The artistry of the New York City Subway

The New York City Subway system has come a long way since it’s inception in 1904. With over 1.6 billion rides given in 2012, would you believe that New York ranks seventh in the world for busiest (in terms of ridership) rapid transit rail systems? Seoul, Tokyo, Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou (I’ve never even heard of Guangzhou!) and Moscow are the front runners in this category.

Scroll ALL THE WAY down to the bottom for a little musical inspiration as well!

new york city subway art

A beautiful glass ceiling in the entrance to one of the stations.

Here’s the quick and dirty on HOW to ride the rails in New York City. I found THIS WEBSITE to be incredibly helpful about everything I needed to know about the subway system.

-Definitely get a subway map or all will be lost. New Yorkers are actually a lot friendlier the they’re given credit for, so don’t be afraid to ask for help if you need it! I find the system a bit confusing, but like all things it gets easier with practice.

– You can purchase a Metrocard and refill it as needed. I was there for a week and got the weekly one, it’s very good value for your money as I took the subway and bus a lot. YES! You can use it for the bus too!

-Bathrooms. Most subway stations don’t have restrooms. Some of the major stations such as 42nd Street, Port Authority and Coney Island do have bathrooms open to the public, but most have been converted into storage spaces or newsstands. I guess you’ll just have to hold it a bit longer…

-Safety. My advice is to stand far enough back on the platform so that no one can push you onto the tracks. That’s always my #1 fear while waiting for ANY subway train, no matter where in the world I am. It’s probably highly unlikely it would ever happen, but better safe than sorry, right? I’ve watched enough Law & Order to be wary…

new york city subway art

I love the urban blight of the subway. Peeing paint, cracked tiles, rats in the rails. You know, a REAL city!

new york city subway art

Uptown girl!

new york city subway art

The view from the subway station near The Cloisters (way on the other end of Manhattan-think opposite end of Wall Street.)

Ok, now on to the good stuff… the art! The subway stations each have their own personality and flavour. This one in Harlem made me smile. First I love mosaic tile. Second, I love jazz. Third, they’re just so happy and colourful, how could you NOT love them?

new york city subway art

I surprised this girl walking up the steps… sorry!

new york city subway art new york city subway art

And then there were these interesting clay installations behind plexi-glass in another station. They were a little freaky but kind of cool at the same time. Like I said, each station has its own vibe.

new york city subway art new york city subway art

This might have been my favourite. You know I love birds, and this was just so spectacular both in its execution, colors and exemplary style. I wish I could remember which station it was! Next time I’m in New York I’m going to ride the subway and get off at EVERY station to see what they’ve done. That would be a fun challenge to take on! I better try and work in some dining experiences into that somehow…

new york city subway art new york city subway art

new york city subway art

I’ve seen some of the best  buskers in subway stations. The acoustics in there are great, and the musicians have to audition to be able to play in the stations. This guy below was definitely one of the most unique, and he drew quite the crowd. You know you’re good when you can stop people in their tracks while they’re on their morning commute to work. Or they were more likely all tourists but I digress.

And this guy is doing what you’re NOT SUPPOSED to do. Perform in the actual subway car. I was highly entertained, so I didn’t mind. I liked what he was doing with the pole… very… interesting. And I love how totally bored the woman on the left hand side looks.


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