Associate photo producer and photographer Tyler Metcalfe is joining the Millennial Trains Project, in which 25 bright young minds travel from Portland, Oregon, to New York, and share innovative ideas. Follow him on Instagram @tylermetcalfe as he rides across America documenting the project.
The final leg of our journey took us through two of the largest cities in the country—Chicago and New York—and, having just crossed the entirety of the United States, the size of each was put into full perspective. The bustling streets, tall buildings, and extreme crowds of these cities were highlighted in full when compared to our starting points in low-key Portland, the grand mountain ranges of Montana, and the expansive plains of North Dakota. It was a fascinating experience to be able to see cultures on both coasts connected by the gradual, informative experience of the train. The speed at which we traveled and the time spent in each city allowed for a deep enough connection to gain a complete feel for each, yet the visits were connected within a short enough timeframe to allow us to compare each within a relative context.
Our gradual crawl from midsize city to midsize city eventually turned to a launch into the sprawl of the Windy City as we pulled into Chicago’s train station. I tagged along with Nate Kolbeck, whose project throughout the trip involved the investigation of hacker spaces across the country and their implementation of 3-D printers. We made our way to Pumping Station: One, a collaborative workspace that blends technology and art and hosts classes, workspaces, and tools for makers in the community. We then departed Chicago and made a short trip down the Hudson River Valley into New York City, where our group was thrust into a final frenzy of activity. Here, I visited New Lab in the Brooklyn Navy Yard with Sarah Smith (who is investigating the future of food systems in America) and met with Jenna Spevack, a horticulturalist and artist who grows “domestic microfarms” in her apartment and implements these greens into antique furniture installations.
Our group gathered for one last evening together at the Fulton Center WeWork in Manhattan, which provided participants the opportunity to recount highlights of the trip to friends and family before parting ways and bidding a final farewell to the tracks of America’s northern corridor.