Oren’s Reading List: The Meaning Behind the NYC Subway Tile Colors

A friend of mine shared this article with me on my personal Facebook page, and I thought I’d share it with the wider audience here.  If you’ve ever been on the New York City Subway, perhaps you noticed that many of the underground stations have tiled walls and mosaics with the station names.  But did you know that the tile colors used to have meaning on the former IND lines?

The NYC subway used to be three, separate systems, and the IND was one of those systems.  Today’s A, B, C, D, E, F, G, M, R, and Rockaway Park Shuttle lines operate on what was the IND for at least part of their routes.  At the underground stations on these routes, the color of the columns and tiles in the station changes at each express stop as you head further away from Manhattan.  The subsequent local stations each have a shade of the same color used at the preceding express stop.  Then, at the next express stop, the color changes.  For example, 59th Street-Columbus Circle is an express stop and you can see in the first photo below that the station columns and tiles are blue. In the second photo, at 110th Street, a local stop north of 59th Street (and further away from downtown Manhattan) and before the next express stop at 125th Street, the columns are still blue.

59th Street

110th Street

You can read the entire article and see a map that visually shows which colors are used for each group of stations at The Gothamist.

Oren’s Reading List is an occasional feature on The Travelogue in which I share articles that I’ve read that might also be of interest to the readers of this website.