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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.