New York City's first subway system officially opened on October 27, 1904, operating along a nine-mile strip from City Hall to 145th Street. Today, in its centennial year, the subway stretches for 685 miles and carries well over four million passengers each day. New Yorkers of every age, nationality, and income level -- -- from commuters and street musicians to evangelists and homeless men and women looking for a warm place to rest -- -- tourists, and curious visitors come together under New York's streets each day. Photographer and sociologist Camilo Vergara captures these chance encounters in images that go back as far as 1970, when the subways were colorfully embellished with graffiti and "cooled" in summer with fans blowing stifling air.
In addition to documenting the trains (including the indestructible "Red Birds") and the diverse riders, Subway Memories depicts New York's cityscapes as seen from the elevated trains that rumble over bridges and wind their way through neighborhoods in Queens, Harlem, Brooklyn, and the Bronx. Vergara's photo essay thus becomes a fascinating portrait of New York itself. Accompanying the color photographs is an introductory essay by Vergara in which he recalls his own "subway memories" and describes his quest to document the changing fabric and identity of the city through its subways.
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