By Josh Saunders
A Subway train has been transformed from a transporter to an underwater sea life paradise by becoming an artificial reef.
Photographer Stephen Mallon captured workers stripping and repurposing some of the train carriages – typically used to carry millions of New Yorkers and visitors.
Between 2001 and 2010, MTA New York City Transit deployed more than 2,500 unused trains to the sea-bed off the coasts of New Jersey, Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, South Carolina and Georgia.
They cleaned-out Subway shells have since turned into flourishing new habitats for a variety of sea life including sea bass, tuna, mackerel, flounder, blue mussels, sponges, barnacles and coral.
Stephen said: “Sea Train is the largest show of my career and I am thrilled beyond words to be working with the New York Transit Museum.
“In organising this exhibit, we chose an intimate selection to provide a fresh look at one of my all-time favorite projects.”
After learning of the project in 2008, Stephen spent two years documenting the clean up and prep by the New York teams.
His work – much of it unseen by the public – has been unveiled at the New York Transit Museum’s Grand Central Gallery and entitled: ‘Sea Train: Subway Reef Photos’
It documents multicoloured cranes dropping the iconic Subway carts off large barges into the ocean ‘like toy trains’.
The reefing programme spurred the creation of miles of artificial reefs from New Jersey to Georgia, but also avoided disposal costs of $30 million USD (£22.8 million).
On Earth Day 2010, the project came to an end having placed 2,580 obsolete subway cars in sites.
The exhibition which opened this week (March 20) will be on show at the Grand Central Terminal of New York Transit Museum until June 16.
Amy Hausmann, the Museum’s Senior Curator and Deputy Director for Collections and Exhibitions said: “Stephen Mallon sees these familiar subway cars and highlights the beauty of their design, the patina of their metal bodies, and the intricacies of their engineering.
“His work is abstract in many instances, and it is only when we see these stripped-down machines juxtaposed against the sweep of the Atlantic Ocean that we understand he is celebrating both their past and their future as a new home to thriving marine life.”
The New York Transit Museum has been devoted to urban public transportation history since its launch over 40 years ago.
For more information visit: www.nytransitmuseum.org/exhibits