Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Subway Memories by Camilo Jose Vergara

I've always harbored a bit of nostalgia for the New York City subway and its varied history—the different styles of subway cars, the long lost abandoned stations, and of course the spectacular graffiti that has since been wiped clean. 

So when I saw this small hardcover book on a table at the Strand, I decided I needed it. The photos might not be on a par with the likes of, say, Bruce Davidson's Subway, but they are still lovely (I'm a sucker for old color photos), and there is something appealing about the snapshot-like quality, especially paired with the subject matter. Taken by a Chilean-born writer, photographer, and documentarian (referred to as "the Jacob Riis of our time" for his documentation of American slums), they span the course of several decades, as early as 1970. They work very well as a collection, portraying Vergera's unique perspective. 

The lighting in this one is so beautiful.

I love the kids looking out the back window at the tracks disappearing behind them.

Some of the photos span across both pages, printed right to the edge. 

There's something wondrous about these rusting subway cars (or at least that's what I think they are) piled up and decaying--like slain monsters. Or something.

And what is up with that guy's outfit?

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