Colorful tiles and terra cotta in the subway

You have to hand it to the transit officials in charge of designing subway platforms a century ago. They insisted that stations feature colorful ceramic tiles, terra cotta, and mosaics, and that the design elements be unique to each stop.

Today the MTA continues to restore these decorative motifs. They give each station a little bit of enchantment and a glimpse into the past.

Here’s the J for the Jefferson stop on the L train, in Bushwick:


The number 5 on this 50th Street sign for the 1 train harkins back to an Art Deco era:


A long, fat F for Fulton Street, downtown:


The Brooklyn Bridge 6 stop, with its backward B that looks hand-stenciled:


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3 Responses to “Colorful tiles and terra cotta in the subway”

  1. petey Says:

    coincidence! just yesterday my wife was noticing the “Lex” tiles at the BMT lexington ave. station.

  2. CelestialCharms Says:

    I must say that growing up riding on the subway system, these tile gems where the only visual glimmer gleaned from my experiences. Too bad they never really carried on that tradition with the elevated and ground outdoor lines within the NYC transit system.

  3. wildnewyork Says:

    I’m with you on wishing the MTA had continued the tradition on outdoor lines. But it’s at least neat to have them underground. Gives the stations some personality.

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