5. Tile Artwork

Classic white subway tile is having a moment in interior design, but our focus is on the colorful mosaics that adorn the walls of New York City subway platforms. During the construction of the subway system, many architects and artists were commissioned to design ceramic flourishes for signage. The original intent of the decorative signs was to announce the name of the stop and to help non-English speakers, who couldn’t read the words on signs, orient themselves based on the artwork. Most original Arts and Crafts/Beaux Arts-style ceramic designs were created by Heins & LaFarge (1901–1907) and Squire Vickers (1906–1942).

While many new subway stations, like the World Trade Center Transportation Hub and the Second Ave subway, have a streamlined and modern aesthetic, we are happy that the tradition of showcasing art in the subway is being upheld, and that new stations continue to feature artwork that incorporate the mosaic technique.

If you’re keen on art in the New York City subway, make sure to join us for our tour that focuses entirely on the history behind some of the most stunning works within the system:
Behind-the-Scenes Tour of NYC Subway Art