Beneath The Streets, New York’s Century Old Underground in Photos and Aerosol

New York’s train system carries an estimated five million per day, is a little over a hundred years old, and for most is limited to the ride. Urban explorers, graffiti writers, artists, photographers and homeless people have often found it to be a destination they are drawn into for myriad additional reasons. You will most likely pass through the tunnels of course while encapsulated in a train car perhaps multiple times in a day, but few will ever venture off the end of the platform or through a hole in a fence to explore the hidden world beneath the streets of New York.

brooklyn-street-art-matthew-litwack-jurne-beneath-the-streets-jaime-rojo-09-14-web-1

“Beneath The Streets” Matthew Litwack and JURNE. Gingko Press, 2014. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

And that is good, says Matthew Litwick, who along with JURNE released Beneath the Streets (Gingko Press) this summer, because along with the thrill of exploring the forbidden tunnels and abandoned stations beneath the feet of millions, a certain deadly threat of the third rail exists as well. During a recent presentation of images and stories from the new hardcover Litwick stressed a number of times the instant electrocution that can result from accidentally touching it, a point underscored by the death this July of graffiti writer Jason Wulf, a titan of the New York scene.

brooklyn-street-art-matthew-litwack-jurne-beneath-the-streets-jaime-rojo-09-14-web-2

“Beneath The Streets” Matthew Litwack and JURNE. Gingko Press, 2014. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

So with that in mind, your fascination will be either sated or encouraged by the eerily vast and sometimes wondrously lit tunnels in some of these photos as well as the more everyday snapshots culled from many collections that illustrate the book. Punctuated throughout with descriptions that lean toward the educational, you also find personal experiences and viewpoints from well known graffiti writers and explorers about their time underground that helps put scenes in context.

Included among the piles of rotting trash, debris, crash walls, bumpers, taggers, throwies, and REVS diary pages is at least one completely legal installation, the Masstransiscsope by artist Bill Brand in collaboration with Creative Time, a 228 panel display from 1980 visible from passing trains that creates the illusion of an animation.

brooklyn-street-art-matthew-litwack-jurne-beneath-the-streets-jaime-rojo-09-14-web-3

“Beneath The Streets” Matthew Litwack and JURNE. Gingko Press, 2014. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Steering carefully away from depicting the abandoned stations and hidden spots as simply a bombers wet dream, the authors notably give a solid appreciation to understanding the trains and the system itself, including scholarly passages and photographs about the history of the planning, building, and maintaining of the tunnels and tracks, as well as the conditions that workers endured during its creation.

“Until now, graffiti writers, subway enthusiasts, and transit workers have been some of the only people to take notice of these environments,” say Litwick and Jurne in their forward. “This book intends to provide an up-close and introspective look at a world that a handful … have been able to experience and observe outside of the confines of a speeding train.”

brooklyn-street-art-matthew-litwack-jurne-beneath-the-streets-jaime-rojo-09-14-web-5

“Beneath The Streets” Matthew Litwack and JURNE. Gingko Press, 2014. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

brooklyn-street-art-matthew-litwack-jurne-beneath-the-streets-jaime-rojo-09-14-web-6

“Beneath The Streets” Matthew Litwack and JURNE. Gingko Press, 2014. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

brooklyn-street-art-matthew-litwack-jurne-beneath-the-streets-jaime-rojo-09-14-web-7

“Beneath The Streets” Matthew Litwack and JURNE. Gingko Press, 2014. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

brooklyn-street-art-matthew-litwack-jurne-beneath-the-streets-jaime-rojo-09-14-web-8

“Beneath The Streets” Matthew Litwack and JURNE. Gingko Press, 2014. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

See examples of the photos in the book by following their INSTAGRAM @beneaththestreetsnyc

 

 

Please follow and like us: