Image: Candy Chan/Project Subway NYC

Candy Chan is the New York commuter you don’t want to be stuck behind on public transit.

“I am always standing in people’s ways,” said Chan in an email to BuzzBuzzHome News.

Well, at least she has a good excuse. No, she’s not directionally challenged — far from it. Chan is the assiduous artist behind Project Subway NYC, a collection of detailed subway cross sections that she creates using a variety of modern and traditional tools. Visiting the station she’s going to draw next is just part of the process.

At first, Chan thought that process would simply involve dropping by a station, snapping some pictures for reference and sketching out what she saw. It wasn’t quite so easy. She quickly discovered Project Subway NYC would take more work than that and has since developed a series of additional steps.

With a neighborhood map in hand, Chan marks off entrances, from streets to turnstiles. She then creates a digital 2D drawing before returning to the site to sketch more, making sure she hasn’t missed anything. After that, she gets back to the computer and models everything in 3D.

“All of these steps kind of go back and forth and back and forth until I get the overall picture,” Chan explains on her website, although she notes the final image is done on computer. Depending on the complexity of a station, a drawing might take Chan anywhere from two days to a couple of weeks.

Speaking to how the idea for Project Subway NYC took shape, Chan says as an architect she’s naturally interested in the way things are built, and that as a subject the NYC Subway is a hard one to ignore. “You can almost never go through an entire dinner conversation without someone complaining about the subway,” she told BuzzBuzzHome News. “So I came up with the idea of doing a project about it.”

So far, Chan has drawn five stations: 59th Street — Columbus Circle, Times Square — 42nd Street (seen above), 34th Street — Herald Square, 23rd Street — Madison Square and 14th Street — Union Square. Prints can be purchased from her online shop.

Recently, she posted a poll to her blog asking readers what subway stations she should tackle next. The result are in: Fulton, Canal, Grand Central, West 4th and Lexington Ave / 59th Street will make up the next round of drawings, somewhat to Chan’s dismay.

“I was secretly hoping Fulton Street wouldn’t win,” admits Chan in the Project Subway NYC blog post. “It will be a HUGE challenge,” she says. No doubt sketching the multi-station complex will present certain logistical challenges (and likely result in more than a few disgruntled commuters).

For someone who’s turned the practice of mapping complex urban spaces into an artform, Chan’s plans for the project’s future are surprisingly unclear at the moment.

She might publish a book. Maybe she’ll develop an app. “Right now it’s all open,” she said.

Check out a selection of Chan’s graphics below:


14th Street — Union Square station. Image: Candy Chan/Project Subway NYC


59th Street — Columbus Circle station. Image: Candy Chan/Project Subway NYC

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