After L Train Whiplash, We Offer a Visual Meditation on New York City Transportation

After L Train Whiplash, We Offer a Visual Meditation on New York City Transportation

Following Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s stunning announcement yesterday that he is canceling the impending shutdown of the L train, the New York City subway system has been on our minds. And whether you love it or hate it, the fact remains that our fair city’s intricate web of tracks, tunnels, bridges and trains is a feat of human engineering and innovation — not to mention a democratizing space where people from all backgrounds and communities converge daily. Perhaps that’s why New York’s trains, and the people who ride them, have been a continual source of fascination and inspiration for artists and writers for more than a century. To honor the hole in the ground through which we ride every day, we’ve rounded up some of our favorite visual representations of the subway.

A postcard created by Charles Bauer in 1909. Image courtesy Library of Congress.

 

Lily Furedi’s “Subway,” 1934. Image courtesy Smithsonian American Art Museum.

 

Tunnel construction at Broadway and 38th St. in 1908. Photo courtesy Library of Congress.

 

Alen MacWeeney’s “Young Black Woman in New Coat: Tough Looking Man in Small Hat,” ca. 1977-1979. Photo courtesy New York Public Library’s Digital Collections.

 

Francis Luis Mora’s “Subway riders in New York City,” 1914.

 

William Meyers’s “Yankee Stadium, Bronx: October 3, 2006.” Photo courtesy New York Public Library’s Digital Collections.

 

A tagged subway car in 1973 was captured by Erik Calonius, who was hired by the Environmental Protection Agency to photograph the subway system for the Documerica project of the 1970s.

 

The 7 train rolls into an elevated station in Long Island City. Photo by Carol M. Highsmith.

 

Top Image: Detail from Lily Furedi’s “Subway,” 1934. Image courtesy Smithsonian American Art Museum.