in transit

Ever since my first visit to the big apple I have become increasingly enamored by it. I was born in a suburb of Philadelphia, and Philly is unique in it’s own way, but it was always kind of there, and understandable.

Untitled 9611, New York City, 2016

New York on the other hand is mind-boggling. Eight and a half million people living on 300 square miles. There are 27,000 people every square mile. Living on an island closer to New Jersey than the rest of its namesake state.

Untitled 1453, New York City, 2015

But by far the most intriguing marvel in New York City (to me) is the Rapid Transit System; better known as the subway. The New York City subway system had more than 1.7 billion rides in 2015. Yet only ranking 7th in the world’s rapid transit systems in ridership. The entire fleet traveled over 361 million miles on nearly 850 miles of track collectively last year. As a reference; our sun is 92 million miles away.

Untitled 9084, New York City, 2015

I don’t get far in the subway without photographing. The visually drab environment in these images only perpetuate what the other senses endure when in these corridors. The constant clapping of shoes and murmuring amongst riders echoing off the tiled walls, the screeching of trains on tracks above and below as you walk deeper into the depths of these underground tunnels, the palpable exhaust filled air only made more humid by the hundreds of new yorkers crammed on the platform with you as they sweat out the woes of their workday on their rush hour commute.

Untitled 2110, New York City, 2016

And then sometimes you turn a corner and you find yourself alone. It doesn’t happen often and it doesn’t last long, but I always seem to notice when it does happen. With 27,000 people every square mile it makes sense as to why these moments are rare.

Untitled 9119, New York City, 2015

The subway is the backbone of New York. It’s been in use for over 100 years and it’s arguably the easiest, most affordable, and most efficient method of transportation inside the city. The already gridlocked streets above would be pushed to an exacerbating level if the subway were to disappear. Personally, I don’t think my fascination with it will ever cease. The increase in ridership over the last decade shows that New York is relying on it more than ever, a trend that will mostly likely continue.

phil cifone

is a photographer and Linux enthusiast focused on digital archival storage. Located in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.