ATLANTIC AVENUE, Downtown Brooklyn

A social obligation necessitated my presence on Atlantic Avenue in downtown Brooklyn the other night, and I got off the IRT #2 train in the Atlantic Avenue station, which has gradually been completely remodeled and renovated over the past decade as the Barclays Center has risen above it. Barclays partially footed the bill for station renovations, and in return, had its name slapped onto the station names of the two BMT lines and one IRT branch that converge here.

The IRT Atlantic Avenue station is the oldest, opening May 1st, 1908 as the terminal of the IRT’s first foray into Brooklyn, and still gives evidence of the Beaux-Arts era it was born into with several masterful mosaic plaques and ceramic medallions. As you can see, the medallions are modular, made up of several pieces that fit together. Several colors such as pink, beige and forest green all come together harmoniously. NYC’s Dutch heritage is symbolized by a pair of tulips, which can also be seen on other ceramic plaques in Manhattan.

Note also the use of the swastika, a symbol of good luck before the Nazis forever corrupted it, at least in the West.

When the platform was extended in 1910, the “A” medallions were reproduced in mosaic to save a few bucks.


A glass block wall was constructed during station renovations and one of the mosaic ID plaques was mounted within it. Thousands pass by these artworks every day, but are too busy to notice the care and workmanship that went into them. Note once again the use of tulips in the blue border on each side.

(I’m now told these are new mosaics created during the reno, but I don’t have confirmation.)


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5 Responses to ATLANTIC AVENUE, Downtown Brooklyn

  1. Chee Eff says:

    I was looking at the mosaics at the Fulton Street platform for the 4/5/6 yesterday and couldn’t comprehend why the letters weren’t formed with larger pieces of inlay, rather than the as-used triple-wide insets. And then I thought how creativity blossomed with such a time-consuming art.

    But I never realized that the design you refer to was a tulip. I thought that upside down it would be a squash blossom, an earlier native American symbol.

    Still learning, with open eyes.

  2. Diane says:

    Such lovely details! I am sooo grateful there are people like you who notice them and share! The history is mind-boggling and we’re so lucky to have these remnants left to us. They aren’t makin’ ’em anymore, that’s for sure!

  3. jt bklyn says:

    Hi, nice little article. The “Atlantic Avenue” mosaic in the glass wall, as well as all the mosaics on the Manhattan-bound local platform, are newly created from the renovation. They are very well done and look just like the originals.

    The mosaic versions of the medallions where created when the IRT first extended the platforms by the 1920s, and were required to mimic the original style of the station. Similar versions exist at the IRT Borough Hall station with beautiful “BH” mosaics at the southern end, before the 1960s beige “refrigerator” style blocks. I think these look great!

  4. Larry says:

    Sometime, coming home to Flatbush, I would forget that I was on a Lexington Ave train in midday that ended at Atlantic Avenue so I would have to get off and go dowm and up again to the local side to catch my Flatbush Ave local train….

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