In the 1940s, every New York subway station had a tribute to the month’s Miss Subway, a contest for glamorous young female writers. Each poster had an image of the young beauty queen next to a description of their accomplishments and life dreams. The contest existed from 1941-1976, honoring over 200 brainy beauties.
New York artist Fiona Gardner began researching the competition and soon became obsessed, gathering clues about the ladies’ schools and occupations. Gardner eventually tracked down 40 Miss Subways winners across the country who were willing to be photographed and interviewed. “Meet Miss Subways” will collaborate the untold stories of these part-time beauty queens and who they grew up to become.
Gardner collaborated with journalist Amy Zimmer to create oral histories alongside the visual portraits, revealing the historical significance of the Miss Subways story in terms of women’s rights, racial equality and the evolution of the New York transit system. Far more personal than your average historical exploration, Gardner’s color portraits and retouched original posters showcase the pride and glamour of working New York women. The rich images serve almost as a collective family photo album for the greater tri-state area, providing a rare glimpse into the youthful days of strangers.