Cover image for The subway pictures
The subway pictures
Peter, Peter.
Personal Author:
First edition.
Publication Information:
New York : Random House, [2004]

Physical Description:
xiv, 145 pages : color illustrations ; 24 cm
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
F128.37 .P43 2004 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area
F128.37 .P43 2004 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks

On Order



InThe Subway Pictures,Peter Peter shares his extraordinary images of life on the move, capturing "ordinary" New Yorkers in a remarkable give-and-take with their public surroundings. As Billy Collins writes in his Foreword, "Each of these images is a visual report from underground, the testimony of an optical Virgil bringing us news of the travelers below, momentarily stopped figures in the nonstop shuttling that goes on beneath the concrete skin of the city." In the wake of September 11, Peter found the heart of New York City in the subterranean world through which he rode nearly every day for the next three years. "It was like being carried along on a river of whispering signs and symbols," he writes. "Travelers suspended in contemplation by the steady rhythm of stop-and-go seemed like speechless souls from a different dimension. The scene reshuffled at each stop and every now and then the elements would slip into a visual story." In the seventy-seven candid color pictures culled from the thousands Peter snapped with his basic 3 megapixel camera, the magic is everywhere. Whether we are looking at a very tall man crocheting with incredible concentration, someone flamboyantly stretching on the platform, or a Jackie Collins look-alike applying makeup, the world that comes across is vibrantly human and defiantly unself-conscious. Published to coincide with the 100th anniversary of the opening of the fabled New York City subway system,The Subway Picturesis an unforgettable tribute to the individuality of all those who ride underground in New York, and to every urban American.

Reviews 1

Publisher's Weekly Review

It's not the trains that are featured here, but the people on them. The Czech-born Peter's portraits follow in the tradition of Walker Evans's b&w shots of New York's underground public transit riders in Many Are Called (to be republished this month by Yale), taken in the 1940s with a camera he kept mostly concealed in his coat. Peter put his camera in a bag that he kept by his side, also capturing whoever was sitting across the aisle without their knowledge. (The technique restricted him to shooting when the trains weren't crowded and he was neither blocked by standers nor forced to give up his bag's seat.) Despite being candids, his full-color shots of one or two figures in mostly empty cars are somehow taken with the tacit "I don't care what you do" knowledge of his mostly working-class subjects from New York's panopoly of cultures-most of whom are exhaustedly internally focused, sleeping, reading, kissing or familialy slumping over one another. Former poet laureate Billy Collins in his foreword calls their shared expression "subway face"-"that look of self-absorption, the middle-distance stare that suggests that life has temporarily been suspended," one that, any New Yorker will report, alters only at the greatest shock. (Oct.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved