New York City has developed a special way to get rid of broken-down subway cars…


“Usually, dumping metal into the ocean is a bad thing, but for once throwing disused items into the sea is working out for the greater good.

Over 2,500 New York subway cars have been used to create an underwater reef for crustaceans and fish in the Atlantic.
Over a period of three years, photographer Stephen Mallon of the Front Room Gallery captured images of the carriages being put in place, and his photos now are being shown in a solo exhibition in New York…
Once the subway cars had been decommissioned, they were cleaned and every part of them that could be removed — seats, straps and wheels — was recycled or sold. Then the carriages were stacked onto a barge, which transported them to the dropping point…
‘They are still three dimensional, and provide thousands and thousands of square feet of hard surface for invertebrates to live on, some of which, such as blue mussels, could not live on the sand bottom that is naturally there.'”

Five years after deployment.


Ten years after deployment.

-By Phoebe Parke, CNN


However, artificial reefs have not always turned out well for conservation… The Osborne Tire Reef, Florida


“In the 1960s, before recycling caught on, used tires were piling up at an alarming rate. Illegal dumps arose in rural areas. Some caught fire. Many became spawning grounds for mosquitoes.

Meanwhile, fishing captains were looking for materials to build artificial reefs – structures that would attract fish and other marine life by providing hiding places and hard surfaces. Tire reefs appeared to be the answer. Hoping to establish better fish habitat, Florida, Texas, Virginia, North Carolina and several other states dumped millions of used tires into the ocean.


So in the early 1970s, a group of fishermen decided to create a reef of tires off Hugh Taylor Birch State Park. Suggesting to enlarge the reef using old discarded tires as a way to dispose of them, but also to lure more game fish to the area, Broward Artificial Reef Inc. (BARINC) put forward the proposition and Broward County endorsed the project, as did Fort Lauderdale and various state and federal agencies. Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co. agreed to provide equipment…


The project ultimately failed, and the “reef” has come to be considered an environmental disaster. It was speculated that corals would attach and grow on the tires, but it is evidently clear today that this has hardly happened. One reason that this never materialized has been that the tires were too mobile, shifting around if not completely migrating. Many of the tires were originally tied together with nylon or steel clips or bands, while a lot of tires simply were dumped as loose entities. Those that were tied together suffered from ties corroding away or breaking essentially resulting in all tires more or less being loose and mobile.

This mobility essentially destroyed whatever growth had attached to the tires and prevented any new formation and growth of organisms.


Storms and hurricanes frequent the area every year and whenever they come, there’s great risk of tires being shifted around and migrating even more. In 1995, Hurricane Opal spread over 1,000 of the tires onto the Florida Panhandle, west of Pensacola; and in 1998, Hurricane Bonnie deposited thousands of the tires onto North Carolina beaches thus not confining the problem to the Osborne Reef area.

What was meant to do good for nature is causing more harm.”

-By Project Baseline


One thought on “New York City has developed a special way to get rid of broken-down subway cars…

  1. Pingback: 3D Printing Technology May Aid in Reef Recovery… | Blue Heart of the Planet

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