Beautiful sailing ships at the South Ferry station

If you’ve ever taken the 1 train to its last, lovely, looping stop at the South Ferry/Whitehall Street station, you’ve probably seen them—15 beautiful terra cotta plaques depicting a sailing ship on the water.


The officials in charge of building the first New York City subway line in 1904 did a lot of things right. Not only did they hire brilliant engineers and planners, but they brought in designers to create inspiring decorative features on platforms.

Ceramic plaques like these were installed in the earliest stations. Each plaque reflects something about the station’s neighborhood or history: a sloop for South Ferry, a beaver at Astor Place, a steamboat at Fulton Street.


South Ferry’s ships might be the most magnificent of all, and it’s one of just a few stations that has a monogram panel with the station’s initials.

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4 Responses to “Beautiful sailing ships at the South Ferry station”

  1. Kaz Says:

    Absolutely lovely! I sometimes miss standing on the platform after a long day at work, eyes roving over the walls to pick out details. Well, except for crushing, exhausted, into a subway car. I don’t miss that at all.

    The City is filled with all sorts of barely noticed small bits of beauty. Thank you so much for putting them in the spotlight!

  2. ephemeralnewyork Says:

    Thank you! This station in particular I love; it has an old New York feel, even though it’s recently been renovated and lots of art and artifacts decorate it.

  3. thegreenockian Says:

    These are fabulous!

  4. All the terra cotta beauty of an early uptown apartment building | Ephemeral New York Says:

    […] the Fulton Street Station downtown depicts Robert Fulton’s steamboat, the Clermont. The South Ferry station also has sailing ship […]

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