startling figure came into view just ahead of me and slightly to my left. It was a man, well-dressed in a navy blue woolen overcoat, unbuttoned to reveal a finely-tailored suit and an expensive-looking tie. In his left hand, he carried a handsome leather briefcase. In most respects, he was a normal and affluent-looking businessman — except for the fact that this man was huge. Unquestionably, this was the largest human being that I have ever seen. He easily stood head and shoulders above even the taller men who stood nearby.

This man was not only extremely tall, but he also appeared to be massively built, and in no way fat. Beneath his expensive overcoat and business suit, he gave the impression of being freakishly broad and thickly muscled and his clothing could not hide his massive chest, shoulders, and neck. He appeared so wide at the shoulders that I couldn’t imagine he would be able to pass through most doorways without turning sideways – and probably having to duck his head as well.

The crowd on the subway platform condensed and began to shuffle forward with more urgency in anticipation of the train arriving. As I moved forward I found myself within a few feet of this giant. I looked intently at him for as long as I believed I could without appearing rude, then looked away before again sneaking another furtive glance. His height and overall mass were simply astonishing. Oddly though, no one else appeared to take any notice of this gigantic man.

Now, I once had a co-worker who was a legitimate seven-footer (approx. 2.14 meters tall), and let me tell you: if you have never stood side-by-side with a seven-foot human, it is rather astounding. I’m not a small guy myself. I stand six-feet two-inches in my bare feet, about six-foot-three inches (1.9 m) with my shoes on, and my 7-foot co-worker was much taller than me. I’d say that my head was shoulder-level with him, making him about a head taller than me — which is somewhat jarring, particularly when you are unaccustomed to having to look up at people.

This man in the subway station, however, was significantly taller than my former co-worker, that much I could easily ascertain. Although I was not quite side-by-side with him, I was close enough to this man to see where the top of my head lined up with his body, and I would say I was just above elbow-level to him. Yes, the top of my head reached only slightly higher than his elbow, or about his upper abdomen-lower chest area. This is to say that this man was not just a head taller than me, he was head, shoulders, and chest taller than me! My guess then, is that he was 1.5 feet to 2 feet (0.46m – 0.61m) taller than myself. So, conservatively, he was seven feet and 9 inches tall (about 2.36 meters) and perhaps more than eight feet tall (2.44 m).

My honest assessment is that this man was a full two feet (or about 61 cm) taller than myself, and perhaps even a bit taller than that. I will remind you that he was also monstrously built — a modern-day Goliath. I have trained with weights since my teenage years and I am a big-framed guy and solidly built, weighing over 220 lbs (100 kg). But in the presence of this hulking fellow, I felt puny and frail.

Gigantism: a medical condition

As most know, people who reach extraordinary physical height often do so because of a benign tumor on their pituitary gland, leading to a condition called gigantism. The pituitary regulates the release of our body’s growth hormone, and if it is defective in some way or affected by a tumor, it can release far too much growth hormone, resulting in exceptional growth in height. However, these unfortunate people are usually not robustly built. They tend to be rather spindly and most have numerous orthopedic issues due to their unregulated growth spurts. They often require leg and/or arm braces or other assistive medical devices to move about.

Robert Wadlow world's tallest man
Robert Wadlow, world’s tallest man

A most famous example of this condition was a young man from the state of Illinois USA who lived in the first half of the last century, Robert Wadlow. Wadlow stood eight feet and eleven inches tall (2.72 m) but, to his misfortune, had numerous orthopedic problems throughout his brief life. He passed away in 1940 at twenty-two years old.

While I don’t think the man on the subway was quite as tall as the 8′ 11″ Wadlow, he did not exhibit any outward signs of gigantism that I could notice. He was not at all lanky and spindly – very much the opposite, in fact – and he did not appear to suffer from any outward signs of orthopedic problems. He wore no leg or arm braces that I could see and when he began to walk, he walked in a perfectly normal manner.

In the shadow of a behemoth

The subway train eventually pulled up to the platform. The car doors slid open with a hiss and everyone pushed forward, and in typical polite New Yorker fashion, began bumping and jostling one another in an attempt to enter quickly and secure an available seat. The humongous man to my left moved forward too but in an unhurried fashion. He carried himself almost regally I thought, and (unsurprisingly) no one bumped or jostled him. Indeed, no one seemed to heed his massive presence at all.

Bending at the waist to lower his head, while turning slightly to one side, he entered the subway train car. I followed immediately behind him and found myself standing inside the train beneath the shadow of this behemoth. I worked my way back a few feet within the crowded train, only because I needed a bit more distance to view this mountain of a man. He now faced me directly, his head bowed to avoid scraping the roof of the train. After a moment I realized that he had seen me staring at him.

“The poor man.” I thought, “He must be tired of people looking at him as if he is some sort of circus freak.” I felt sorry about my poor manners. Just as I was thinking this, I noticed he was still looking at me. When I met his gaze I felt a sudden urge to say something in reply, to blurt out some clumsy apology for my impolite gawking. However, before I could say anything, this gigantic man gave me a warm and slightly amused smile. He had obviously seen my stricken look of embarrassment and his smile seemed to say, “don’t worry about it.” That is how I interpreted it, at least. I returned a grateful smile and looked down at my shoes, trying to resist the urge to continue to stare at this seemingly gentle giant.

