Details

Roma’s Barber Shop
1627 Broadway (in the 50th Street 1 train subway entrance)
New York, NY
212-307-1840

I left my office during lunch with my camera thinking I’d shoot some pictures in Times Square. Instead, I ended up getting a haircut.

I was crossing 50th street at Broadway and I saw Roma’s Barber Shop. I snapped some pictures of the outside and then figured I might as well head downstairs for a snip.

The Haircut

A woman asked if I was there for a haircut. They offer shoe shines as well, so it’s not as dumb a question as it seems. I found out later her name was Lia. It was 1pm and there was no wait, so even though it was available in their stack of periodicals, no Playboy magazine for me. I’m not sure how I’d feel reading it in a public place anyway. “Oh, no. Go ahead. I’m looking at tasteful nudes.”

Lia directed me towards the sink. I’m not really accustomed to getting my hair washed before a trim, but I went along with it. I didn’t have a choice. They make a point on a few signs that you have to get your hair washed before getting it cut. Go figure.

After my hair was washed, we moved over to the chair and Lia asked what I wanted. “Short on the sides and a little longer on top.” I have no idea what that actually means or what it’s meant to look like when it’s done, but that’s what I always ask for when I get my hair cut.

While Lia went to work on my head with her electric trimmer thing, Fox News droned on about the marine murder suspect and a missing Nevada woman. A man in his early 20s and a lady friend came in and were waiting for the other stylist to finish up a phone call so he could have his hair fixed. He got his hair cut earlier in the day into some sort of mohawk-ish style and either he or the girl wanted something different. It was tough to say.

Lia was almost finished. I declined the “liquid gel” offer and a few passes with the brush marked the end of the haircut. It cut came to $16. I gave her a twenty dollar bill and that was that.

The Reaction

Here are the before and after photos. I never have any idea of whether my haircuts are good or bad. Actually, I almost always feel like they’re good until I get home and my wife reacts. Here’s what she said tonight:

“It certainly is a haircut. It’s even. It just has no style”

“It’s like she just gave up and the back and said, whoop, this is your new hair line.”

“It’s [the back] concave. It’s not supposed to be concave.”

“It’s not a haircut that you’d have to get another one to fix it.”

There you have it.

Final Thoughts

Next time, I’d like to spend some more time speaking with the stylist/barber about their background and about the shop. Where are they from? How did they get into cutting hair? How long has the shop been open? Those sorts of questions. One of the points of this project for me is to get better at starting up a dialogue with the people I encounter in the world (especially when I have my camera and I’m taking their picture) and I sort of feel like I missed the opportunity this time around.

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Here are the before and after pictures side by side.

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As I mentioned earlier today, I got my first haircut as part of the Subway Barbers project. Here’s some background on what I’m trying to do.

Below are the “after” pictures taken by Toby. Here are the before pictures.

More details on the haircut and the subway barber to come.

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I got my first haircut of the “Subway Barbers” project this afternoon. Let the fun begin!

Toby (the wife) shot these pictures of me on Friday morning (Jan 18th). Unfortunately, I didn’t get around to getting a haircut until this afternoon. My hair didn’t change that much in that time, so these will have to do. I’ll upload the “after” shots and more details on the haircut and the shop later tonight.

While it looks like Toby and I went to a Sears portrait studio to shoot these, that’s actually our living room wall in the background.

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Thanks to Jeremiah at Vanishing New York for the Subway Barbers mention today.

Take a look at a few of the locations I know of already on the subway barbers map. The info on it is a little sketchy, so help me out.

If you know of a good location to add to the list, suggest a subway barber.

I’m in need of a haircut in a few days, so look for my first post of any substance soon.

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I have a new project that I’ll be working on over the coming months/years and I need your help.

I want to get my haircut in every subway barbershop in New York City. I’m going to document each hair cut with some text and photos (maybe even audio) and map them all out.

I think I have enough locations to keep me busy for the next few months, but I’m sure that I’m missing a ton of barbershops.

If you have a free second, can you let me know if you know any? Letting me know the line, station/street and general location within the station would be really helpful.

Just to be clear, these barbershops don’t necessarily have to be behind turnstiles, but they should feel like part of the station. In other words, some place on the street level next to an entrance won’t count in my book.

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