From 1941-1976, every New York City subway train housed a poster of a “Miss Subway” winner–women, often working class, who were celebrated for their intellectual and professional pursuits as well as their good looks.
A brief description of each woman’s interests and aspirations appeared next to a glamorous headshot. “Enthusiastically enjoys sailing, skiing, Mozart, and Katherine Hepburn,” reads one. “Got Columbia’s M.S. degree. Her articles have appeared in national magazines,” boasts another. The project’s racial politics were relatively progressive as well, featuring black, Asian, and Hispanic women from 1948 on.
Brooklyn-based artist and journalist Amy Zimmer hope to publish Meet Miss Subways, a book of present-day portraits and interviews with 40 former winners, and they’re looking to the internet for help. The portraits themselves are joyous, rich in detail and personal affect, and the interviews will examine “changing role of women in American life, civil rights struggles, and even the subway system itself,” according to the project’s Kickstarter page. There’s 24 days left of funding, and they’ve reached $1,328 of their $13,000 goal so far.