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Miss Subways: Queens of the underground rediscovered

MTA via New York City Transit Museum/AP

Ellen Hart is featured on a placard that appeared in the New York City subways during March and April of 1959.

Ellen Hart Sturm, third from right, sings at her restaurant, Ellen's Stardust Diner, on Broadway in New York in 2007. Sturm appeared on "Meet Miss Subways" placards in New York during March and April of 1959.

 

NBC New York reports: It was an ad campaign conceived as eye candy to bring attention to other advertisements in New York's transit system. But the "Meet Miss Subways" beauty contest posters of pretty young New York women and their aspirations quickly evolved into a popular and even groundbreaking fixture that ran for 35 years, from 1941 to 1976.

When photographer Fiona Gardner first learned about it she "immediately wanted to know what happened to all the women."

She set out to find out.

The result is "Meet Miss Subways: New York's Beauty Queens 1941-76," an exhibition at the New York Transit Museum running Oct. 23-March 25, and a companion book of the same name. With journalist Amy Zimmer, Gardner tracked down 146 Miss Subways posters and interviewed 41 winners in person. Together they collaborated on the book, with Gardner taking the women's portraits wearing their Miss Subways sashes at home or at work. Continue reading...

 

MTA via New York City Transit Museum/AP

Marcia Kilpatrick is featured in "The Meet Miss Subways" campaign that appeared in the New York City subways from Nov. 1974-April 1975.

Fiona Gardner via AP

Marcia Kilpatrick Hocker on a Midtown Manhattan street in New York in 2009. Hocker appeared on "Meet Miss Subways" placards in New York City during Nov. 1974–April 1975. Hocker married an American diplomat in 1981 and lived for a time in Colombia and New Zealand. She put her talents to use, singing at embassy functions and coaching American children in drama. For the past 11 years, she's been a DJ at Jazz Radio KMHD in Portland, Ore.


MTA via New York City Transit Museum/AP

Maureen Walsh is featured in a "Meet Miss Subway" campaign that appeared in the New York City subways from February to August 1968.

Fiona Gardner via AP

Maureen Walsh Roaldsen poses in 2007 at the appellate court in Brooklyn where she was an attorney. Roaldsen appeared on "Meet Miss Subways" placards in the New York City subways during Feb.–Aug. 1968. She was 23 and working as a secretary at Downstate Medical Center when she won. On weekends, she greeted VIPs and celebrities at the Diamond Club at Shea Stadium. In her 40s she launched a new career as an attorney for the New York State Appellate Court. Full story on NBC New York

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