New York City’s subway system is famous. Currently, about 3 million people use it everyday (about 1/2 of pre-pandemic levels) — most rushing to catch whatever train will take them where they are headed. It’s likely that much of the art that can be found underground, and I’m not talking about that large rat pulling a piece of pizza down the stairs, is overlooked. If it is noticed, it’s doubtful that the story behind the art is known.
I only ride the subway on occasion and prefer to walk when I’m in NYC so the best use of my time was to hire an expert. A few friends and I spent a few hours riding many of NYC’s subway lines all around Manhattan and Brooklyn. Our guide, showed up with blood on his shirt for some reason and was a bit quirky, but who were we to ask questions of our art expert?
These murals are beautiful and each tells a story. They are remarkably well cared for too. A few of my favorites are shown below.
I love this last one in particular which is in a hallway located under Madison Square Garden. In honor of the circus that used to perform there so, there are a number of circus-themed mosaics. If you are ever wandering around Penn Station, take it slow and smell the roses — wait, nevermind — you don’t want to be smelling too much down there if you can help it — but check out the mosaics, read the plaques when available, and appreciate what most people miss.
Be sure to subscribe to 50 Things, a weekly newsletter about learning and trying new things plus ideas for planning your own list!