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Underground Copyright © 2014 Marissa Nicole Pina All Rights Reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form or in any means – by electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise – without prior written permission. Artwork by Marissa Nicole Pina Design by Marissa Nicole Pina Edited by Marissa Nicole Pina and Charlotte Jacobson Text composition by Marissa Nicole Pina Digital transcription by Marissa Nicole Pina Hosted on Printed in the United States of America by Fireball Printing 3237 Amber St Box 3 Floor 5, Philadelphia, PA 19134 Underground was a project created in 2014 by photographer and writer, Marissa Nicole Pina. She produced, designed, printed and published this book in its entirety. This work is inspired by various subway systems around the world.

Marissa Nicole Pina 3


For the tireless employees of SEPTA, those who ride these subway lines daily, my peers, Dr. Edward Trayes, and finally my parents. You all inspire me each and every day.




SEPTA Riders Anonymous

Sights Sounds In Passing

9 13 37






North. South. East. West.

These are the various directions that the Philadelphia subway system can transport its passengers. Most cities have copious lines that run across town any way you could possibly imagine. Not Philadelphia. In Philadelphia, there exists two main lines that travel absolutely perpendicular from each other and intersect in the heart of Center City. You can travel as far north as Fern Rock Transportation Center, as far south as the sports stadiums in South Philadelphia, as far west as Upper Darby or as far east as Penn’s Landing. Some say this is adequate; others disagree. Whatever your stance is, a ride on the subway in Philadelphia is sure to get you where you need to go and always be entertaining. The Broad Street Line and Market-Frankford Line are home to more things than just trains and tunnels. These lines are a complex system that runs under the citizens’ feet everyday. Walking above ground, it is audible when a train passes by underground. While walking down the steps into the tunnels, you can be greeted by anything from a person selling their wares, a man performing with his guitar for money, peeling paint, or even dripping ceilings. Some have made their homes in these tunnels. Others pass quickly through; anxious to get where they’re going. These lines could be home to dangerous situations or even some that will leave you smiling when you come up on the other side. It’s no secret that the subways in Philadelphia are far from beautiful, yet they are more than practical. Southeastern Public Transit Authority (SEPTA) services roughly more than 100,00 people daily on just one line alone, according to SEPTA. Each person comes from a different location, has a different story, and they are all crammed together on a train with separate destinations in mind. Not only am I a photographer, who decided to document their stories, I am one of them.

Race and Vine, Broad Street Line. 10

15th Street, Market-Frankford Line. 11





Mina Lee “

19,Spring Garden

I take the subway everyday to get to class and to get to work. I do commute and I live on 11th and Spring Garden. It can be efficient at times, but I feel that it sucks that so many people don’t feel safe on the subway system. That’s why you see so many cops off and on it. I would say that they should add nighttime hours/times after midnight. I hate that both lines are down after 12:30, I think that they should at least run one every hour after midnight. It seems like it takes more time to take the subway than it does to take any other type of transportation, and I wish that they could somehow improve that, especially with transfers.

broad street line



23, 15th Street Station

I take the subway just about everyday to and from work, to “ and from school. I hate the weekend waits because the trains

run slow on the weekends. I like the way the subway is laid out. It goes exactly from where I am to where I need to go. Pretty lucky with that because thats pretty convient. I think they have it set up pretty good, I don’t think there’s anything I would really change.


m a r k e t-f r a n k f o r d l i n e



Lindsay Vittek


I take the subway everyday to work. Um, I think my favorite thing about the subway is the fact that I can get to work very easily. I live a block away from a station and I work a few blocks away from another. I like that. I never really thought about what I would change. I guess I would change would be having a set schedule for the trains to run. Sometimes they delay them and other times they run every 20 minutes. It’s unpredictable.

broad street line


Lynn Taylor

36, 5th Street Station

I take the subway everyday. Really? There is no favorite part “ about the subway. It just gets me from here to there and that’s it. I would change the price. ”


m a r k e t-f r a n k f o r d l i n e



Steve Pressman

21, City Hall Station

I take the subway basically everyday. My favorite part about SEPTA is that it gets me from point A to point B. Theres nothing really favorite about it. Its just pretty average I’d say. One thing I would change is, I mean, I haven’t really had many horror stories. I would definitely change some structural things. Maybe like easier access or general upkeep.

