‘Token Art?’: Art in NYC Subway
Online Walking Tour
Royal Oak presents an illustrated tour of New York City’s subway system, where the past and present intertwine seamlessly. Led by architectural historian, Matt Postal, “passengers” do not require a ticket, token, or MetroCard for this ride – just an insatiable curiosity for the artistry and history of subway station design since its inception in 1904. As we delve into the rich tapestry of New York’s iconic subway lines – the IRT, BMT, and IND – we’ll marvel at the enduring legacy of the visionary architects Heins & LaFarge.
Immerse yourself in the story of these remarkable minds, as we explore the landmarked stations adorned with elegant white tiles and captivating mosaic sign panels, as well as the exquisite terracotta and faience plaques, masterfully crafted by celebrated ceramicists like Rockwood Pottery and the Grueby Faience Company. We will explore the influence of Squire J. Vickers, the system’s chief architect for three decades, and the pivotal role he played in propelling the subway’s rapid expansion after 1908, shaping the metropolis we know and love today.
Special attention will be devoted to the current Percent for Art program, which since 1985 has transformed the character of hundreds of stations that now display memorable permanent artworks by Vito Acconici, Xenobia Bailey, Anne Hamilton, William Wegman, and Roy Lichtenstein, as well as dozens of up-and-coming artists. Join us as each subway station becomes a portal to a bygone era, and a canvas for contemporary creativity.