Germs, oysters, dogs, chickens, worms and humans are some of the species that populate the length of the MTA’s 7 train — affectionately known as the “International Express” to its riders in Manhattan and Queens — a physical, urban transect through New York City’s most diverse range of ecosystems. The 7 line runs from Manhattan’s dense core, under the East River, and through a dispersed mixture of residences and parklands (including Sunnyside Gardens and the 1939 and 1964 World’s Fair grounds), terminating in downtown Flushing, Queens: the nation’s most ethnically diverse community.

Led by the Urban Landscape Lab at Columbia University GSAPP, Safari 7 began in the summer of 2009 as a series of podcasts and cartographic explorations of the complexity, biodiversity, conflicts and potentials of New York’s ecosystems, and of New Yorkers’ relationships the animal life around them. Materials were made available for self-guided tours, or through tours and workshops organized by the Urban Landscape Lab, which imagined subway cars as eco-urban classrooms and invited travelers to act as park rangers in their own city.

Opening in conjunction with the conference “ECOGRAM II: Architecture for a Crowded Planet,” the “Safari 7 Reading Room” at Studio-X brings these subway classrooms to Studio-X through a series of maps, interactive tabletops and curated collections of books, where visitors may learn more about urban nature and transportation infrastructure as means of ecological and community engagement.

“Safari 7 Reading Room” will be on view at Studio-X from October 15-December 31, 2009. The exhibition is generously supported by CeX Computer Exchange and Ito En.

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