Whenever I’m using the subway, I’m in a rush. My head is always down – either to gawk at my phone or to avoid eye contact with the creeper in the corner. But when I looked up for a brief moment at 23rd Street last week, I realised that there were hats painted on the walls – and it made me wonder what else I’d been missing.
Tonight I had some time to kill for once, so I decided to inquire further. I had an hour between finishing work and meeting Dylan for Date Night, so decided to take two of the trains I use most frequently and check out the art at the stations.
I took the N local train (that’s the yellow line) from the Canal Street stop by my office and rode seven stops north, getting off at most places along the way to check out the art. Once I reached Times Square, I went back south and jumped on the 6 line (the green one) to Bleecker Street, where Dylan works. Just a mini loop – but doable in an hour, and all for the price of one subway ride ($2.25).
Here’s what I saw:
Next stop – Prince Street:
Then up to 23rd Street (the best one):
Then up to Times Square, which by this time was heaving with people. Thankfully the Lichtenstein work was suspended high above the walkway:
Then I headed back south and stopped at Union Square:
Then down to Astor Place for mosaics:
And finally, one more stop to Bleecker to see an artist whose work I’ve already enjoyed this year:
This was an eye-opener. I use these subway stops regularly and I had never seen any of these pieces before. It was funny looking at people scurrying past Villareals and Lichtensteins when they’ll so readily queue outside MoMA to pay to see one of their exhibits inside.
Some of the art was very tired, but I enjoyed how it’s become part of the subway. The pieces spanned 30 years and had a clear progression towards the abstract – reflecting how the subway is both resilient and modern, as well as reminding us of the number of years that have passed and the millions of feet that have walked its platforms.
Now I want to do every line. Look how many more I have to do!