PHOTOS: What Happens to New York’s Decommissioned Subway Cars

There comes a time in every New York City subway car’s life when it becomes too smelly for even the smelliest of bums to ride in.┬áThe luckiest of those decommissioned subway cars get to become a part of something called the Artificial Reef Project.

City Metric reports that this ambitious project is dedicated to recycling subway cars into artificial coral reefs off the US’s Atlantic Coast. To facilitate the project, the tourism boards of eastern states purchase the cars in bulk (and we mean bulk) from New York’s transit authority.

They strip them clean of everything that isn’t metal, and loaded onto barges that carry up to 40 of the cars. The barges sail a safe distance away from the coast before a crane simply shoves the subway cars into the sea to meet their final resting place. More than 2,500 cars have been dumped in this way over the last 10 years.

Undersea, the cars encourage new communities to grow as they are colonized by plants and animals alike.

The photos of the process below were taken by photographer Stephen Mallon as part of a photobook centered on the theme of recycling. These photos are part of his “Next Stop Atlantic” collection, a part of his recycling project entitled “American Reclamation.”

subway 2(1)

subway 6



Photos courtesy of City Metric.