The 163 Street subway station in Washington Heights gets an overhaul—complete with lush mosaics

Updated: 3 days ago


New mosaics by Firelei Báez at the renovated 163 St subway station

No one would argue that what the subway needs most right now are trains that run on time. But in an era when crumbling stations seem to be the norm, it's a happy day when any stop gets a top-to-bottom renovation–and with it some truly stunning artwork.

New mosaics by Firelei Báez at the renovated 163 St subway station

Last week the MTA announced it had completed a seven-month overhaul of the 163 St-Amsterdam Av station on the C line, and the stop is now open and ready for its close-up.

New mosaics by Firelei Báez at the renovated 163 St subway station

“We’re so excited to be returning this station to the neighborhood better than it has ever been, after much-needed repairs and improvements,” said Andy Byford, the MTA's new president, in a statement. “Structural fixes as well as modern touches like more real-time service info, energy-efficient lighting and updated security system mean a safer, easier to use station for our customers.”

New mosaics by Firelei Báez at the renovated 163 St subway station

The stop had been closed since March to allow workers to repair leaks, rusted infrastructure, damaged tiles, and more. Besides gleaming walls and floors, riders will now find new countdown clocks and digital panels with maps and service changes.

New mosaics by Firelei Báez at the renovated 163 St subway station

Best of all, four new mosaics by Dominican-born, New York-based artist Firelei Báez brighten the mezzanine and platform walls. The colorful pieces feature Caribbean motifs from nature and folklore, like the Ciguapa, a mythical female figure. The glass mosaic was manufactured by Mayer of Munich.

New mosaics by Firelei Báez at the renovated 163 St subway station

If it's a tactic by the MTA to distract riders while they wait for delayed trains, it just might work.

P.S. Want to see more of Báez's work? Take the C train down two stops to the Schomburg to see her show "Joy Out of Fire," an homage to the great women whose legacies have been preserved at the library.

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