Improvements Include "Metropolitan Faces" Paintings by Alex Katz

Gone to the Katz? MTA Quietly Reopens 57th Street, F Train Subway Station

Updated 5 days ago David Stone
"Metropolitan Faces," one of a series by Alex Katz commissioned by the MTA for this station.
"Metropolitan Faces," one of a series by Alex Katz commissioned by the MTA for this station.
© David Stone / Roosevelt Island Daily

This week, without notice, the Metropolitan Transit Authority, reopened the 6th Avenue, 57th Street Subway Station, on schedule after six months. A brighter, more open station emerges, again featuring art from a living New York Painter, Alex Katz.

The 57th Street Station, the northernmost 6th Avenue stop for F Trains, was always a little strange, serving for years as a terminal when budget crisis after budget crisis ended plans for a line extending to Lincoln Center before connecting crosstown at 63rd Street. Its unique, two-level design makes it clear that designers once had grander plans for it.

Renovations information panel, 57th Street F Train Station. Note: the State's eager to take credit for subways when there's good news.
Renovations information panel, 57th Street F Train Station. Note: the State's eager to take credit for subways when there's good news.
© David Stone / Roosevelt Island Daily

Today, reopened, it's less claustrophobic and better lit. On the upper level, open spaces call out for vendors and are partially answered with humanistic artwork, a series titled Metropolitan Faces, by 91 year old, native New Yorker Alex Katz.

The industrial, basics-only feel of the station banished with tonal visual effects and plenty of art.
The industrial, basics-only feel of the station banished with tonal visual effects and plenty of art.
© David Stone / Roosevelt Island Daily

The 23rd Street Station, reopened last month, featured fellow New Yorker William Wegman and mosaics inspired by his dog paintings, Weimaraners, his most popular work. You could almost imagine the MTA having a sense of humor. 

Almost.

Katz's "Metropolitan Faces" includes a floral anomaly.
Katz's "Metropolitan Faces" includes a floral anomaly.
© David Stone / Roosevelt Island Daily

While the redesign didn't involve serious structural innovation and you're still forced to make counterintuitive turns to get through turnstiles to the platform, the tonal theme makes it feel airier and, a blessing for many, additional seating's been added to the lower level where all the real action of getting on an off F Trains is.

Alex Katz fans will recognize faces from the past, now fixtures on the F Line.
Alex Katz fans will recognize faces from the past, now fixtures on the F Line.
© David Stone / Roosevelt Island Daily

 

The update's not perfect, of course, as debris and sludge linger on the track bed.
The update's not perfect, of course, as debris and sludge linger on the track bed.
© David Stone / Roosevelt Island Daily

 

The lower, active platform abandons art for greater safety and more seating, welcome additions for midtown travelers.
The lower, active platform abandons art for greater safety and more seating, welcome additions for midtown travelers.
© David Stone / Roosevelt Island Daily

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