138th STREET STATION, Mott Haven

by Kevin Walsh

From Ossie McGennie in the Facebook New York’s Railroads, Subways & Trolleys Past & Present group (hence the watermark) comes this extraordinary glimpse into the past at the 138th Street/Grand Concourse station, which is under renovation with its exterior tilework temporarily stripped away, revealing what’s underneath. I was walking around Mott Haven just last week (on 11/16/19) and didn’t know this was there!

As you can see the station’s original tilework signs, with serif lettering, have been revealed at least temporarily. At least one aspect of the old tilework has never been covered over: the mosaic “MH”s in the ceiling mosaic bands, which of course stand for Mott Haven. You can see them on this NYC Subways page.

I’d say the exposed mosaics will only be visible for a few days or weeks. Who knows, the MTA may choose to restore them, but their standard practice is to stick with the uniform black and white signs used in every other station.

Check out the ForgottenBook,┬átake a look at the gift shop, and as always, “comment…as you see fit.”

11/23/19

7 comments

redstaterefugee November 23, 2019 - 9:37 am Reply
Mitch45 November 25, 2019 - 4:29 pm

I truly hope that the MTA restores the old sign instead of covering it up. I understand the explanation that some straphangers get confused if old signage gets left up but it seems to me that only applies when the old signage conflicts with the new. In this case, leaving the wonderful old “138TH STREET – GRAND CONCOURSE” sign wouldn’t confuse anyone because that is still the correct description of where the station is.

And by the way, the MTA does not always cover up old signs with new. The Briarwood station on the F line in Queens still has its 1937-era “VAN WYCK BLVD” mosaic tiles up even though the signs on the pillars now read “Briarwood”.

Reply
Kevin Walsh November 25, 2019 - 7:39 pm

You underestimate the MTA’s insatiable desire for standardization in signage! As for Van Wyck Boulevard, the IND Machine Age was all left in place, as has most BMT/IRT mosaic work.

I have my fingers crossed about restoring the 138th St. sign.

Reply
Mitch45 December 10, 2019 - 3:47 pm

That makes no sense. Why would the MTA want to cover up an old, but still useful sign, but leave up signs that refer to non-existent streets? Van Wyck Boulevard has not existed as a roadway since the 1950’s, yet the name tablets are still up despite the station name having been changed to “Briarwood”. Ely Avenue hasn’t existed since the 1930’s.

Does it make sense for stations to have different names on the large name tablets and on the station pillars?

Reply
Derrick January 20, 2020 - 5:07 pm

I also saw mosaics that said 138th Street-Mott Haven. New mosaics?

Reply
Kiwiwriter January 10, 2020 - 1:16 pm

I read somewhere that the MTA has a commitment to preserving pre-existing artistry in stations where possible — they did that to some degree at Franklin Avenue and Canal Street on the N line — and they should do that at 138th Street. Despite their clear wear, those mosaics look better than the wooden signs with black letters they had for many years.

Reply
Adam Wolf January 21, 2020 - 6:51 pm

I believe in queens
There’s a lefferts mall stop
That was wiped out by the lie

Reply

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