New York City Subway, Pre-iPod: Reckless and Untamed

>Photos often provide a glimpse of a time that, despite a separation of a few decades, often seems alien to us. Artist Sean Kernick invites us to take a trip into his childhood with a collection of photographs by Bruce Davidson, John F. Conn, Jamel Shabazz and Martha Cooper, detailing life on a widely-recognizable symbol of New York City in the 1980's: the subway. Kernick explains the project:

I always had an affinity for the New York City subway during the late 70's and early 80's. It represented the blood-filled arteries of a city pumping with organic, authentic, city-brewed culture. It was covered with tags and pieces while filled with people of every size, shape, age and color. It was reckless and untamed and most importantly, it was New York City.
Picture 4.jpg

Bruce Davidson



Perusing the gallery of gritty snapshots, one thing becomes particularly salient: there's an almost unfamiliar energy and intensity flowing through New York City subway. Today, many commuters wall themselves off in a personal bubble of their smartphones, e-Readers, or the odd newspaper. Before the promulgation of the personal CD player or cell phone, every moment on the subway allows for human interaction. Could a photographer prowling the A train capture the same images today?

See the full gallery at Two Four Flinching.

Presented by

Jared Keller is a journalist based in New York. He has written for Bloomberg Businessweek, Pacific Standard, and Al Jazeera America, and is a former associate editor for The Atlantic.

Join the Discussion

After you comment, click Post. If you’re not already logged in you will be asked to log in or register with Disqus.

Please note that The Atlantic's account system is separate from our commenting system. To log in or register with The Atlantic, use the Sign In button at the top of every page.

blog comments powered by Disqus

Video

Photos of New York City, in Motion

A filmmaker animated hundreds of still photographs to create this flip-book tour of the Big Apple.

Video

The Absurd Psychology of Restaurant Menus

Would people eat healthier if celery was called "cool celery?"

Video

This Japanese Inn Has Been Open For 1,300 Years

It's one of the oldest family businesses in the world.

Video

What Happens Inside a Dying Mind?

Science cannot fully explain near-death experiences.

More in Entertainment

Just In