Subway Tiles

Subway tile has been a popular wall covering for generations. The old classic 3” x 6” tiles are still in vogue, but today it’s being reinvented and manufactured with new subway tile trends — innovative materials, sizes, proportions, and textures. But, have you ever wondered why it’s called “subway tile?”

Does the name come from the tile’s elongated shape, which is reminiscent of a subway car? Or, is it a “sub,” as in substitute, for the classic square tile?

No — the origin of the tile’s name is much more straightforward. It was invented for installation in subway tunnels.

The first subway in New York City was launched in 1904. Its designers, George C. Heins and Christopher Grant LaFarge, intended the subway stations to be as beautiful as they were functional; this was particularly important because underground transportation was a new experience for most city dwellers. Vaulted ceilings, skylights, and tile mosaics decorated the city’s first ticketing station.

The subway tile became a vital part of the subway system’s success, covering the walls in each station and along subway routes. These bright, white ceramic tiles had many distinct advantages. For one thing, since underground passages tended to be dim, the tiles’ white reflective surfaces made the most of all available light.

erhaps the most important feature of the ceramic subway tile was its easy maintenance. City dwellers in the Victorian era valued cleanliness and good hygiene, and these glossy white tiles exuded a sense of purity.

Due to this association, the popularity of subway tiles soared; it was also used in other places where cleanliness was important, such as kitchens, hospitals, food shops, and residential bathrooms. Its peak popularity was the 1920s and ‘30s, but it never fell far out of fashion. Different colors of subway tile have been available for decades. White, however, has been a beloved clas

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Renwick Custom made Tiles
2080 Broadway,                           Grand Junction,Colorado

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