The Street Art Subway Compasses: Spreading


We recently reported on some compass stencils that had been painted outside two subway stops in lower Manhattan’s SoHo and Nolita. Well, it looks now as if the urban assistance for the directionally impaired has gained traction, and is now spreading to all subway lines. And they’ve caught quite a few eyes.

The compasses made meme aggregation site Buzzfeed, pop culture maven site Flavorwire, tending topic board Reddit, and quite a few others.

As NYC The Blog — who it seems got on this beat before everyone else — recently pointed out, the issue of cardinal directions in New York City was even the focus of a New York Times blog post a few days ago. So: Timely! And now, again, according to NYC The Blog, they’re popping up everywhere to help New Yorkers get where they’re going.

Over the weekend, compasses were noticed on the 123 line at Houston and Varick, and on the BD line somewhere. Stations at the 6 line, the 123 line, the BD and NRW now all have stenciled compasses.

NYC’s got more pictures at their public Facebook account here. But the question remains: Who’s doing these? And what’s the city think of an idea that seems like it should’ve already been put into place long before (but is likely illegal)? We’re gonna try to hit someone up for quote to find out the answer to one or both of these questions. But remember, despite not being entirely pleased with the implications some people drew from Improv Everywhere’s infamous “Tourist Lane” street art project, Bloomberg was mildly amused with it, noting that he thought it was a “nice thing to do” and “very cute.” Maybe the city should commission these? After all, it’s not the worst investment to help everyone in this city to their eventual destinations just a little faster, given that most of us are perpetually late, regardless.