Most New York City subway stations have some level of artwork in them. The 8th Avenue Subway station’s 14th Street station takes it to another level. There are around 130 small sculptures scattered throughout the multiple levels of subway platforms.
Titled ‘Life Underground’ and designed by artist Tom Otterness in the 1990s, they were initially displayed above ground – eventually being installed in the station in the early 2000s.
They are literally scattered everywhere.
Underneath a gate to make it look like he his trapped.
On the beams above the walkways.
Some of the more popular are the legendary sewer alligators.
Some of his inspirations were that the subways were designed in the 1890s, during the Tammany Hall/Boss Tweed era. This statue at the top of with a money bag head is one of the most popular with the commuters – the artist believes people rub it for good luck.
We spent an hour wandering the station – many shots provided interesting backgrounds.
This couple must be on happy hour.
Many of the statues have some representation of poor versus rich.
Some were hiding under stairs.
One of my favorite, which I found in a couple of places, were two guys attempting to cut down the structural beams.
Some were harder than others to figure out the message.
Waiting on his train.
One final look at another alligator and a number of others. If you find yourself in Manhattan it is well worth the effort to stop by this station.
Most people in the world know about Stonehenge in England. Less known, but still amazingly cool and very popular is Manhattanhenge.
With most of Manhattan built in a grid street system in a general east-west pattern twice a year the sun sets directly down the east-west streets. Because it is not exactly due west it does not occur on the equinox’s, rather slightly different dates. We were fortunate enough to be there for the May event.
We chose to watch the event from Park Avenue and East 34th Street, as it is a wider street and lined with tall buildings. With sunset scheduled for 8:13 PM we arrived around 7:45 to already find people gathering.
While we waited we noticed there was some light fog around the Empire State Building. The fog made some interesting streaks into the sky (which was even more visible to the eye).
As the sun continued to set the crowds grew. Each time the light would change for Park Avenue people would crowd into the street for the view west on 34th Street.
Literally ever minute the view changed.
Eventually the crowds were blocking the street long enough the taxis and other cars would blast their horns to get through – further adding to the atmosphere.
While a few clouds obscured the event it was still amazing.
With a 600mm zoom the views were intense.
When the sun is just right it will also reflect off of the street.
Finally at 8:13 the last of the sun set over the buildings in New Jersey.
Our day ended in Jersey City with a stop at Liberty State Park. As we entered we paid our respects at the 9-11 Memorial. With the late afternoon sun and lack of crowds it was a moving moment to see the names of those who lost their lives that day.
Nearby is the iconic view of lower Manhattan.
The former Jersey City rail station continue to be refurbished.
There were numerous sailboats out in the harbor.
Including a large sailboat for tourists.
The last of the day’s Statue of Liberty cruises was returning.
Later we were treated to a great full moon over Manhattan.
A couple of days in the city with some highlights.
The Staten Island Ferry
The Statue of Liberty
Statue in front of Bowling Green (Customs House)
Madison Square Park in bloom and Met Life Building
Relief on 50 Rockefeller Plaza
By the end of the day I was back in Jersey City and Hoboken, both of which offer great views of Manhattan. This view shows some of the posts from an old pier in Jersey City back across to lower Manhattan. The buildings are lit up from the clouds just beginning to break when the sun was setting.
This view of Midtown from Hoboken across a pier.
A view of the Newport neighborhood with the Hoboken Terminal in the foreground.
The New York Transit Museum, located in downtown Brooklyn, has a great collection of vintage subway cars. This posting documents the change in interiors over the years
Traditionally subway riders have been known as ‘Straphangers’. To todays subway customers this makes no sense since there are a plethora of metal bars to hang onto, but in 1908 they had true straps.
Below are a series of photos of the interiors (hopefully I got the details on the car types correct)
Early 1900s car with rattan seats and wood grab bars. While stylish it would’ve been very hot in the summer, even with the hat chopping paddle fan
The ‘Million Dollar Car’. Built in the 1940s in anticipation of the Second Avenue Subway (which finally opened in 2017).
1930s IND ‘City Car’ with striped rattan seats.
R40 Subway Car from the 1960s – 1970s. While more practical they still had some style.
R38 subway car from the late 1960s
R44 subway car. To be realistic they should’ve left graffiti. By this point they are not nearly as stylish as the earlier ones.
The New York Transit Museum hosted a talk and book signing with Phil Coppolla who for the last 40 years has gone around the subway system sketching the mosaic signs and artwork that is omnipresent throughout the system.
After a film maker showed a 22 minute film on Phil they had a panel discussion.
As we left we passed a great example in a nearby station.
The next day at Grand Central Terminal where the Museum has a store and small gallery. They were featuring Phil’s work, including a number of his original sketch books.
Also included are some of the artwork. Astor Place is named for John Jacob Astor, who was one of America’s first millionaires in the early 1800s. He made his first fortune on furs, hence the beaver sculpture.
One of the original 33rd Street pieces.
Phil had very detailed sketches for each one.
After viewing the exhibit you will find yourself looking at the stations in a different light, actively seeking out the artwork.
The High Line runs for about 1.5 miles across the lower west side of Manhattan. Originally an elevated freight line to get commerce in and out of the industrial and warehouses that once populated the area, it has been transformed into an urban park.
Along much of the path the original rails have been retained and planted with native plants.
A few spots traverse through the original buildings, all of which have been restored.
One of the spur lines that went directly into a building is a ‘garden’. While it may look like weeds to most, they want it to look that way. A tree many grow in Brooklyn but Manhattan has trendy weeds (and not those kind)
There is some art work along the path as well.
Recently it has been extended to the booming area of Hudson Yards.