Monday, January 14, 2013


"Miss Subways"

"Beauty pageants promote the fantasy of the ideal woman. But for 35 years, one contest in New York City celebrated the everyday working girl.

Each month starting in 1941, a young woman was elected “Miss Subways,” and her face gazed down on transit riders as they rode through the city. Her photo was accompanied by a short bio describing her hopes, dreams and aspirations. The public got to choose the winners – so Miss Subway represented the perfect New York miss."

Why isn't this still a thing? The producers at Radio Diaries bring us the story, below, or you can listen on their website. And who doesn't love a slideshow?

46 Comments / Post A Comment


"Plugging for B.A. but would settle for M.R.S."

Settle is right, sister!


@RNL I couldn't help but say "Oh, for crying out loud..."

Lisa Frank

@RNL This article has a little more information on her. Seems like she got the BA before the MRS.

RK Fire

@Lisa Frank I see that her eyebrows have remained awesome for over 60 years!

ETA: Oh god, her nose reminds me a bit of my mother's, what is this, my mother isn't a white lady.

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@yrouttasight I totally read your comment in my grandmother's Brooklyn accent.


Beauty pageants promote the fantasy of the ideal woman. But for 35 years, one contest in New York City celebrated the everyday working girl.@k


So that's where "Miss Turnstiles" in "On the Town" came from. :)


@Lu2 Yeah, I don't know about Miss Subways. She could tempt a soldier into spending his whole shore leave looking for her!


@Megoon SAILOR! ;-) But I agree, that's some doll!


@Lu2 Haha, yes, sailor, my bad.

saul "the bear" berenson

@Lu2 Totally. Vera Ellen's performances is so charmingly strange in that movie. Her way of playing lying is to slowly turn her head away from Gene Kelly, even as she slowly, slowly talks to him. "I do have many... social.. engagements..." On The Town, you so crazy.


I want Enid's hair so badly.


She looks eerily like my grandmother.


Um, all these "average girls" are flat-out gorgeous.


@SuperGogo - Sometimes I look at my grandparents photos and want to die. My grandfathe was like, a hood from Yonkers, one of 10 irish-catholic boys, and a complete hooligan. All of the photos of him and his hooligan friends and the girls they were hanging out with look like some kind of movie, it is unbelievable.


@SuperGogo I know! That picture of Enid on her roof is stunning.

fondue with cheddar

Peggy Burns' cheekbones!


@fondue with cheddar Thelma Porter's dimples!

fondue with cheddar

@yrouttasight I have those dimples! But they look much better on her.

Actually, the more I look at her the more I'm realizing that she looks lot like me 20 years and 40 pounds ago. It's freaking me out a little bit.


Is anyone else getting something automatically downloaded to their computer every time they open this article (or the Hairpin main page)? It's getting a little frustrating. (For what it's worth, I'm running Chrome, v. 24.0.1312.52 m.)

fondue with cheddar

@area@twitter YES. I'm running Chrome as well, on Mac. It's not happening in Safari.

RK Fire

@fondue with cheddar Ditto, Emby just asked about it too on the most recent post. I guess I could use IE but.. I don't want to.

fondue with cheddar

@RK Fire The question then becomes: Which is greater, your love for The Hairpin or your hate for IE? :(

RK Fire

@fondue with cheddar I'm leaving work in 20 minutes so I'm trying to wait it out..

fondue with cheddar

@RK Fire It appears to be fixed!

RK Fire

@fondue with cheddar My browser automatically downloaded the same thing when I opened up this page.

fondue with cheddar

@RK Fire Shit, it is for mine now, too. When I made that last comment I reloaded twice and nothing. Now it's back. Ah well, I'm leaving in a few minutes, too. Hopefully they'll be able to work it out by the morning.

Kate Kane

@area@twitter Still happening for me at 7pm EST! (I'm using Firefox)

fondue with cheddar

Is anyone else amused by the fact that a post about Miss Subway is followed by an Awl post about another sandwich shop?

Or the fact that the sandwich shop is called "Pret A Manger" and this post features a woman named Porter?


As a matter of fact, this did inspire City Reliquary to hold a "Miss G Train" competition some years back. My friend competed with a performance of "It's Not Easy Being Green" to the accompaniment of her beau, whom she swore was New York City's second finest jazz vibrophonist. I made her promise to stump for above-ground transfers from Fulton to Atlantic/Pacific.


Can we have a "Get this Look: Miss Subways edition"?Pleaaaaassseeeee??


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