Industrial Photographer Documents Repurposing Of Subway Cars

Stephen Mallon, Splish, New Jersey-Delaware, 2010, 20 in. x 30 in.

SUMMIT – A well-known photographer’s efforts to document the “retirement” of old New York City subway cars will be on display at the Visual Arts Center of New Jersey in Summit later this month.

“Next Stop Atlantic” is a photographic series by Stephen Mallon documenting the New York City Metropolitan Transit Authority’s recycling program that builds artificial underwater reefs from old subway cars.


Taken over the course of three years along the Eastern seaboard from Delaware to South Carolina, these photographs track the final passage of hundreds of decommissioned subways cars as they make their way to their last stop: the Atlantic Ocean. The photographs dramatically capture the moments before, during, and after these subway cars are dropped into the sea to spend their “retirement” as a new home for undersea life. Next Stop Atlantic opens to the public July 29.

The New York City Transit authority joined the artificial reef building program off the East Coast in 2000. Stripped and decontaminated subway cars were shipped on barges to be dropped into the ocean to build refuge for many species of fish and sea life to colonize the structures.

Commenting on these photographs Mallon notes, “Seeing these massive mechanisms being tossed into the ocean like a toy in the bathtub is a ping in my heart. I have always been attached to these machines, their surreal beauty integrated into their functional engineering. At first I was stunned, the moments of violent recycling, watching the water quickly adapt to its new underwater houses. After being pushed and stacked like a sardine in these subways cars over the past decade, it is nice to see the sardine actually getting one of these as its new steel condo.”

Mallon’s related time-lapse video, “A Bridge Delivered,” chronicling the 136-mile journey of the Willis Avenue Bridge from upstate New York to its final home at 125th Street, will also be on view.

A New York-based industrial photographer, Mallon gained wide recognition for his dramatic series of photographs, “Brace for Impact: The Salvage of Flight 1549,” documenting the salvaging of the US Air flight Captain Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger managed to emergency-land safely in the Hudson River on Jan. 15, 2009.

There will be an opening reception on Friday, July 29 from 6-8 p.m. A closing reception will be held on Friday, Sept. 23 from 6-8 p.m.

The Mitzi and Warren Eisenberg Gallery at the Visual Arts Center of New Jersey, 68 Elm Street, Summit is open Monday –Thursday from 9:30 a.m. – 8 p.m., Friday from 9:30 a.m. – 5 p.m. and Saturday and Sunday from 10 a.m. – 4 p.m. The suggested admission for adults is $5 and $3 for seniors and children. Art Center members are admitted for free.

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