LEARN: Guastavino Tile

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They’re called SUBWAY tiles, but who put them in the subway in the first place??? I couldn’t seem to get a straight answer on exactly who came up with those tiles for the subway. The reasons for use are clear: they’re clean-looking when they ARE clean, they’re easy to scrub down and they’re pretty durable little things. People use them now because they’re a bit of a throwback, but still look modern and /once again/ CLEAN! But who was it, I want to know, who sat down with a white-glazed ceramic tile and said, “This! Use this!”

…and then I looked it up on wikipedia. Go figure. It seems to have been a couple of individuals. These guys were the architects: Heins & LaFarge. And this guy designed the most gorgeous stop of all: Rafael Guastavino. Heins and LaFarge get most of the credit for choosing the tile and then implementing some of the first really cool mosaic designs that are at each of the stops. But Guastavino came up with the vaulted and tiled ceilings in the City Hall stop, which is sadly no longer in use. One can see the tile via the internet, on the ground level entrance at the Brooklyn Bridge – City Hall stop or the super-secret method of staying on the 6 train as it ends the line and has to loop around at City Hall.

I mean, look at that! And, lo and behold, it turns out another strong reason for the tiles was how it reflected the light from the grates and skylights above. Exactly what I experienced when my tiles went up behind my kitchen shelves.

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