The sailing ships of the Columbus Circle subway

Whether you consider Christopher Columbus a hero or a villain, there’s one thing we can all hopefully get behind: some circa-1904 artistic images at the Columbus Circle subway station.

Behold the blue, green, and off-white faience plaques depicting the Santa Maria, the largest of the three sailing ships Columbus commanded on his first voyage in search of a shorter route to the Far East, according to this 1979 Landmarks Preservation Committee report.

These restored sailing ship reliefs (the second image dates to 2011, as the restoration was in progress) line the platform of today’s 1 train, one of the original stops on the IRT that opened in 1904.

City subway stops celebrate all kinds of nautical images—like at Fulton Street, where Robert Fulton’s steamboat is immortalized on the platform of the 4 and 5 trains.

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4 Responses to “The sailing ships of the Columbus Circle subway”

  1. David H Lippman Says:

    I always liked those stunning mosaics on the original IRT subway line.

  2. Patti Says:

    So much fascinating stuff
    here, I could (and will!) Spend hours viewing it!

  3. MizScarlettNY Says:

    I’ve always thought they should sell ceramic copies of these mosaics.

  4. ephemeralnewyork Says:

    Thanks Patti! And I agree, I’m captivated by these mosaics. I’d consider buying a well-done reproduction, but I’d love it even more if I stumbled across a bunch of originals on their way to the landfill in some misguided renovation attempt.

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