Hell On Wheels
The year was 1979, there were over 200 serious crimes reported in the New York subway system each week. At that time New York City subways were a death trap, you pay to get in and hope you make it out to your destination. As the new year rolled around there were already 6 murders reported in the first 2 months. Other subway systems around the world had nothing on New York City’s subway system when it came to crime, filth, graffiti, art and even murder.
Thanks to early Swiss photographer Willy Spiller the New York Subway system was well documented between the years 1977-1984. The curiosity of a Swiss foreigner blown away by the bizarre yet fascinating vibe of the New York City transit system birthed “Hell On Wheels”. H.O.W. is a first-hand look at what it was really like to ride the subways during that valuable time period. I say valuable because outside of the crime, it was a period that brought us some of the most important moments in pop culture. The world’s most infamous graffiti artists, grandfathers of hip-hop music, Warriors “come out and play”, Curtis Sliwa and his neighborhood crime fighter unit the Guardian Angels all are a part of that period.