Synopses & Reviews
October 2004 marks the 100th anniversary of the largest underground transit network in the world. Love it or hate it, if you're a New Yorker, you can't live without it: 3.5 million people ride the rails every day. The subway is as much a symbol of New York City as Central Park and the Statue of Liberty. Commemorating its centennial, this official publication presents an illustrated history of the architecture and design of the entire complex, from the interiors of the trains and the mosaic signage at the stations to the evolution of the token and the intricacy of the intertwined, rainbow-colored lines on the free, foldout map.
Produced with the New York City Transit Museum, "Subway Style documents the aesthetic experience of the system through more than 250 exclusive pictures. The book includes newly commissioned color photographs of historic and contemporary station ornamentation as well as imagery from the Museum's archives. The images span the full century, from the system's inception in the early 1900s up to and including architectural renderings for the still-to-be-built Second Avenue line.
"This fascinating, smartly executed volume should intrigue and entertain anyone with affection for New York City's 'amazingly complex, largely uncelebrated environment,' in the words of critic Giovannini. Given a legacy of three separate systems built during different decades and untidily unified in 1940, the 100-year-old subway's multitudinous elements today uneasily harmonize in 'systematic uniqueness.' Thematic chapters cover ceramic designs, fare collections, signage, advertising and more. Squire Vickers, an architect who served as chief architect of the system from 1906 to 1942, wanted to celebrate the subway's industrial character, yet at the same time used colored tiles to add cheer. A marvelous chapter traces the evolution of subway maps, including the 1972 example of minimalism that turned subway lines into 45- and 90-degree angles. Another surveys subway cars through the years, including rattan upholstery and the beginning of hard fiberglass polyester seats. There's much delight in the old: metal grillwork from the 1930s, the three-dimensional ceramic at Brooklyn's Borough Hall station. There are also stirring signs of the new: freshly commissioned tile mosaics in Chinatown; a restored 1904 station house at 72nd Street and its respectful but better-fed newly built cousin across Verdi Square; funky cast-bronze sculptures at 14th Street. The subway's grittier side is treated somewhat glancingly; a picture from 1970 shows the clutter that led to the ban on vending machines; the new turnstile's design is described as a deterrent to fare-beaters. But this book reminds us that the achievement of the subway, even today, is to function under pressure, above ground and below, with unexpected elements of artistry and grace." Publishers Weekly (Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information, Inc.)
- The NYC Subway Centennial has already begun to receive substantive publicity and this will only continue to grow between now and October.
- An official book of the MTA's NYC Transit Museum, published in commemoration of the subway system centennial.
- Contains more than 250 images from the Museum archives plus a wealth of new photos taken exclusively for this book.
About the Author
The NEW YORK TRANSIT MUSEUM is one of only a handful of museums in the world dedicated to urban public transportation. The Museum's collections of objects, documents, photographs, films, and historic rolling stock illustrate the story of mass transit's critical role in the region's economic and residential development since the beginning of the 20th century. The Transit Museum's main facility is located in a decommissioned 1936 subway station in Brooklyn Heights, an ideal setting for the Museum's 20 vintage subway and elevated cars, and wide-ranging educational programs for children and adults. A gallery annex in Grand Central Terminal presents changing exhibits relevant to the millions of commuters who use mass transit every day.
Photographer Andrew Garn has exhibited his work in galleries around New York City and across the country. His photographs are also held in numerous museum and private collections.