New York's Subway: 1970s And Now : The Picture Show The latest Hollywood blockbuster is a remake of the classic 1974 thriller, The Taking of Pelham One Two Three. Denzel Washington and John Travolta are the A-list cast, but the main character is really the New York City subway. The film, a...
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New York's Subway: 1970s And Now

The latest Hollywood blockbuster is a remake of the classic 1974 thriller, The Taking of Pelham One Two Three. Denzel Washington and John Travolta are the A-list cast, but the main character is really the New York City subway. The film, actually based on a 1973 novel, is about a subway car heist. But the subway of 1973 and the subway of today are worlds apart. This raises a question: With all the improvements to the New York transit system over the past few decades, can a modern subterranean thriller be convincing? Listen to the NPR story here.

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At the National Archives, we found photos of the New York subway from the 1970s, when the original film was made. At the time, the city was facing bankruptcy and the graffiti art movement was in its heyday, which gave the transportation system a much more dangerous edge. We also asked Travis Ruse, a contemporary New York photographer, to share some photos from his modern commute series, to give us a now-and-then perspective.

Movie still from The Taking of Pelham 1 2 3, Stephen Vaughan/Sony Pictures hide caption

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Stephen Vaughan/Sony Pictures

Movie still from The Taking of Pelham One Two Three, 1974, United Artists/The Kobal Collection hide caption

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United Artists/The Kobal Collection

You can view more of Travis Ruse's photographs on his photoblog, Express Train. His photos will be on display at the 42nd Street and 6th Avenue station in Manhattan, and at the Atlantic Avenue stop in Brooklyn, from July 1 through the spring of 2010.

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