Flying Home: Harlem Heros and Heroines

Faith Ringgold is an award-winning artist, writer and teacher who was born and raised in New York City. In 1992, as part of the city’s Arts for Transit program, the Metropolitan Transit Authority commissioned her to create two thirty foot mosaic murals for the 125th street subway station platform — one of the busiest locations in Harlem.

The murals were inspired by a song by Lionel Hampton, Flying Home Harlem that Ringgold heard when she was a child. They depict iconic men, women and places that were influential in Harlem’s history.

“I love every one of these people,” Ringgold told the MTA. “I wanted to share those memories, to give the community – and others just passing through – a glimpse of all the wonderful people who were part of Harlem. I wanted them to realize what Harlem has produced and inspired.”

The mosaics were fabricated in a small town near Venice, Italy and installed at the stop for the 2 and 3 express in December 1996. On her Web site, Ringgold says, “When you are in New York, go to see them. And then have dinner at Sylvia’s, the famous soul food restaurant just a block away.”

Mural in the 125th Street subway station

The Harlem Opera House

Madame C.J. Walker and her College of Hair Culture

Abyssinian Baptist Church

Billie Holiday

The Ink Spots and the Apollo Theater

Marian Anderson

The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People and the National Council of Negro Women

Jesse Owens and his Olympic gold medals

Faith Ringgold
Faith Ringgold’s blog
MTA Arts for Transit: 125th Street

7 Responses to Flying Home: Harlem Heros and Heroines

  1. Olivier says:

    je reviens de NYC, mais je n’ai pas vu ces superbes mosaïques dans le métro, dommage elles sont très belles. Par contre j’ai vu les sculptures de Tom Otterness dans Roosevelt Island.

    I returned from NYC, but I have not seen these beautiful mosaics in the subway, damage they are very beautiful. By cons I saw sculptures by Tom Otterness in Roosevelt Island.


  2. Gabrielle says:

    Hi! from Sydney, Australia,

    These mosaics are fantastic, I would love to come and see them. Real Art made for real people.




  3. Gabrielle says:

    If you come across more interesting art, please let me know.


  4. rina says:


    I was so interested that I found information about all heroes and heroines.

    Only one person I was not able to identify Please, tell me who is he?
    He’s on mosaic where Abyssinian Baptist Church and Adam Clayton Powell, Jr.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Tutu says:

    I believe it is Marcus Garvey

    Liked by 1 person

  6. The delightful mosaic murals at 125th Street are featured as part of our Subway Art Tour Four [], along with nine other subway stations, three in Harlem, displaying fabulous public art. Take the Tour; Know More!


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