Transit Art That is Must-See in NYC

 “Sky” by Yoko Ono, photo by MTA Photos
 “Sky” by Yoko Ono, photo by MTA Photos
 “Sky” by Yoko Ono, photo by MTA Photos

In continuing to explore great transit art in some of our favorite metropolitan areas, there is no better place to start than the city with the biggest rapid transit system in the United States. If you haven’t already guessed, we’re talking about New York City.

New Yorkers have been riding and taking in the view from the subway for well over a century with ceramic tile mosaics as some of the earliest works in the underground. Through the Metropolitan Transportation Authority's (MTA) Art for Transit Program, dedicated resources and human capital are employed to build and maintain an ongoing top-notch transportation infrastructure that prioritizes the inclusion of public art.

From the “hidden art” by Bill Brand which you can only see if paying close attention whilst riding the Q train, to the brilliant and vibrant "blooming" mosaics at the Lexington Avenue stop to interactive installations at Herald Square, New York City does transit art like no other.

Random Fun Fact: The ceramic tiles you see used in many modern residential kitchens and bathrooms were developed for use as part of the NYC subways


NYC Subway Art Underground

There are virtually endless opportunities to experience great New York City transit art in subway stations. With 472 MTA stations that serve Manhattan, Queens, the Bronx, and Brooklyn there are hundreds of artists represented within their interiors, including Jean Shin, Willie Birch, Faith Ringgold, and Tom Otterness, just to name a few.Mural by Roy Lichtenstein, Times Square Subway Station, photo by edenpicturesWe’re taking a closer look at one of the more iconic pieces by Roy Lichtenstein, who along with his contemporary Andy Warhol, was known as an early pioneer of pop art. The futuristic Times Square mural which greets subway commuters each rush hour as they ride the rails was commissioned by MTA and fabricated by Lichtenstein in 1994, though it wasn’t installed until 2002. The porcelain enamel on steelwork is fantastically typical of the artist’s style and among the most notable works in the NYC transit system.

Where to find it: Times Square 42nd street station, Midtown Manhattan

Other notable works: Lou Reed and Philip Glass mosaics by Chuck Close; Perfect Strangers by Vik Muniz, made with laminated glass and glass mosaic

Penn Station Installations

The newly renovated Moynihan Train Hall at Penn Station includes fresh works of great transit art for travelers to enjoy. Named after the late Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan, a champion for the station’s restoration, the renovation was intended to inject new life and energy into the transit hub.



The hall features three unique installations including a hand-painted stained-glass adorned ceiling, a series of photographs reflective of the original Penn Station, and “The Hive,” a cool three-dimensional stainless steel urban skyline that is suspended in the main entryway of the building.


Where to find it: 351 West 31st Street, NYC

Also worth checking out: Formerly elevated tracks, the “High Line” is now a cool public park with interesting features reflective of the former railroad spur"Subway Jive" by UGallery artist Janine Etherington

A Repository for Transit History

We don’t want to get too far off track (so to speak), but the New York Transit Museum offers up an intriguing glimpse of transit history and culture through the years. The museum provides an overall deep dive into all things NY transit. Located in a decommissioned subway station in Brooklyn, it is a fascinating interactive and nostalgic experience for art lovers and history buffs alike.

Attractions include nineteen vintage subway cars, and a rotating series of exhibits including one called “Transit Sketches.” Transit Sketches features works by six local artists who sketched a series of subway portraits of their fellow riders while making their daily commutes.

Where to find it: 99 Schermerhorn Street, Downtown Brooklyn"Fall in Central Park, New York" by UGallery artist Suren Nersisyan

We hope this has helped you navigate a plan to experience the exciting transit art in NYC. In the meantime, you can shop UGallery’s selection of original works and check out new art weekly on our website.