From our time writing about the subway system at Untapped Cities, we’ve come to know some of the real transit buffs in New York City. The community is a passionate one, always ready to provide new, fascinating information to our readers, and correct inaccuracies on Wikipedia. Now, transit aficionados can take things one step further, by decorating their home in color palettes inspired by the NYC Subway. LINE x LINE just finished a successful Kickstarter campaign to create graphic posters and postcards that surface both colors and historical meaning from New York City subway stations.
Founder Karen Ng is a student at the School of Visual Arts, originally fascinated by the decorative tiles on many of the original subway stations. As she tells us, “I found it really interesting that the colorful ceramic decorations featured motifs were symbolic to each station (the Beaver plaques at Astor Place station were in honor of The Astor family and their fortune from trading beaver pelts, the Eagle cartouche bearing the number “14” emblem for the street number where Union Square station sits, and the bas-relief sail boats at South Ferry symbolizing its proximity to the East River).”
Photo by Karen Ng
She’s been leaving stickers at the various subway stations she’s visited for the project, and people that have picked them up say it made them realize the number of colors in the station. As Ng tells us, “This is because the first colors that come to a riders’ mind when they think of the subway are yellow and grey, or the colors of the actual individual lines (Blue for A/C/E or Green for 4/5/6) rather than the color of the station or platform. But when I let them know that the colors are extracted from nameplate mosaics on the platforms, it made much more sense for them. The most popular stickers so far have been Delancey Street and Spring Street.”
Her favorite is the palette from Delancey Street: “I found the lavender blues and purples in the nameplate mosaics to be stunning. If you explore the station a bit, you’ll see that the northbound platform is full of cherry motifs. The cherries are symbolic to what was once James DeLancey’s, colonial governor of NY from 1758 to 1760, cherry orchards and is now where the Delancey station sits.”
Each poster and postcard from LINE x LINE will include the HEX value of each color on the back, a system she’s chosen deliberately instead of Pantone or CMYK, because “so many of us create for the web now,” Ng says.