Today I am featuring a guest post by Shania Russell, a senior at Bronx Academy of Letters who is passionate about writing and has a knack for discovering interesting things in the heart of New York City. Since I love street art, I wanted to share her guide on 5 Cool Places to See Some of NYC’s Best Subway Art. This post originally appeared on Epicure & Culture, my friend Jessie Festa’s amazing blog. Jessie is also the owner of Tours and Photo Safaris which brings enthusiastic tourists all over NYC. 

art in the subway

Post by Shania Russell 

Whether you’re a native New Yorker or a tourist looking to explore the wonders of the city, you’ll no doubt find yourself taking the subway. While there are certainly crazy NYC subway stories that’ll make you crave a cab, venturing into New York’s underground can be unforgettable for good reasons, too. This is especially true is you’re into colorful creativity, as art in the subway abounds!

NYC takes its title as one of the world’s art capitals seriously, so expect to come across some of the finest art in the city just taking the subway. Keep your eyes peeled for the various gems you’re sure to come across — especially when it comes to the five installations listed below.

1. Life Underground

Where: 14 St @ Eighth Avenue station

art in the subway

Stop by the 14th St/Eight Avenue station to see Life Underground! Photo via Tom Otterness

This 16-year-old installation, meant to capture “life in New York,” is one of the city’s best pieces of art in the subway. Artist Tom Otterness used over a dozen bronze sculptures to depict everything from the homeless being watched over by police to New York’s famous sewer gators chomping on the head of a wealthy citizen. It’s easy to rush through the city when it comes to a commute, but these playful figures are worth slowing down for.

2. Happy World

Where: Flushing/Main Street

art in the subway

Photo via Ik-Joong Kang.

Flushing is often noted as one of the most diverse neighborhoods in the city — a fact that Ik-Joong Kang made a point of celebrating with this art piece. Happy World uses over two thousand hand-painted ceramic tiles to depict various aspects of the large world Kang saw in Flushing and beyond. This includes many different people, events and views of NYC. With so much happening all at once, it can be comforting to see it condensed into a single installation (even if condensed refers to over two-thousand tiles!).


Where: 34th St/Herald Square

art in the subway

Photo via Christopher Janney @ JanneySound

Suspended above the N/R platforms of this station, there is a green bar with sensors that run along its side. While this horizontal rack has a tendency to go unnoticed by commuters, it’s actually a brilliant piece of interactive art in the subway that encourages New Yorkers to communicate with one another, even at their busiest. Waving your hands in front of the sensors causes a light to flicker on, and a sound to come from the rack on the opposite platform.With this unique musical instrument, those on the downtown and uptown platforms can interact without a single word!

4. My Coney Island Baby

Where: Coney Island/Stillwell Avenue

art in the subway

Photo via MTA

There are a number of creative reasons to make your way down to Brooklyn’s Coney Island. NYC street art is one, while the other is the artwork of Robert Wilson. This installation features a wall of glass bricks showcasing silkscreened images. The format of this unusual exhibit makes the pictures — like Nathan’s Hot Dog stand and Coney Island’s famous carousel — especially alluring on sunny days when light streams in, illuminating the images. Just one reason to plan your Coney Island trip for a sunny day!

5. Elevated

Where: Lexington Avenue/63rd St

art in the subway

Photo via MTA Flickr

With the Second Avenue Station nearly a decade in the making, artist Jean Shin had to pull out all the stops when planning her contribution. Sure enough, her mural “Elevated” is a standout even among the world class art of this brand new subway line. This piece spans over three levels of the station, depicting the construction done to dismantle the Second and Third Avenue line, along with stills of commuters — all of which are composed of ceramic tile, glass mosaic and laminated glass. This piece works to connect the past of New York to the present. And this is something you can be a part of for yourself, now that this new subway line is open.

In case you missed it, here is one of my favorite posts I wrote on NYC Street Art:

Finding Street Art along the Walls of New York City

Do you have any special places you to see street art in NYC? If so, I’d love to hear about it!



  1. What fun and the best part it I didn’t have to go anywhere near NYC to enjoy all the art!! 🙂 Saw some amazing chalk artists in London some years ago and Philadelphia has amazing murals, as does Chicago, even though I rarely get into the city and look for them. Happy Thursday!


  2. I don’t have any additions to the list — but I certainly thank you for adding to *my* list with this wonderful post! That last mural is especially stunning, isn’t it?

  3. A fascinating insight into a city I’ve never visited but holds a pull for me all the way over here in Melbourne. I find the ‘Reach’ particularly interesting. Thank you for a lovely post, and Nicole for the guest post on her blog 💐🌟🌟

      1. I did enjoy it, Nicole. And happy to know you enjoyed my City when you were here. Hope to see you one day on a return visit 🙂🌟

      2. I would love to go back to Australia someday. It is such an amazing country! Would love to meet you and Miriam who I’ve really gotten to know online. 🙂

      3. Come back soon Nicole 🙋
        And it would be the biggest thrill for me to sit in the presence of both you and Miriam. Thank you for including me in the trio… I’m so honoured. Hope it becomes reality 🌎💜🌎

  4. What a great post! I will make sure to visit the stations you mention to see the art for myself. Thanks a lot!

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