September 21, 2023


How Art Works

A New E-book Revisits the Grime and Pandemonium of the NYC Subway of the ’70s and ’80s — Colossal

2 min read


#New York
#Willy Spiller

July 21, 2023

Grace Ebert

A man with orange pants cradles a radio at the edge of a subway platform

72nd Avenue Station West Facet, New York, 1977. All pictures © Willy Spiller, courtesy of Bildhalle, shared with permission

“It didn’t take Willy Spiller lengthy to grasp that there’s nothing extra New York than its subways, every automotive a sweaty, rattling microcosm of the town itself—a loud, crowded, colourful melting pot the place everyone seems to be thrust into everybody else’s enterprise,” writes Invoice Shapiro within the introduction to Hell on Wheels. Revealed by Bildhalle to coincide with an exhibition by the identical identify, the ebook surveys a group of Spillers’ images from 1977 to 1984, forming a now legendary collection of pictures that seize life on the transfer in one of many world’s largest cities.

On view now on the Amsterdam gallery, Hell on Wheels friends into the graffiti-laden prepare automobiles of the late ’70s. Commuters pack into the tiny cabin throughout rush hour, teenage women nonetheless of their crisp, white college uniforms sprawl throughout empty seats, and a person with cuffed orange trousers cradles a radio as he waits within the 72nd Avenue Station. Spiller, who got here to New York from Zurich in 1977 and shot greater than 2,000 pictures of the subway throughout an infamous time in its historical past, affords a clear-eyed glimpse of a transitory area, the place, for a quick trip from one a part of the town to a different, individuals throughout courses and cultures commingle in a mixture of power, friction, and camaraderie.

Order your copy of Hell on Wheels on the Bidhalle website, the place you may as well discover extra of the collection.


People pack into a crowded subway car

Rush Hour on Lexington IRT, Subway, New York, 1981

Teenage girls sprawl across empty seats on the train

Schoolgirls On the A-Practice to Far Rockaway, New York, 1978

A person hangs off the side of a subway car at Franklin Avenue

Harmful Experience, Subway, New York, 1983

A couple sits next to and older man and younger woman on the train

Lexington Avenue Line, IRT Division of the New York Metropolis Subway, 1979

A woman and man sit next to each other on the train while another woman grasps the hand rails

Jerome Avenue IRT Line, New York, 1980

People wait for a rushing train with a sign that says down town express trains

Downtown Specific 72nd St. Station, Subway, New York, 1977

young people ride a graffiti-laden train

The A prepare to Brighton Seashore Subway, New York, 1977

#New York
#Willy Spiller


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