broad street line



34, 8th Street Station

I take the subway once a month. I take it come to come to city center because I live in West Philly. Okay, you need to sell like, tokens everywhere. I like the token system because its very ecological, but they don’t sell them everywhere. And sometimes they actually just let the door open for you to go in and I don’t think that’s good for them and its not good for the users either. The metro is fast, the trolley is not.


m a r k e t-f r a n k f o r d l i n e



Natreoo and Nasir

12 & 16, 15th Street Station


We take the subway a lot. Very often like everyday. The subway system stinks. It smells bad. And the trains be crowded a lot. It get me to where I need to go faster than walking or taking the bus.


m a r k e t-f r a n k f o r d l i n e


Patrick and Yolanda 30 & 32, City Hall

Hmm, we don’t take the subway very often. Not very often. No, I’m mainly the bus. My least favorite part is the rats. The rats are here. Last time I took the subway I saw a rat crawl out of the garbage over there before they changed it. Yes, they’re around. Yeah, the smell too, but thats not too bad sometimes. Its relaxing though, especially when you come home from a hard day work. And you don’t have any crazy people asking you for money, you’re good.


broad street line



Dante Aliamecki

23, 15th Street Station

I take it often. I like that I’m able to work while I’m on the train and on the road. I like to be able to look out at the scenery and letting my mind travel as well as I am physically and mentally. I would change the smell sometimes.

m a r k e t-f r a n k f o r d l i n e


Brianna Prime

21, Spring Garden

Um, I usually take it Monday, Wednesday, Friday to Center City and back. And then maybe once on the weekend there and back. It’s convenient and it’s cheap which is really nice. I don’t like how dirty it is, but its really convenient and cheap which is nice since I don’t have a car. It’s nice that it connects to the El line, because you can either go North, South, East or West...So it’s really cool that anytime I need to go home or go to the city, I can.


broad street line




64, 8th Street Station

I take it every. day. Well, number one it keeps you out of trouble. Uh. Well I like air condition. The medication I take, makes me sweat. I would like to see cleaner cars and more polite employees. I don’t think they’d hire you unless you had an attitude.

m a r k e t-f r a n k f o r d l i n e





Broad Street Line. 38

City Hall, Broad Street Line. Anonymous


Walnut Locust, Broad Street Line. 40

Walnut Locust, Broad Street Line. Anonymous


15th Street, Market-Frankford Line. 42

52nd Street, Market-Frankford Line. Anonymous


City Hall, Broad Street Line. 44

Market-Frankford Line. Anonymous


City Hall, Broad Street Line. 46

City Hall, Broad Street Line. Anonymous


15th Street, Market-Frankford Line. 48

Broad Street Line. Anonymous


52nd Street, Market-Frankford Line. 50

Broad Street Line. Anonymous





City Hall, Broad Street Line. 54

City Hall, Broad Street Line. sights


Spring Garden, Broad Street Line. 56

Spring Garden, Broad Street Line. sights


Spring Garden, Broad Street Line. 58

Spring Garden, Broad Street Line. sights


15th Street, Market-Frankford Line. 60

15th Street, Market-Frankford Line. sights


Broad Shtreet LIne. 62

Broad Shtreet LIne. sights


2nd Street, Market-Frankford Line. 64

5th Street, Market-Frankford Line. sights


8th Street, Market-Frankford Line. 66

8th Street, Market-Frankford Line. sights


Fairmount, Broad Street Line. 68

Fairmount, Broad Street LIne. sights


City Hall, Broad Street Line. 70

Milbourne, Market-Frankford Line. sights


15th Street, Market-Frankford Line. 72

15th Street, Market-Frankford Line. sights


15th Street, Market-Frankford Line. 74

Free Interchange. sights


SETPA’s new street harassment ad campaign Broad Street Line. 76

SETPA’s new street harassment ad campaign Broad Street Line. sights


Suburban Station “Let the Youth Radiate” mural project. 78

Suburban Station “Let the Youth Radiate” mural project. sights


Suburban Station. 80

Suburban Station. sights


A Love Note to Phiadelphia

A series of murals proclaim their love for the city and its residents throughout the Market Frankford Line. Ride westbound on the Market-Frankford line past 45th Street and one will instantly notice something different about the next set of streets. A series of murals dance past riders up until 63rd Street and have been captivating riders since 2010.

was painted by Powers, and is left up to the viewer to decide who is being spoken of. To some, it is from the residents of West Philly to their own neighbourhood; to others it is a note from a man to a woman, or even from an artist to his hometown.

