Magazine article The New Yorker

Rail Life

Magazine article The New Yorker

Rail Life

Article excerpt

In TRAVEL BY TRAIN (Indiana), Michael E. Zega and John E. Gruber show how the spread of railroads across America coincided with the birth of modern advertising techniques to produce a blizzard of railway posters. Early, wordy efforts based on circus posters gave way to the big pictorial landscapes of the eighteen-nineties. As cars became dominant, graphic designers resorted to an increasingly stylized approach to glamorize the idea of travel itself, a trend that reached its apogee with the posters of streamliner trains of the thirties.

The romance of railways is almost exclusively connected to the steam era. VANISHING STEAM (Abrams) is a record of Eric Langhammer's remarkable quest, begun in the seventies, to photograph "steam locomotives at work in a natural everyday environment" before they disappeared altogether. Langhammer relates with justifiable pride the extreme level of obsession one needs to feel to go and see a train at twenty below zero in Nancha, in northeastern China. …

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