Gregory Berg will be the first to tell you that he's insane. The New York-based photographer and urban spelunker likes climbing tall buildings and sneaking underground to photograph the parts of the subway most people never want to see. These are both crazy things to do. But the photos? They're amazing.
Throughout the city, there are dozens of closed stations and platforms, some of which are decaying extravagantly. (Some open stations are also decaying extravagantly, but that's another story.) Berg likes to explore them. "I find abandoned subway stations on maps, jump into active platforms and walk the live tracks, avoiding the 3rd rail and moving trains," he told Gizmodo in an email. "I live for it."
That third rail is the real crazy part. With 625 volts of electricity pumping through it at any time, a misstep could mean death. Here's Berg standing on the little piece of wood that protects the third rail:
Some might also call that stupid. Berg likes the rush, though. He says he goes down at 3 or 4 in the morning and hopes for the best. "The feeling of being down there is overwhelming. The senses are raised, the awareness is on point, " he said. "Not one mistake can be made because it's very deadly. There have been times where I have been pinned between both third rails while two trains are coming in both directions."
But, again, the pictures he brings back are remarkable. The decay is almost alluring. The colours and textures are that of a dystopian underworld. The mood is undeniably austere.
Berg says that catching the streaks of light from passing trains is his favourite type of shot.
City Hall, with its curved track and vaulted ceilings, is his favourite station. Here are some streaks of light tearing through the abandoned part of the station.
And here's one of Berg's friends by the staircase.
Even outside the tunnels, the subway's infrastructure is a testament to American ingenuity.
And if you think Berg's crazy for sneaking into the subway and standing on the third rail, you should see what he does when he climbs up skyscrapers.