You Win Some You Lose Everything

The New York City Subway opened in 1904 and is one of the world’s oldest transit systems. It holds the crown for having the most stations out of any transit system in the world, at 472 stations in operation. The stations interconnect the boroughs of Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens and the Bronx.
The system contains 850 miles of track. Much of this track is contained not in the stations themselves, but in the tunnels that connect the stations. It is no secret that New York City’s trains hold a heavy weight in graffiti history. And while less pointed to in the history books than the trains themselves, the tunnels that the trains ride through are of no small importance in the history of New York graffiti culture. New York’s tunnel system features graffiti from years ago, a connection to the past in a world underground. 

The tunnel system plays an integral part in the career of JEDI 5, a writer who has painted the system for over 20 years.

“Growing up in New York City you quickly learn the environment is in a constant state flux. There are very few places where the landscape has not changed in over a century. Exploring the tunnels in New York can allow you to feel like you are being transported back in time, to countless bygone eras of the city’s past. Painting, as well as the adrenaline that comes along with graffiti are a huge part of my life, but my other passions are history and anthropology. The tunnels have provided a unique intersection where these different interests have been able to coincide. Exploring, documenting, and painting in such an exciting and untouched place is something that never seems to get old. When you are in the tunnels painting it’s way different than painting on the streets or elevated tracks. The eeriness of the lighting and the still air keep you on your toes the entire time, and then when the train rumbles by for 10 or 15 seconds the whole place feels alive. It’s dope to absorb all the ancient graffiti down there and important to make sure to respect it as well. It’s some of the oldest history we have left…” - JEDI 5