Subway Station Art: The New Second Avenue Line (Part I)

The New York City subway system doesn’t add new stations very often, but many New Yorkers have been eagerly awaiting the opening of the new Second Avenue subway line. The line, which for now only consists of three stations, has been on the drawing board for more than 100 years. It officially opened on January 1, 2017, and has increased access to Manhattan’s Upper East Side.

One exciting benefit of the opening of these three new stations is some new offerings in subway art as well. Each station is unique, and I plan to offer a tour of each one in the upcoming days. Our first tour is of the art installation at the 72nd Street station. Titled Perfect Strangers, the more than three dozen glass mosaic images by Vic Muniz celebrate the diversity of the people who live and work in the neighborhood that surrounds this subway station. As there is ongoing debate about the American president’s immigration policy, New Yorkers have stood united in the fact that we value diversity and treasure our immigrant friends, family, and neighbors. This weekend in particular, I thought that writing about artwork that emphasizes those positive values was important.

Here are some of my favorite parts of this installation. I’ve also added a few close-up views to give you a sense of the magnificent detail work. I’d love to include photos of them all, but that would make for a very long post! The glass tiles reflect a lot of light, making the images challenging to photograph.

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As you look down the stairs towards the platform, you may also spy the words, “E Pluribus Unum.” The motto of the United States, this Latin phrase means “Out of many, one.”

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If you’d like to see Perfect Strangers for yourself, take the Q train to 72nd Street. Most of the figures are located on the mezzanine level, but keep a sharp lookout in the areas between the street level and the mezzanine – there are more figures on every level, and tucked around a few corners as well!

12 thoughts on “Subway Station Art: The New Second Avenue Line (Part I)

  1. WOW! That is some kinda mosaic. Beautiful work. Some of the images just made me laugh–the cop, the guy scraping the wall, the guy with the exploding briefcase. I am very hopeful that our system of checks and balances will work.

    Liked by 1 person

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