About this project
Please Make Meet Miss Subways Book possible! This book is being published by Seapoint Press and will be the subject of an important exhibition at the Transit Museum in Brooklyn New York in November 2012. Your contributions will help us to complete the work so this can happen!
Miss Subways is sponsored by the New York Foundation for the Arts and all donations are tax deductible.
What happened to Hunter College student Enid Berkowitz, who was in 1946 “plugging for a B.A, but would settle for an M.R.S.”? Or F.B.I. clerk Eleanor Nash, who was in 1960 “young, beautiful and expert with a rifle”?
New York-based artist Fiona Gardner and journalist Amy Zimmer were determined to find out.
Berkowitz and Nash were two of the nearly 200 women who became Miss
Subways between the contest’s launch in 1941 and its end in 1976. With their pictures and aspirations printed on nearly 9,000 posters throughout the transit
system, they were New York City’s hometown beauty queens. Part collective memoir, part cultural history, "Meet Miss Subways" will be the first book to examine the contest’s significance—both personal and historical .
Gardner first encountered the Miss Subways contest when it was reprised as Ms. Subways in 200X. No records of the contest existed, but a large collection of the posters lived on at Ellen’s Stardust Diner, and working from telling details in the posters, Gardner became something of a sleuth to track down the winners. 40 of them agreed to be photographed and interviewed about where their lives have taken them and whether they’ve lived up to their dreams. The project gives the women a new platform for their perspectives on their beauty queen days and the years in between.
Gardner’s sumptuously colored portraits invite us to ponder the fantasies of youth and the stark realities of growing older. Zimmer’s interviews are an intimate look at the extraordinary moments in ordinary lives. Yet the work bridges more than a simple visual comparison and curiosity between then and now. With the common themes that arrive in the interviews and an introductory essay exploring the social history of the contest, the book offers a lens for
examining the changing role of women in American life, civil rights struggles, and even the subway system itself.
The project, sponsored by the New York Foundation for the Arts, will be the subject of a major exhibition in 2012 at the New York Transit Museum in downtown Brooklyn. The goal is to launch a185-page book printed on 9" x 11.5" sized pages as a companion to the show.
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