Some of the murals are playful and open to interpretation Four years ago, artist, Steve Powers was commissioned by the city such as, “I want you like coffee, I of Philadelphia Mural Arts program need you like juice, I won’t put you on the side like bacon, you can have to paint these colourful murals. Turning the El into a moving gallery, me over easy.” These playful murals mix in with others that state, “Open it captures attention at every stop. Each different painting holds its own your eyes, I see the sunrise.” Powers meaning that is in turn a sort of love incorporated lively colors and playful words to entice viewers to crane their letter. necks to read each mural as the El zooms past. The Philadelphia Mural Arts program was started as an When the murals were first anti-graffiti initiative. The program painted, they were very visible from spreads art throughout the city on the El and their bright colors caught walls near open lots, abandoned attention in every train. Today, these buildings or even schools. murals are a bit worn down. Some are hidden by built up neighborhoods Powers is originally from West Philadelphia, although he now that weren’t there four years ago. Powers originally agreed to do the lives in New York. Each love note


project because he stated he wanted to, “put something on these rooftops that people would care about.” As time passes, its clear that it’s getting harder to see these works of art and one might argue its because the residents stopped caring. Whatever the reason may be, Love Letters still dazzle new El riders daily. Those who never knew they existed catch themselves gasping and quickly whipping their heads around to read the message that may have once been shared privately. Seeing these murals leaves riders feeling the love spread throughout the City of Brotherly Love.

All photos were taken during the month of April 2014.

“I Had A Nice Dream About Us.”



“Drugs, Guns, Love. The choice is Yours.”


“Co-Sign On Our Lifetime.”



“High Five.”


“I’ll Shape Up.”



“I Wanna Call You Names: Baby, Lover, Mama, Friend.”


“I’ll Stay For Life.”



“Miss You...


...Too Often Not To Love You.”






Incoming, 52nd Street. 94

Outgoing, 52nd Street. Sounds


The Drummer, Suburban Station. 96

The Perfume Vendor, Broad Street Line. Sounds


The Lecturer, 15th Street. 98

Whoosh, Market-Frankford Line. Sounds


Rolling Out, 30th Street Station. 100

More Please, 30th Street Station. Sounds


The Fighter, 15th Street. 102

Playtime, 15th Street. Sounds


The CD Vendor, Broad Street Line. 104

Asking for Directions, 30th Street. Sounds


Prayer Incense Vendor, Broad Street Line. 106

Prayer Incense Vendors, Broad Street Line, Sounds


The Hitcher, 3oth Street. 108

Only $35, 30th Street. Sounds


Dancing through the train

Damon Holly, founder of Project Positive talks about why they took their performance to the train and what happened after that.

If you were to get on a train on

the Broad Street Line anytime in the last few years, you probably saw the fleeting performance by 2 or 3 men. They were usually flipping or break dancing up and down the aisle, dazzling the passengers who had become their makeshift audience. All of a sudden, the group stopped making appearances and the riders of SEPTA were left wondering what had happened to their favorite performers?

based out of Philadelphia. I started in 2010. It’s basically an organization that uses hip hop to inspire and engage the youth in our community. So when did you start doing subway performances? I’ve been preforming on the streets more so for the better part of 10 years now. I learned from my brother by the name of CJ, they call him Tai Lan, he’s a hip hop acrobat/ contortionist out of new york. He taught me the art of street performing. It didn’t just start in the trains; we also do it in the street and local parks. The train was mostly an alternative because it was so cold during the winter months; we’d usually resort to performing on the train when it was cold.

safety issues and concerns that SEPTA can have with us doing it. I don’t think anybody has gotten hurt, as far as people watching the show. If anybody gets hurt, it’ll probably be us before anyone else.

