I wrote recently about some of the joys and frustrations of commuting, but I didn’t mention one of my favorite things about the NYC subway system: the art. I was reminded of it when riding the B train from Brooklyn to Manhattan this week. As the train leaves the Dekalb stop, before it crosses the Manhattan Bridge, there is an art piece to the right of the train—an animation given motion by the movement of the train.

At (and in that case, between!) stations throughout the city, there are fun and thoughtful works of art. Spotting them as the train pulls in or as you wait on the platform can make a long commute far more interesting. The first time I noticed the grimy mosaics of steam trains on the Grand Central 4/5/6 platform was magical, even if I did wish they were a bit cleaner.


The more noticeable (and better kept up) art is often part of the Arts for Transit program sponsored by the MTA. Two of my favorites are the mosaics of revelers in the Times Square station, meant to represent the intrepid souls who brave Times Square on New Year’s Eve, and the hats at the 23rd Street stop on the N/R. I also love the metal people sculptures at the 14thStreet/8th Avenue stop, and, of course, the creatures above and below sea and from the past and present at the Museum of Natural History stop.
Looking over the MTA’s Arts for Transit projects makes me want to visit all these stations and look for their works of art—or at least pay better attention to the stations I already visit. Maybe someday I’ll make up a checklist and go on an art scavenger hunt across the city.
In the meantime, what are your favorite pieces of subway art?