How the New York Subway looked in the 1980s

Christopher Morris - NYC - Subway 1981 - 15

22-years-old at the time, Christopher Morris was working as an intern at photo agency Black Star and was determined to make something of himself as a photographer. According to the agency, the recently rediscovered photographs “provide a window on a long-gone New York, a metropolis that once pulsed with a very different energy—a frenetic, dangerous tone—than one feels in most of the city’s neighborhoods today. But even back then, as Morris’ pictures attest, Gotham remained an always fascinating and, at times, disarmingly beautiful place.”

About Christopher Morris

Christopher Morris, based in Paris, was born in California in 1958 and began his career as a documentary conflict photographer working almost exclusively for TIME Magazine, where he has been on contract since 1990. He has been credited with redefining political coverage in America during his years working at the White House for TIME Magazine from 2000 till 2009. Simultaneously to his career as a photojournalist, Morris has expanded his work into the fashion world.

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A woman walks through a heavily graffitied subway car, 1981.

Commuters wait for a train at 168th Street station in Manhattan, 1981.
Commuters wait for a train at 168th Street station in Manhattan, 1981.

A commuter reading, 1981.
A commuter reading, 1981

A group of teens pose on the 6 train in the South Bronx, 1981.
A group of teens pose on the 6 train in the South Bronx, 1981

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A young teen tags a D train subway car window in a South Bronx train yard, 1981.

Commuters ascend and descend stairwells during rush hour, 1981.
Commuters ascend and descend stairwells during rush hour, 1981

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A woman waits to board a train pulling into a station, 1981. Graffiti on the outside of subway cars was usually more elaborate than that inside.

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A commuter walks by a poster for the musical Dreamgirls and a Keith Haring chalk drawing, 1981

Members of the Guardian Angels volunteer anti-crime patrolers, 1981.
Members of the Guardian Angels volunteer anti-crime patrolers, 1981.

A man is seen wearing headphones through a subway car window, 1981.

A packed subway car during rush hour, 1981.
A packed subway car during rush hour, 1981

A subway conductor exits the conductor's cabin, 1981.
A subway conductor exits the conductor’s cabin, 1981

A man about to board a subway car, 1981.

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Christopher Morris - NYC - Subway 1981 - 17

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