Friday, November 23, 2012

Subway Lives by Jim Dwyer

First edition of Subway Lives published by Crown Publishers in 1991
Journalist Jim Dwyer's Subway Lives is an amazing series of non-fiction vignettes that revolve around the New York City subway system over a 24 hour span. Dwyer's account follows higher-ups in the Transit Authority, especially David Gunn, who is famous (and infamous) for ending the graffiti pandemic on the subway, a pregnant woman who gives birth on the subway, petty thieves, a mentally challenged teen, traffic control rooms, subway police, a conductor with a strange penchant for singing, and a few of New York's most famous graffiti writers at the time, Reas, JA, Soni, and Slick. Interspersed with a bevy of historical information about the subway system and statistical figures, Dwyer's book is a treasure trove of late 1980's/early 1990's New York City. While this book will obviously appeal more to New York natives or people who have lived here, it is still an interesting social study from a particularly transformative time in the history of the city and it's world renowned subway system. Dwyer himself is a New York City native and covered the subway beat for New York Newsday in the late 1980's before reporting for the Daily News and eventually the New York Times. With excellent book design by June Bennett-Tantillo, Subway Lives remains an artifact of a bygone time in New York City.

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