2,500 decommissioned train cars became artificial reefs in the atlantic ocean
 

2,500 decommissioned train cars became artificial reefs in the atlantic ocean

between 2001 and 2010, MTA new york city transit deployed 2,580 train cars to underwater locations off the eastern seaboard, from new jersey to georgia: 1,269 carbon steel redbirds, 1,311 stainless steel brightliners. trashing this much metal costs about 30 million dollars. for a fraction of that price, a reefing program saw the cars repurposed into artificial coral reef habitats.

subway reef
weeks 297, 2008 (above); the end, 2008 (main image) | photos by stephen mallon

 

 

by 2008, photographer stephen mallon learned of the cars and for two years after, documented their journey. from massive metal transits to toys on cranes to sea-floor homes, mallon’s photographs tell the stories of these cars. opening march 20th at the new york transit museum’s grand central gallery, ‘sea train: subway reef photos by stephen mallon’ features nineteen large-format photographs, symbols of city life shrunken in scale against the vastness of the atlantic.

subway reef
mind the gap, 2008 | photo by stephen mallon

 

 

sea train: subway reef photos by stephen mallon is a free exhibit at new york transit museum’s gallery annex & store in grand central. every subway car has a story, many stories, too many to count and too low brow to comment on, but these cars, mallon reminds us, are capable of much more. in areas of the ocean floor that were once barren deserts, the cars created a flourishing new habitat for varied sea life. sea bass, tuna, mackerel, flounder, blue mussels, sponges, barnacle, and coral have new homes.

subway reef
the end, 2008 | photo by stephen mallon

 

 

‘stephen mallon sees these familiar subway cars and highlights the beauty of their design, the patina of their metal bodies, and the intricacies of their engineering,’ says amy hausmann, the museum’s senior curator and deputy director for collections and exhibitions. his work is abstract in many instances, and it is only when we see these stripped-down machines juxtaposed against the sweep of the atlantic ccean that we understand he is celebrating both their past and their future as a new home to thriving marine life.’

subway reef
abbey road, 2008 | photo by stephen mallon

 

 

on earth day 2010 — after placing 2,580 obsolete subway cars on ocean reef sites — the subway reefing project came to a close. while the program proved cost-effective for decommissioning large fleets all at once, it may not be as efficient going forward given new york city transit’s current standard of decommissioning only a few cars at a time.


transfer, 2009 | photo by stephen mallon


redbird reefing, 2001 | courtesy of the new york transit museum


redbird reefing, 2001 | courtesy of the new york transit museum

subway reef
redbird reef | photo by robert martore, courtesy of south carolina department of natural resources

subway reef
redbird reef | photo by robert martore, courtesy of south carolina department of natural resources

subway reef
redbird reef, photo by robert martore, courtesy of south carolina department of natural resources

 

 

project info:

 

sea train: subway reef photos by stephen mallon

when: march 20 – june 16, 2019
where: new york transit museum gallery & store at grand central terminal
admission: FREE

  • I disagree.
    For me this is typically greenwashing.
    How to use a pretending ecological goal to throw garbage to the ocean.
    This is not recycling.

    Phil says:

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