These handsome terra cotta station ID plates are a feature of the northern original IRT stations between 79th Street and 145th Street from 1904, and the 157th Street station from the year after that. They’re currently painted buff and light green. I haven’t checked my Phil Coppola Silver Connections lately, so I’m not sure what color they were painted during his 1970s survey and certainly not what color they originally were.
The form is familiar to those familiar with classical art. A cornucopia, or “horn of plenty” is a large horn — some say a bull’s or goat’s horn — filled with fruits, nuts and other foodstuffs. Hercules, the story goes, was wrestling with a river god disguised as a bull, and broke off one of the river god’s horns which was transformed by naiads into the cornucopia; the story was painted by Thomas Hart Benton.