Phil Buehler’s Scrapped Subway Car Project Features NYC’s Lost Train Cars

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All images by Phil Buehler. Used with permission.

The New York City subways weren’t always the well maintained engines that they are today; and Phil Buehler has been shooting in the subways in the early 1970s until the late 80s. This is when the city began its crack down on subway graffiti according to him. Many of the old cars have been retired in favor of much newer technology. “But I’m still shooting railway ruins – it’s a particular interest as my grandfather worked for the New York Central line in the heyday of rail travel.” states Mr. Buehler.

Phil resides in Bushwick–an up and coming part of Brooklyn, NY that is very much so a Mecca of art and creativity. He believes that it’s hard to imagine today how scary New York was in the 70s and 80s as it has changed so much. One of the characteristic features of old New York though was the graffiti on the train cars. These days instead you’ll probably spot advertising covering the outside of a train car.

Mr. Buehler used to go Urban Exploring with his friend Steve Siegel along the decaying Jersey waterfront–way before it was transformed into condos. One day they stumbled upon hundreds of subway cars in Bayonne, lined up waiting to be cut apart and shipped to the smelter. “At the end of the subway graffiti era, the city was buying new stainless steel cars and scrapping many of the old ones, and these were the last of their kind.” states Buehler.

Phil shot many of his images on the venerable Kodachrome 25 and 64 through a 35mm Nikkormat FTN with a 20mm lens–many of which are after the jump.

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