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.
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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.

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Jared Keller is a former associate editor for The Atlantic and The Atlantic Wire and has also written for Lapham's Quarterly's Deja Vu blog, National Journal's The Hotline, Boston's Weekly Dig, and Preservation magazine. 

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