Over 2,500 New York subway cars have been used to create an underwater reef for crustaceans and fish in the Atlantic.
Over a period of three years, photographer Stephen Mallon
of the Front Room Gallery
captured images of the carriages being put in place, and his photos now are being shown in a solo exhibition in New York.
"I had read about the subway cars being dropped into the Atlantic, but I thought the project was over," said Mallon. "Then in 2007 I was scouting for another shoot and saw the barges being loaded up."
Once the subway cars had been decommissioned, they were cleaned and every part of them that could be removed -- seats, straps and wheels -- was recycled or sold. Then the carriages were stacked onto a barge, which transported them to the dropping point.
A hydraulic lift picked them up and dropped them one at a time into the ocean about once a month, destined to become a long line of houses for sea life along the coast from Delaware to South Carolina.
"I had never seen anything like this," Mallon said. "And I've been in New York for over 20 years ... there's a sense of vertigo as they drop -- you want to hold on as it falls." The 42-year-old has an ongoing project entitled American Reclamation
that explores the recycling industry in America.
Mallon captured his images from a small boat facing the barge in locations including Delaware, Virginia and South Carolina.
Some cars have also been dropped in Georgia, although not all site locations are disclosed to the public, as some are used for ecological studies.
The project, run by New York's Metropolitan transit authority
, ended in 2010. But the carriages have a new life beneath the sea.
"We've been monitoring the carbon steel subway cars and they are holding up well," said Jeffrey Tinsman, artificial reef program manager at the Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control.