Pin It
Jamel Shabazz, City Metro
Jamel Shabazz, Rush Hour, New York City, 1988© Jamel Shabazz, courtesy Galerie Bene Taschen

Jamel Shabazz’s joyful pictures of the New York City subway

The street photographer has been capturing subway life for the past 40 years

Remember the pre-COVID days, when travelling on public transport seemed like an unremarkable act? And the enforced physical proximity of other people on a commute was nothing more than an inconvenience?

Now, more than ever, there’s something especially poignant and joyful about Jamel Shabazz’s newly published collection of archival photographs, depicting New Yorkers happily occupying the shared space of the city subway. “For Shabazz, the subway represents a pathway for adventure and meeting new people. He began his study of the subways crowds in the 1980s and has routinely photographed its activity ever since,” the Bene Taschen Gallery explains. “City Metro showcases his keen eye for capturing the integrity and beauty of the city’s communities and the extent to which the NYC transit system serves as a fundamental component of urban life.”

As a native New Yorker who’s been taking pictures since the mid-1970s, Shabazz is widely recognised as one of the city’s most eminent street photographers. His images document the vast changes the city and its inhabitants have undergone over the past 45 years, engaging with all the happiness, sorrow, and complexities of human experience you encounter on the streets of a metropolis. 

Despite having been taking pictures of the city for so many years, he’s never tired of his subject. The photographer previously told Dazed, “New York City has still maintained its vibrancy and constant flow of energy and magnetism that make it one of the greatest cities in the world.”

City Metro by Jamel Shabazz is published by Galerie Bene Taschen and available now