Photos 19 Aug 2007 08:17 am

Subway Art Photosunday

- As I stepped into the BMT subway station at Prince and Broadway, I was taken by the tile work that had been introduced to this station since I’d last entered it.

In the old days, the elaborate tiles would decoratively detail the name of the station. As a matter of fact, it’s quite extraordinary that there’s such beautiful work throughout the subway system, and even more extraordinary that they still keep it up.

Anyway, throughout this station, the tiles depicted silhouettes of different riders and working personnel. Everything from the student to the station cleaners. I did a little bit of research and found that Janet Zweig, who designed it, says that the frieze, “…celebrates the significance and individuality of the citizens of New York. … It depicts 194 silhouetted people … taken from photographs of New Yorkers in all their variety… arranged as a 1200 foot narrative that contains smaller dramatic narratives within it.” The artwork was installed in 2004. I guess it’s been a while since I’ve been in this station.

While waiting for the N train to arrive, I had to snap some stills.

The brushes this guy carries either makes him a chimney sweep
or a subway cleaner.

Here’s a student off to school. He looks like he’s out of the 1920′s.

This guy’s either going to clean the station or
about to mug this woman searching for her wallet.

Oh, wait. Is that the same guy about to empty the trash can?
The other two 1920′s Yuppies are trying to keep their distance.

Here’s a closeup. They look exhausted and as though they’re arguing.

A closeup of the guy with the trash.

Here are two more shoppers. Looks like they bought a rug.

My train comes into the station, and I can’t photograph them all.

From the window of the train I shot some more of these silhouette people.
Eventually I’ll come back to see who else is there.

5 Responses to “Subway Art Photosunday”

  1. on 21 Aug 2007 at 10:07 pm 1.John said …

    The MTA has done a very nice job at a number of stations on the Broadway line adding little touches to the recreations of the original 1914-18 station designs and ornamental state name tiles (the MTA’s first effort on the same line, back in 1969, involved putting white cinder block-sized tiles mixed with sections of blue or yellow bricks and the station’s name in black helvetica type on white background. I think it’s still there at the Rector St. stop and it defines soulessness).

  2. on 22 Aug 2007 at 8:38 am 2.Michael said …

    Yes, I’ve noticed the great work at many of the stations on this subway line. The graphics at 23rd St and 28th St are particularly interesting. I may shoot them as well (wven though you can probably find images on line.)

  3. on 17 Jan 2008 at 12:05 am 3.JeremyNYC said …

    Interesting…I read two of these images differently from you, though I certainly don’t know. The one you call a schoolboy looks to me like a rasta (hat, beard). And the rug looks to me like a snowboard.

    Anyway, I love this stuff. Thanks for putting up these shots.

  4. on 28 Feb 2008 at 2:58 pm 4.Jethro said …

    Mike, The recent passing of Wm F Buckley made me think about you. You introduced me to three things that I won’t forget in DLI; Buckley, catooning techniques, and Mason Williams. He was an entertaining, intelligent and humorous man; even the democrats will miss him.

  5. on 28 Feb 2008 at 4:50 pm 5.Michael said …

    Hi Jethro; how’re you doing?
    Even though Wm F. Buckley is a thousand miles away from me politically, I have to respect his intelligence and his civility. His extraordinary gift of language was always thrilling for me to listen to. I had a lot of respect for the man. His son is no slouch either.

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