I had to stop and do a re-take when I spotted this little piggy — with wings, even! — on the wall in the stairwell to the downtown 4 or 5 Train at Lexington Avenue and 86th Street. You just never know what you’ll find in the Subway!
Platform Diving consists of seven glass mosaic murals commissioned by the New York Metropolitan Transportation Authority for the Houston Street subway station (at Varick Street) and installed in 1994 on the walls of the northbound and southbound subway platforms of the 1 Train, and in a waiting area by the token booth.
The mosaics depict undersea creatures — turtles, beluga whales, octopi, seals, and a manatee–swimming through the subway tunnels, platforms, and passenger cars. Occasionally, humans observe their movements. The concept behind the choice of imagery was to represent a fanciful, surreal encounter between the world we normally inhabit and the one we might encounter when we descend below the surface.
What’s so crazy is that these murals have been up for nearly 20 years, and I just them for the first time in early September, because I never get off at this stop.
Northern Manhattan’s Washington Heights at 207th Street/ Inwood: Here, the A Train begins its 31 mile journey from NYC through Brooklyn to either Lefferts Boulevard or Far Rockaway in Queens. This is where we spotted this distinctive artwork, specifically designed for the station. On the opposite side of this corridor you’ll find a complimentary message, “At the Start…” Both murals’ mirror mosaic text were created from silk screened silver tiles in 1999 by artist Sheila Levrant de Bretteville. Beautiful.
If you happen to be on the NYC Subway, in transit to the American Museum of Natural History via the C Train, and you are not entirely sure which stop to get off at, don’t even worry about it. You will know when you are at the correct station (81st Street) when you see all kinds of colorful tile mosaic creatures crawling along the walls.
These gorgeous representations of reptiles, fish, insects and other creatures are part of a station-wide mural project (circa 1999) called For Want of a Nail, which also extends onto the stations lower level platform, exit ramp tunnels to the street and on both the uptown and down town stops (all photos in this post were taken on the uptown platform).
The theme of For Want of a Nail relates to the interconnectedness of all living things. Animals depicted in grey shadow (such as the giant tortoise, above) are now extinct while living creatures are depicted in color.
There’s always a lot going on at the Museum of Natural History, and it is very easy to get to. You should plan a summer visit right now!
The above mosaic, featuring The White Rabbit, The Mad Hatter and what looks like Humpty Dumpty (?) is part of The Way Out (1994), an Alice In Wonderland-themed four panel terracotta mosaic mural by artist Liliana Porter that decorates the walls of the 50th Street and Seventh Avenue Station on the One Train.
This gorgeous tile mosaic is part of Artemis, Acrobats, Divas and Dancers by Nancy Spero. Given that this subway train exits at Lincoln Center, New York’s premier arts destination, the standards for subway art are pretty high. Spero’s work does not disappoint, with 22 brilliantly colored glass mosaic panels that line the walls of the station. Imagery of women both real and mystical is meant to honor the world-class opera, ballet and music you can catch at Lincoln Center, as well the artsy vibe that has long characterized the Upper West Side. The Diva, the central icon of opera, appears many times along the walls, leading riders through the station.
Here are a few other tiny mosaics that you may spot along the platform!
Photographed on the 66th Street Lincoln Center Downtown 1 Train Platform.