‘Underground 1966’, Danny Lyon’s Previously Unseen Color Photos of the New York City Subway in the 1960s

MTA Arts & Design, the creative arm of New York City’s Metropolitan Transit Authority, has installed “Underground 1966,” a previously unseen 1960s New York City subway color photo series by legendary photographer Danny Lyon at the Atlantic Avenue-Barclay Center subway stop. The installation will remain on display through the next year.

Lyon returned to New York City in late 1966, when he took his mother’s advice: “If you’re bored, just talk to someone on the subway.” He used a Rolleiflex camera and color transparency film to photograph the subway in Brooklyn. ..The images in “Underground: 1966” have never been publicly exhibited.“Underground: 1966” comprises eight large-scale photographs that show a lone woman standing on the platform; two women bundled up from the elements; a dapper reveler; a lone sailor, and two teenagers waiting on an elevated platform. They evoke a mood and atmosphere in which people were alone with their thoughts as they traveled by subway. Lyon uses the available lighting and creates a moment of quiet and calm that is reminiscent of the work of Edward Hopper and offers a more sympathetic version of earlier Walker Evans photographs of subway riders.

photos by Danny Lyons

Lori Dorn
Lori Dorn

Lori is a Laughing Squid Contributing Editor based in New York City who has been writing blog posts for over a decade. She also enjoys making jewelry, playing guitar, taking photos and mixing craft cocktails.