Coffee Cup Motifs in NYC’s 59th Street Subway Station


Don’t fall in!

In the last 10 years or so, lots of subway stations have been revamped, many with mosaics intended to reflect some associations with what’s above the station on the street. Some of these motifs involve food and entertainment — there are fish in the Delancey Street station, for example, and New Year’s revelers at the Times Square stop. Somewhat more inscrutable are the coffee cups and slippers in the 59th Street express stop on the IRT and BMT lines.

Makes you crave a cup of coffee.

Are they intended to evoke the moment you woke up, and had to gird your loins for another hectic day at the office, and set out from the warm comfort of your apartment?

The mosaics are the work of Chicago native Elizabeth Murray (1940-2007). They were created in 1996 and installed on the mezzanine between the express and local platforms sometime later.

Individual coffee cups trail up and down the stairs, and have the effect of making you want a steaming cup of coffee, just to get up the stairs. We’re sure there’s a Starbucks topside somewhere.

This satellite cup is visible as you approach the stairs from the express platform on the uptown 4 and 5.