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  Simon & Garfunkel: Wednesday Morning, 3AM - Album Cover Location

The album cover. (courtesy of Sony Music Entertainment; cover photo: Henry Parker for Columbia Records Photo Studio)

The site of the album cover photo location. The lower subway platform at Fifth Avenue and 53rd Street, New York City. More specifically, the outbound E and F subway lines.

Superimposing the album over over the present day platform...

And now with Paul and Art approximately 47 years ago (the album was released in October 1964).

(courtesy of Sony Music Entertainment; cover photo: Henry Parker)

And now, with the benefit of time travel, the boys still waiting for the last train "Homeward Bound."

(courtesy of Sony Music Entertainment; cover photo: Henry Parker)

Photographing the location.

I didn't really have to discover this location as the location - the subway platform at Fifth Avenue and 53rd Street (which extends to Madison Ave) - is mentioned on several websites on the Internet. But I did want to try to track down the exact location to the extent I could, so one day I took my Metrocard and made a visit to 53rd and Fifth.

Here's where the subway station is located on a map:

I always thought that the cover photo had to do with the name of the album, "Wednesday Morning, 3AM," their debut album from 1964. In effect, that Simon & Garfunkel had just played their last song for the night in a Greenwich Village folk music club, and were heading back "metaphorically" (since they probably lived in the city) to their home borough of Queens at 3:00 AM. Based on that, I couldn't figure out why they would be on this platform, since it's not a logical connection from the subways from the Village.

Later, I found out that there was a song on the album called "Wednesday Morning, 3AM" so the cover shot might have more to do with that song.

Or maybe they just liked subways.

I took my photos around 4:00 PM in the afternoon, by the way, not 3:00 AM, and though I looked, I did not see any "words of the prophets" written on the subway walls on this trip, though I have seen plenty in my time.

Anyway, if you want to go see for yourself, here's a scrollable slide show on how to find the platform if you're in New York City:

When I got to the lower level, in order to match the album shot, my goal was to find a section of the platform that didn't have an opening off to the immediate left, like this...

...that didn't have a sign on the steel column, like this...

...that had a tilted ledge at the bottom where Paul could have put his foot, like this...

...and that had a garbage can nearby, like this. So I chose this spot,and waited till the subway passed by to take my shots.

By the way, I didn't want to break the flow of the pictures walking down to this level, but here's a picture of what the subway platform one level up looks like, and you can see how it's no match for the album cover because the support beams are not near the tracks.

That side of the station looks pretty good but offscreen to the left, the wall seems to have the same paint job as when S&G; were last there, as seen here:

And speaking of writing on the wall. Here's how others knew the photo was taken in this station: the words "5th AV" are on the wall behind Paul and Art, as seen in this shot from the cover of one of the singles off the album.

(courtesy of Sony Music Entertainment; cover photo: Henry Parker)

And, finally, in a related story..."

According to Wikipedia (and in a story that can be found on many websites) "In several concerts, Art Garfunkel related that during the photo session for the album cover, several hundred pictures were taken that were unusable due to the "all-familiar suggestion" on the wall in the background, which inspired the song "A Poem on the Underground Wall." (see: Wikipedia entry for "Wednesday Morning, 3 A.M.")

And that's it, folks... time to "step in...and watch the closing doors!"

(courtesy of Sony Music Entertainment; cover photo: Henry Parker)