Vintage Subway

Each year during the holidays, the MTA takes a break from its usual soul-crushing inefficiency to treat New Yorkers to a bit of subway nostalgia by operating a handful of vintage train cars around the city. I’ve seen them in passing over the years, but never took the opportunity to have a closer look, but this year was a good chance to indulge for a couple of reasons. Not only were there multiple eras of train cars on show from the 1930’s through the 1970’s, but this would be the first year I’d have a camera in hand.

I should also take this moment to point out that I read a book titled ‘The Race Underground‘ a couple of years ago which detailed the construction of the subway systems in New York and Boston, so getting a peek at this time capsule was particularly interesting for me!

Equipped with my Fuji X-T1 and 18-55mm zoom lens, I descended into 2nd Ave in Manhattan to snap some photos. This was the last weekend that the cars were running so I shouldn’t have been surprised that it was absolute insanity on the platform. Originally my plan was to hop on the train for a few stops and get some pictures of the interior, but it was already overflowing with people.

The exterior of the train was interesting enough, though, as were the people who decided to dress in period clothing, despite the freezing rain above ground, and the jazz musicians setup along the platform. The entire thing would have felt much more like a trip back through time had it not been for the anachronistic North Face jackets and Nikon cameras shuffling about.

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159 thoughts on “Vintage Subway

    1. Thank you! I’m pretty new to 35mm shooting myself, but the biggest lesson I’ve learned so far is not being afraid to get in close. Always be respectful and ask permission if you can, but nothing beats a crisp shot from a couple meters away.

  1. Kind of inspiring. I don’t know how the metro works in New York, but here in Minnesota there’s a robot voice that does all the announcements. I’d much rather step backwards in time than forwards.

    1. We have that same automated voice here as well :/ Granted it is better than the conductors doing it manually through the PA system because the audio is terrible, haha!

  2. Love the photos and how subway riders participated in creating a greater feeling of nostalgia by dressing in old fashioned clothing and playing music. Seems like people were part of a movie set!

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