Greenpoint, October, 2015

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Who Killed Cardvark? (Part Two)

Home schooler triumphs!
There we were, deep in the bowels of the MTA archives. My research assistant and I, like Woodward and Bernstein--if you can imagine Carl Bernstein as a blond, thirteen year old girl--digging through folders, record boxes, and binders of MetroCard-related swag. I have to admit, I was beginning to lose hope (after about 10 minutes), when Sr. Research Assistant Lucy exclaimed, "There he is!"

Sure enough, she had found a story from Newsday from July 27, 1993. The paper's "In the Subway" reporter, Ellis Henican described how the MTA, as part of its plan to "hype" the soon to be launched MetroCard, decided the system needed a mascot: "a dumb-looking, snout-nosed, big-eared, bug-eyed, round-cheeked, pot-bellied, card-pitching mascot." Way harsh, dude.

(Courtesy MTA Transit Museum Archives)
After that discovery, it took only moments to locate a draft report commissioned by the MTA with its "Metropolitan Marketing Plan" for MetroCard. There, among other "kick-off events" was the genesis of "The Cardvaark" (sic): "Create a character to symbolize MetroCard--a high-tech, yet lovable creature who can 'sell' the card." (p. 57). The appendix of the report includes the sketch you see here.

"Dumb-looking, snout-nosed..., pot-bellied" or "high-tech, yet lovable creature." Reader, you decide. Tomorrow: Did The Cardvaark "sell" the MetroCard or get sold down the river? The mystery of who killed Cardvaark solved!


  1. after all these years, Paydirt! congratulations to you and your crack team.

  2. This is so clearly a triumph of homeschooling (it is one word within the community, I don't care what the New York Times says). I would add it to our quarterly report, if I still had to write them.