New York City is home to countless examples of great public art, with many exhibitions located in subway stations. And this art is free to view – assuming that you are traveling by subway. I’ve always enjoyed glimpses of the mosaics and sculptures scattered throughout many of the subway stations in the city, but more recently I’ve started viewing the subway stations as a destination in themselves, miniature art museums, rather than just transportation hubs. As I’ve done so, I’ve been able to learn even more about the public art offerings in New York City.
The 14th Street/8th Avenue Station is one such destination, containing a large collection of bronze sculptures by artist Tom Otterness, collectively titled “Life Underground.” Some of the sculptures are easy to find, but others require a little more effort. The more you explore the station, the more unique sculptures you will find – some in the most unexpected of places! Check high and low, behind and underneath. You’ll be rewarded for your explorations.
I found this fun sculpture underneath the stairs on the A/C/E platform. Thankfully, they can’t really saw through the pillar!
You may have heard the mythological accounts of alligators in the New York City sewers. There are several sculptures like this one, referencing that famous myth.
Here are a few more examples of the sculptures located on the A/C/E platforms.
The stairways and ramps between the mezzanine level and the L platform provide opportunities to discover additional sculptures, so make sure you explore all platforms and the mezzanine level in the station. One of my favorite pieces is this one, hanging above the ramp to the L platform. Here’s both the full view and a close-up of that sculpture.
Here are two more sculptures from the L platform, although there are still many more for you to discover if you visit!
Want to see these intriguing sculptures for yourself? You can reach the 14th Street/8th Avenue Station on the A, C, E, and L trains. Once you’re done touring the station, Chelsea Market and the High Line are close by, as well as the NYC neighborhoods of Chelsea and the Meatpacking District.