Posts Tagged ‘Heins & LaFarge’

Rushing by the relics of the Union Square subway

March 26, 2018

The concrete maze that is the Union Square/14th Street subway stop is a patchwork of what was once three subway stations built in 1904, 1918, and 1930.

It doesn’t have a lot of charm, but it does have subway history‚ÄĒespecially in the form of the six crumbling pieces of masonry, tile, and terra cotta all in a line on the mezzanine level that bridges the various train lines.

These are the remnants of the original walls of the 1904 IRT station. Long thought to have been lost to the ages, they were unearthed during a 1997 renovation and then incorporated into a permanent art exhibit the following year.

Next time you’re rushing from the L to the 6, stop and take a look at them, and behold subway history.

“Artist Mary Miss created standalone panels using historic architectural elements recovered during the renovation of the 14th Street/Union Square station complex,” states the always-informative

“The six ’14’ eagles were original elements of the 1904 station construction but most were hidden in disused side platforms along the Contract One IRT route.”

The photo above, from Joseph Brennan’s Abandoned Stations site (originally included in the Board of Rapid Tansit Railroad Commissioners’ year-end report for 1903), shows the eagles against a station wall.

Miss’ urban archeology exhibit includes dozens of other subway remains scattered across the staircases, passageways, and platforms of the station, all of which have the same red border as the subway walls.

These relics, “offer a sense of intimate engagement: to look into one of the framed spaces is as though a secret is being sought and slowly revealed,” states Miss on her website. It’s something to think about next time you’re transferring trains.

[Third Photo: Abandoned Stations by Joseph Brennan]

The lovely ceramic tablets on subway platforms

October 4, 2010

Building the New York City subway was a massive undertaking. Tunnels had to be dug, tracks put down, and electric lines, water mains, and other underground infrastructure dodged.

And then, stations had to be designed. A young pair of architects, George Heins and Christopher LaFarge, were given the job.

Their lovely work still survives. Heins & LaFarge created the arches and vaulted ceilings of early stations like City Hall as well as ornamental touches like garlands and wreaths lining platforms.

They built street kiosks, some of which are still in use today (like at West 72nd Street).¬†And they’re responsible for designing these terra cotta and ceramic name tablets.