2. A Permanent Tribute to Aretha Franklin

Aretha Franklin tribute in the subway

In response to Aretha Franklin’s passing in August of 2018, a bunch of New Yorkers took it upon themselves to create tributes to her at Franklin Avenue subway stations in Manhattan and Brooklyn. The DIY memorials, which included signs that read “Respect,” the name “Aretha” spray painted next to “FRANKLIN,” and signs with lyrics from her songs, were removed by the MTA within a day. In their place, the MTA installed black signs with the word “Respect” above every FRANKLIN AVE. tiling inside the station at Fulton Street along the Bedford-Stuyvesant/Crown Heights border in Brooklyn. With a “Respect” sign over every station identifier on both platforms, there are about twelve of the tributes total. There are also large “Respect” signs inside the Franklin Street Station in Manhattan. These signs created a permanent memorial for the legendary singer.

The signs were designed as a partnership between MTA Arts & Design and LeRoy McCarthy of Heterodoxx INC. McCarthy was responsible for the first spray painted tributes at this same station when Franklin’s death was announced. The MTA, via a spokesperson, said in a statement that “We wanted to memorialize the outpouring of love from the community for Aretha Franklin and in consultation with local leaders, we agreed that ‘respect’ was a beautiful tribute and worthy message.”

Extra secret: The particular colored tiling at the Franklin Ave station is specific to the IND line and part of a color-coded system devised by chief architect of the New York City subway system, Squire J. Vickers.