A New York Lawyer Was Once 'Miss Subways'; Book Profiles Other Winners

Video from the Kickstarter campaign.

An upcoming exhibit at the New York Transit Museum and a new book take a look at the “Meet Miss Subways” posters and the women who won a spot on them.

The contest ended in 1976 after a 35-year run, the Associated Press reports. “It was an ad campaign conceived as eye candy to bring attention to other advertisements in New York’s transit system,” the story explains.

Photographer Fiona Gardner set out to find out what happened to the nearly 200 monthly winners after seeing original subway posters from the contest at Ellen’s Stardust Diner run by Ellen Hart Sturm, a 1959 Miss Subways. Gardner collaborated with journalist Amy Zimmer to photograph and interview 41 winners. Their book is called Meet Miss Subways: New York’s Beauty Queens 1941-76, and was published using funds from a Kickstarter campaign.

The winners were initially chosen by a modeling agency and the advertising company, though New York residents were later allowed to send in their postcard votes, according to a story published earlier this month by the Wall Street Journal (sub. req.).

One of the winners was Maureen Walsh Roaldsen, who asserted that she wanted to travel to “Europe four times, no less,” AP says. A secretary at a medical center when she won in 1968, Roaldsen married and traveled, then embarked on a new career in her 40s. She attended Brooklyn Law School and went on to become a lawyer the New York State Appellate Court.

Roaldsen recently retired, the Wall Street Journal says. “It wasn’t a beauty contest, it was a contest for New Yorkers,” she told the newspaper. “Practically everybody rode the subway and they felt it was theirs, and you were part of them.”

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