‘NY Train Project’ Tours NYC Through the Eyes of a Subway Rider
You don’t know New York City until you’ve ridden the subway. It can be crowded, dank and oftentimes (especially during the summer months) repugnant as millions of city dwellers pack themselves into moving tin cans. But as grimy as traveling underground is, if you can take a step back, you’ll find plenty of beauty in the subway.
Freelance art director and sometimes photographer Adam Chang always wanted to move to New York City. A graduate from the University of Central Florida, Chang found his way to New York eight years ago, but his fascination with subway signage began in the summer of 2013 when he started the NY Train Project.
“[It started] on Bleecker Street, when I saw this sign and how different that was. After that, I just started paying a little bit more attention to the other ones. I wanted to make something that would be sort of where people would go and reminisce about if they did live in NY … or just people that live here. I’m sure a lot of people rush through the subway all the time without paying attention,” Chang told Mashable.
Beginning with the curvy, blue ceramic sign at the Bleecker Street station along the 6 train, Chang photographed all 118 Manhattan subway stops. But instead of just uploading the photographs, Chang illustrates each of them digitally, presenting the signs as they should be seen — as clear and pristine works of art.
“I think it was just a little bit more challenging to go back and re-illustrate and also make it more consistent,” Chang said. “I like [the signs] in person, just the age and the character … I wanted something clean and simple for the presentation, but I think it still reflects the same.”
Looking through the project’s website is like taking a trip around the city, but instead of seeing landmarks like the Statue of Liberty or Times Square, you’re peering in at the intimate details that truly make New York City iconic.
By Chang’s estimate, he has spent around 20 hours on the New York subway system. As with any traveller, he runs into many of the same troubles as a person would on his morning commute. “So many people get off that I can’t get a clear shot. So I get off, let everyone move, get a shot and wait for the next train.”
Brooklyn, Queens and the Bronx will have to wait their turns. Chang is planning on expanding the project to the outer boroughs, which have 321 stations combined.
Chang hopes his project can be seen as a resource for people, as well as a talking point. “People have been asking if they can download it as an app, but it’s not there yet. But ultimately I think if I could work somehow with a transit museum or MTA and do some collaboration I think that would be awesome.”