What exactly could you say happened the day you got arrested that was different from any other day? The day I got arrested? I actually got arrested and my charges were disorderly conduct and defiant trespassing. I was not dancing that particular time I got stopped. At the young age of 25, Damon I believe the officer that stopped me had Brinksworth Holly and his friends joined stopped me before for performing on the together in 2010 to form the group Project streets and on the train. But at this point I Positive. This dance group works hard don’t want to say too deep and too much to not only bring their art to the streets about the case because its still an open but empower and inspire young kids in case at this time. I think there was a big the Philadelphia community. This is the miscommunication and that’s what led interview I conducted with Holly about the How did you like performing on the train? to SEPTA not only police but authority It was actually very different from a lot of day he got arrested on a SEPTA train, the photos are from a dance workshop he runs the other performances that we do because actually speaking out on our behalf saying what we were doing was kind of you know we actually perform on a moving train. A in West Philadelphia. lot of us are professionals and we work with unsafe and threatening the passengers, which is understandable but all we do What exactly is Project Positive in your own professional dance companies around the city…we’re all professionals at what we do. I is positive things. We actually take the words? would say I could understand there’s a lot of funding and donations we get from all the Project Positive is a youth organization 110

performances we do on the train and utilize them to different workshops in West Philly and rec centers, really just to push the movement of Project Positive.

been getting complaints, through our social networks, phone calls, and radio interviews. So I do appreciate all the love and support I’ve been getting through this city.

Would you ever go back to performing on the train? Not at the moment, like I said its an open case at this time so I want to wait until that gets out the way. I would like to talk to some SEPTA officials maybe work out some type of way where they can expand their permit policies on where street performers can perform. Maybe not just open it up to singers and musicians, open it up to acrobats, drummers, dancers How often do you take the subway and what do you like most about it? I take the subway everyday. I think it’s a great form of transportation, great way to get around, great way to save gas. I think every great business has their policies in place, you know, for things. Some people can stay in line and things can be safe. Like I said I can understand some of the complaints I’ve been getting as far as from SEPTA but I’ve been getting more good comments than I have Sounds















In Passing



conclusion It’s been three years that I’ve lived in Philadelphia. Three years worth of riding up and down the Broad Street Line because I’ve never moved far away from the Susquehanna-Dauphin stop. I’ve taken the subway to Kensington, South Philly, Rittenhouse and Old City, just to name a few. Each ride is similar, but never quite the same. This is why I chose to visually represent mine, and other’s, view of the subway in Philly. Usually, like many others, I walk down the steps pay the fare, which is now $2.25, or if I’m lucky I’ll have a token that day. Half of the time I’ve just made the train and I run through the turnstile and jump through the doors just as the announcement states, “Doors Closing.” The other half of the time, I’ve missed the train and I’m left idly pacing the platform waiting for the next one. What happens between this and arriving at my stop is always different. Some days, you’ll see a variety of people. Some young, some old, some visiting, most locals. All different races, genders and backgrounds are present on these trains. Almost everyone is traveling from point A to point B. Some of them however are trying to make a living. I’ve always been fascinated and sometimes even moved when a man, woman, or child walks up and down the aisle of the train selling, asking for money or even performing. There are days you see a man hold the door open for someone running to catch the train. Sometimes you see a Good Samaritan pausing in their day to give directions to those who may be lost underground. Alternatively, you can spot those who enjoy the monotony of riding the train with a good book or some music. Together, we all make up the city of Philadelphia. We live in the second largest city on the East coast and together we all experience public transportation. SEPTA might not be the prettiest way to get around the city, but it gets the job done. As SEPTA makes strides towards bringing our system up to date, we wait with baited breath for change as we plop our tokens into the turnstiles, enter the cars, sit down and get whisked away from wherever we live.


Marissa Nicole Pina 20, Photographer

I ride the subway multiple times a week. Sometimes multiple times a day. I used to take it more when I didn’t have my car in the city. My favorite part of the subway is people watching. I love to sit back in my seat, throw my headphones in and watch the way people interact with each other. This city is unique in the way people actually not only look at each other on the train, but they speak to each other every once in a while. If I could change anything about the subways in Philly, well, I’d change a lot. I wish they ran later than 12:30, I wish there were more lines, I wish there was a metro card instead of tokens and I wish they would clean the tunnels more. I live close to the Broad Street Line, and even though there’s plenty I don’t like about the subway, I am grateful I can hop on and off so easily.


m a r k e t-f r a n k f o r d l i n e



Inspired by the two most supportive people in my life..

My sun and my moon, my guiding lights. You two are the reason I am who I am today. You both instilled my love for the city and its inhabitants from a young age. As a pair, you push me to reach my full potentional and have allowed me to grow into the young woman I am today. You both made homes in cities around the world, and I can only hope to do the same. For all of these things and more, I want to say thank you and I love you.





A photo book that explores the people, sights and sounds of the Philadelphia subway system.

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