Fighting that urge was, unfortunately, a losing battle and I brought my gaze up from my shoes to again glance – quickly – at this monstrous man. Facially, he looked to me to be of southern Italian or Sicilian heritage. I am Sicilian on my mother’s side and, living in the New York-New Jersey area most of my life I often meet people of Italian heritage, as there is no shortage of us in our region of the country. In my opinion, he looked Italian but might have been of some other Mediterranean ancestry. He was olive-skinned and his hair was curly and dark and he had warm brown eyes beneath heavy black eyebrows.

For all his daunting physicality, the face of this huge man was serene and kindly. In truth, I thought he very much resembled my late Uncle Vinny, the husband of my mother’s younger sister. I was very fond of Uncle Vinny, and he passed away tragically at age forty-six when I was ten years old. I remember my uncle as if I saw him yesterday and the fact that this man resembled him, along with his sympathetic smile and genial face, gave me a good feeling. More than that, I felt that he exuded a tranquil, loving, and almost holy aura. I felt at peace in his presence rather than intimidated.

A short while later, the subway reached its destination at the Port Authority bus terminal, and both the gigantic man and I exited the train and walked in separate directions. That was the last I saw of him, but I have thought of him often through the years since that wordless encounter.

A giant unheeded in their midst

Beyond the almost unbelievable proportions of the man, which I have described at length here, I have often wondered about the fact that no one appeared to take any notice of him at all. That realization only dawned on me afterward, and the more I have pondered it, the more puzzled by this I have become. Of course, New Yorkers are famously jaded and callous, and the fact that no one paid any mind to what was basically the Incredible Hulk in a business suit might not be all that improbable. And yet…

A few years later, I took my sons to New York City to see the annual NY International Auto Show at the Jacob Javits Convention Center. The auto show always gets a huge turnout and the day I took my boys there was no different: the place was mobbed. As we walked through the convention center, two very tall young men strode past us. They towered above the crowd and people stared at them as they passed. I observed one young woman stop them. “Excuse me?” she asked, “How tall are you guys?” They appeared to be good-natured young men and they laughed, replying, “My friend is six-feet eleven inches and I’m seven-feet one inch.” “Wow!” the young lady exclaimed.

I am relating this story to illustrate a point. Here I was back in New York City and most people gawked unabashedly at these two men who were far shorter and much more slightly built and overall far less physically impressive than the subway train giant. And yet, no one that I observed that day in the subway station so much as glanced at an 8-foot colossus. For me, it was all I could do not to gape at him like an imbecile. Honestly, how often do you see an eight-foot-plus, massively muscled human being? As far as I am aware, such people do not even exist. Why would you not stare in astonishment at such a person? Nevertheless, his presence seemed to go entirely unacknowledged by the crowds of commuters that day.

As I continued to ponder this unusual aspect of my encounter a disturbing possibility occurred to me: Could it be that the presence of this gigantic being went seemingly unnoticed because I was the only one who saw him? Or perhaps more to the point, was I the only person capable of seeing him? Or meant to see him? This would not be the first or last time I have seen unusual things or have had an unexplained experience in the plain light of day. Not all encounters with the unknown happen alone in the dark of night and in isolated areas.

Mortal Man or an Encounter with an Angel?

archangel illustration

Lastly, I have wondered about the nature of this person. If I was the only person in that subway station able to see this huge man, then was he a man at all? Was he, perhaps, an angelic being? I have read reports by people who claim to have had encounters with angels and they often describe them as being very tall and powerfully built. Was this “man” on the subway an angel or archangel? As I said, I felt a strong sense of goodness and serenity, even holiness, when I stood in his presence and he looked at me. I feel strongly that whoever, or whatever he was, he was benevolent.

Of course, he might have been a mere mortal, nothing more than an extraordinary, anomalous physical specimen. I find this notion unlikely, however. I have met some very tall men, yet no one close to being as tall as this man. I have also known some tremendously large and muscular weight lifters and professional football players back when I worked in the health club industry (some of the NY Giants football players were regulars at our gym) but none compared to the immense size of this subway Goliath.

Also, I would think that the odds of seeing someone so exceptionally tall and so massively built and muscular would be astronomically small. If such a person existed, would he not be an internationally recognized figure, a celebrity? This is a man who would make Icelandic strongman Hafþór Björnsson (“The Mountain” from the Game of Thrones HBO series) look anemic. Wouldn’t people recognize him and clamor for his autograph, rather than utterly ignoring him? Instead, he wore the attire of a well-heeled Wall Street executive and the surrounding crowd seemed to take no more notice of him than they would of any other New York City businessman. Weird, is all I can say.

I suppose this is just one more odd, unexplained experience that I periodically have had throughout my life. I am long past agonizing over the meaning of these encounters. I am content with writing about them and sharing them here at The Paranormalist.

About John Carlson

John C, A.K.A. "The Paranormalist", is a bipedal primate from New Jersey, USA. He has had a lifelong fascination with all things strange and unexplained and has even had some actual face time with the supernatural on several occasions. John is always eager to hear about the experiences of others who have also had encounters with the unknown.

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