1. Home
  2. Agencies and Departments
  3. MTA Arts & Design
  4. New York in Transit

New York in Transit

Times Sq-42 St (1/2/3/7/N/Q/R/W/S)

New York in Transit

Jacob Lawrence
Artwork in glass mosaic by Jacob Lawrence showing figures and city life seen from an elevated train.
“New York in Transit” (2001) by Jacob Lawrence at Times Sq-42 St. Photo: Rob Wilson

About the project

The enormous mosaic mural is the focal point of the mezzanine in the Times Square subway complex. Its shimmering and detailed surface pays tribute to the diversity and strength of New York City: Its neighborhoods, cultural life, recreational pleasures, love of sports and, of course, its subway system. "New York in Transit" was Jacob Lawrence's last public work, and in it, he evokes city life as seen from an elevated train. The sensitive and loving portrait shows a slice of city life and is a parting gift to New York City, seen by millions of people who live and visit here. 

About the artist

Jacob Lawrence (1917-2000) was one the most renowned African American artists of his time. The son of Southern migrants, Lawrence was born in Atlantic City, New Jersey, and in 1930, moved with his mother and sister to Harlem. There, during his participation in community art workshops, Lawrence quickly discovered his love of art through the encouragement of teachers. Lawrence’s art was inspired by the cultural visionaries of the Harlem Renaissance. In 1938, Lawrence had his first solo exhibition at the Harlem YMCA, and in 1940 he received a grant from the Rosenwald Foundation to create a 60-panel epic, “The Migration Series,” which catapulted the 23-year-old artist to national acclaim. "The Migration Series" is now owned jointly by the Phillips Collection and MoMA.

In the ensuing decades, Lawrence continued to create paintings drawn from the African American experience using vivid colors set against Black and brown figures, as well as historical and contemporary themes, such as war, religion, and civil rights. He served as a professor of art at the University of Washington from 1971 to 1983. During his later years, Lawrence worked in a variety of media, including large-scale murals, silkscreen prints, and book illustrations. Lawrence's acclaimed works are in the permanent collections of numerous museums around the world.