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Charles E. Morehouse Signal Learning Center-Signal Training School-MTA-Operations Training-14th Street-A:C:E-Subway Station-NYC-001

You’ve probably noticed the whimsical Tom Otterness Life Underground sculptures while at the 14th Street A/C/E station, but did you notice the MTA Signal Learning School? Heralded by a traffic light that actually changes colors, the official name of the school is the Charles E. Morehouse Signals Learning Center. According to a nearby plaque, Charles “exemplified the commitment to excellence that is the trademark of maintenance of way-signals” from 1953-2002.


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Yesterday a thread came up on Reddit in which the user asked, “I noticed this light at the end of a dead end street. What is the light for?” We thought it would be a perfect Cities 101 topic to talk about traffic signals and what purpose these lights serve. As a few commenters posted, these lamps are an added precaution to signal drivers that the street ends. In dangerous road conditions, such as low visibility, these lights come in handy where typical “Dead End” signs would be hard to see. (more…)

Transportation_SAS_NYC_Bhushan Mondkar_Untapped Cities-003Second Avenue Subway Station Rendering, Image courtesy: MTA 

Imagine an “intelligent” multi layered public transit system seamlessly weaving through New York City and beyond. Imagine walking out of a smart, sustainable subway station adorned by dynamic and captivating artwork and walking to the nearest Citi(car) rack to ride a soft, fluffy car to your office. And no! You don’t have to worry about finding a parking space! You just fold it back into the racks!

This was the Utopian journey that a group of some 50 transit buffs embarked upon during an enthralling discussion ‘Transportation and Second Avenue Subway” led by a visionary set of panelists- Judith Kunoff, Chief Architect, MTA New York City Transit, Sandra Bloodworth, Director, MTA Arts for Transit and Dr. Mitchell Joachim, Co-Founder, Terreform ONE.


Artwork renderings for Second Avenue Subway Stations at 96th Street. Commissioned by MTA Arts for Transit and Urban Design. Image via: Sarah Sze.

Working alongside the MTA architecture team in bringing beauty and inspiration into new Second Avenue Subway line is MTA’s Arts for Transit and Urban Design department, led by artist and curator Sandra Bloodworth. Building on the MTA’s nearly three-decade history of enlivening subway and commuter rail stations with mosaics and sculpture, the agency has commissioned art that accompanies riders from the sidewalk to the platform and helps shape spaces.


Have you ever noticed the nautical maps on every window of the Smith-9th Street subway? In fact, the station which re-opened in April 2013 after a long renovation, has two pieces of nautically influenced art by Alyson Shotz. The nautical charts are from the surrounding neighborhoods of Gowanus and Red Hook and date from 1773 to 1992. A larger scale piece is located at the foot of the escalators. Called Compass Bearings, is a blue mosaic that “riffs on an adapted 1779 nautical map of NY Harbor as seen from the Brooklyn shoreline,” according to MTA Arts for Transit.



Have you ever wondered what’s behind those locked doors in subway stations? Whenever we see an MTA employee going in one, we’re not ashamed to admit that we always peek over their shoulder. Just as mysterious to us are the phone numbers posted on the doors themselves. If we dial the STA scrubber room, will they send a cleaning crew to clean up that spilled latté?  And who would we get if we rang up the Division of RTO? We decided to find out.