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The Insider's Connection


The “Brightest” Subway Station – 49th Street

Do you ever notice something aesthetically unusual in New York and wonder about its history? Thousands of commuters pass through the bright orange, open, columnless 49th Street subway station at 7th avenue every day and likely notice – it looks nothing like NYC’s other stations! How did this happen? In the 1970s, the MTA was expanding and funding the enhancement of existing stations that needed an upgrade. The architectural trends at the time were about clean lines, bold colors, and unobstructed spaces and when architect Philip Johnson was commissioned to spearhead the $2.5 million renovation of the 49th Street subway station, he had “cheer” in mind. This is the theater district, and the subway, he thought, was ready for some zest and color. The 49th Street station previously looked similar to most others in New York City – white tiling…

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November 5, 2019

New York’s Floating Sidewalk Subway Map

How does art become part of a city’s fabric? For a piece to be appreciated, does the original intention have to be clear? What happens when the context shifts but the piece remains the same? In 1985, SoHo would’ve been dark and run-down, home to artists’ lofts, workspaces, and vacant buildings lining streets that were not yet gentrified. An art piece on 110 Greene Street was even more of a spectacle when it was finished 34 years ago, illuminating the block at night, drawing admiration and attention during the day. You can still find it right now, but SoHo looks pretty different; you’ll need to brave crowds of shoppers and tourists, and remember to look down. Subway Map Floating On A NY Sidewalk by Francoise Schein is a spectacular arrangement of lights, stainless steel, and brass rods on the sidewalk….

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August 5, 2019

Unearthing the First Subway: Alfred Ely Beach

Do you commute on the subway? If you do, you’re one of millions who swipes their MetroCard each day, and probably does not consider the first people who traveled underground in Manhattan and the subway’s lost history. Alfred Ely Beach was the editor and published of The Scientific American, an inventor, a publisher at The New York Sun, and a patent lawyer. In 1867, he worked in an office on the crowded corner of Chambers Street and Broadway. Traffic congestion, especially down Broadway, was an increasingly pervasive problem in Manhattan and Beach had a hugely ambitious idea: public transportation for New Yorkers, entirely underground. Beach struggled to get the approval and permits he needed from Tammany Hall–New York’s corrupt political organization overseen at the time by William “Boss” Tweed. To legally begin construction, he’d have to possess a franchise, which…

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April 29, 2019