Made in New York

35mm film transferred to video (black and white, silent), 4 min. The Museum of Modern Art, New York

G.W. Bitzer. Interior N.Y. Subway, 14th street to 42nd Street. 1905

35mm film transferred to video (black and white, silent), 4 min. at 18 fps. The Museum of Modern Art, New York, 1939

Alex Fialho: Uptown, downtown, and across New York City’s five boroughs, trains like these have been taking people where they need to go since 1905.

Curator, Rajendra Roy: It's something that you probably rode on to get here, right? Interior New York Subway was shot seven months after the subway was born.

Alex Fialho: That’s Rajendra Roy. He’s the chief film curator here at MoMA.

Rajendra Roy: A document of a brand new modern marvel a system that would grow to be the largest in the world, but at that time was brand-spanking-new.

And the film itself is kind of a marvel of another new technology, which is the motion picture. So you have the kind of meeting of two technologies underground.

There was real concern, both with the film and in real life, that traveling in those tunnels with all of the steel columns that held up the street above you basically that would make you sick to look at right it would create this strobe effect that that would make people go crazy.

So this was actually a thrill ride for many folks of actually being able to travel this fast underground in the dark.

At the time, it was really like a show-and-tell, like, “Look at this brand spanking new thing that exists in New York,” that, eventually, obviously we associate with all classes in New York. And that kind of egalitarian nature of the New York subway system, I think, is something that's super important, This is literally something that connects all of us.

And one of the things I love the most about this film is that you can literally go downstairs get on the subway and experience it for yourself because it basically hasn't changed in over a hundred years.

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