Being an average New Yorker, and by that I mean one without a silver spoon in her mouth, I take the subway. I’ve written about taking the subway a couple of times now. I’ve written about traveling on the subway, how to get anywhere using the subway map, and apps I think every New Yorker needs. But this time I am writing about three new stations that have opened on the Second Avenue subway line. We haven’t had a new station in our 110-year-old system since last year’s extension of the 7 line going to Hudson Yards and the renovation of the World Trade Center station with the building of the beautiful underground Westfield Mall called the Oculus. It’s all over Instagram, I think I see a shot of it every day. I’m going to visit that station again when I’m not rushing to Newark Airport, I promise.
First was the 96th Street Station
I didn’t go outside the stations because the weather was so bad the day that I visited. But I did take a long walk through to get these shots. I noticed on my visit, that these new stations are the least used in the subway system. They were so empty and quiet, especially because the walls are so thick. It was a different experience from the older stations that I usually use.
The whole station is covered in the one piece of art in that beautiful cobalt blue color and bright white, by Sarah Sze titled, “Blueprint On A Landscape”. I think the artwork looks like swept away paper, but I am probably wrong about that. The station is massive! I wonder if there is an echo? I didn’t get a chance to test that out, it was hard to behave and not shout, “Hello!” with those high ceilings. All of the three stations look very much the same in their architectural look on the inside, the only thing that differentiates them is the art and station signs.
Second Stop Was the 86th Street Station
This station is filled with the art of Chuck Close, I was introduced to his art at the Whitney Museum and thought it is so beautiful. I fell in love with his style right away. The pieces are all portraits and the portraits are made of tiny pieces of tile, 4 x 4-inch tiles, rounded tile mosaics. Some are in color and others are black and white. They are over 6 feet tall and about five feet wide, and because of the amount of space in the stations allows you to get very close and see the detail and walk back far enough to see the full portrait properly.
Last Stop at 72nd Street Station
This station was all done by the artist Vik Muniz, the title of the piece is “Perfect Strangers”, and again it is done all in mosaic tiles. It has a group of people, some well-known mixed in, everyone is waiting for the train to arrive to get to their daily activities. Some passengers are impatient, some are bored, some are tourists, some are children going to play, parents with their children and people on their way to work or coming home. It’s really lovely to stare at all the different expressions on the travelers’ faces and the details of the clothing and hair.
I think that the choice of artists and the design of the stations fit perfectly together. It is like a linear museum that you only have to pay train fare to get entry to. These are the newest, but not the only representation of great art in the New York City Subway system. For more beautiful pieces of art, you can follow the MTA Arts and Design account on Instagram here. Does your city have a lot of public art in the transit system that you appreciate? Tell me about it!
Until our next rendezvous…
37 thoughts on “A Second Avenue Subway Rendezvous”
Being from Indiana I’ve always heard the subway is a good place to become a crime statistic! Had no idea it doubled as a budding art museum! Love reading about some more “underground”….literally NYC treasures from you.
Hi Gary! Thank you for the compliment. There is always something new and beautiful to see. Contrary to movies and rumor, the big city just requires some common sense and isn’t as scary as you were led to believe. ?
You mean nobody turns into vampires after dark or anything?
The freaks come out at night, especially on the weekends. But they’re looking for a club, or the hottest happy hour, not your neck.
We were up there again recently and still haven’t tired of looking at the amazing artwork. We love the diversity directly and indirectly communicated through the selection of artists as well as their individual pieces!
Yes, I noticed and appreciate that fact. The art actually looks like the city it’s in, very diverse and colorful. Maybe, it’s also the artist’s love for the city being reflected in the process as well?
I live in Britain now, but I grew up in New York and still remember when they tore down the Third Avenue El.
None of the subway stops looked anything like this when I was a kid. Gorgeous.
The El must have been beautiful. The new stations are gorgeous. The only problem is that the original ones can’t look like that.
I’m a native New Yorker living in Maine, so this post made me miss my hometown. I took the subway every day for what seems like forever and I miss it…
Maybe you should make a visit when it gets warmer? Maine must be beautiful, especially in Fall and Winter!
Yes, it is quite nice.
Nice art work!
Yes it is beautiful. I love that about our subway system.
Wow! The subway system in NY is impressive! Being in Canada, I have never seen such beautiful subways I was told that it’s the best way to travel in NY even for foreigners because there are assistants to help you with your needs.
Although I wish that all the stations were this modern, they aren’t. The system itself is over 110 years old, but very efficient. The Subway isn’t hard to navigate, there are many apps, subway employees and passengers to help you get around. New Yorkers are actually happy to help and answer questions. My suggestion is to download the map or an app onto your phone before arriving so you’ll feel more confident.
It is the best way to get around because it runs for 24 hours, goes just about every where.
This is good to know Trudy! I plan on inviting NY at least once in my lifetime!
I hope that you do!
These are amazing.. my husband is from NY and we take the subway here and there but this brings a whole other artistic perspective. Thanks for sharing, I’ll be paying closer attention the next time I go! XX Jen
Sometimes you are so busy rushing to your train, that you don’t notice all the pieces around you. So this was a special trip, that I planned so I could slow down.
Las Vegas doesn’t have any public transportation system that would have gorgeous art like the subway in NYC. If anything some of the bus stops have graffiti but it’s just signatures and tags. The photos you took are amazing and I haven’t heard of these artists before but I’m truly in awe of their work. Thanks for sharing this! (:
Single Vegas Girl
The only one that I knew previous to this was Chuck Close from going to the museum. But they are beautiful. Thanks for the compliment about the photos, I’ve been playing with my new camera a lot.
I would be so lost on a subway, we barely have public transportation in Florida. But Wow, the artwork is amazing!
If you were here for one week straight taking the subway, you’d figure it out for sure. My family did the same in about the same time.
Seen this on the community poll, this is a great blog and I’m now following! Going to explore it now!
Thank you so much for your compliments!! I hope that you enjoy what I post.
I really enjoyed this post as I’ve never been on the subway or to New York for that matter. It was interesting and informative!! Thanks so much for the tour!
Thank you, it is a big history lesson when you ride it . I always have questions about all the interesting things I pass on the train.
The subway system is quite amazing—I love how it’s like it’s own museum!!
It is very different from the other stations even though they display art as well. It just felt different somehow. It just seemed more like a gallery that you can visit in Manhattan.
I love the station that has the Alice and Wonderland murals. I cant remember which one…81st street?
That is at 50th street on the number 1 train.
This is a great idea. I really love the ‘perfect strangers’ piece!
I love the detail of their faces.