Every Person in New York
There are plenty of excellent, high-end tile stores in the city, including Artistic Tile, 38 W. 21st [5th/6th] 212.727.9331, Bisazza, 508 W. 20th [10th/11th] 212.334.7130, and Walker Zanger, 37 E. 20th [Bway/Park Ave. S.] 212.844.3000. For the budget-minded, Classic Tile NY, 1635 86th Street [16th/17th Aves.] Bklyn 718.331.1242 and Quality Tile, 2541 Boston Road Bx 718.653.0830.
The terra cotta that adorns many building facades is one of New York's more underappreciated treasures. A non-profit group dedicated to the preservation of these decorative tiles and ornaments is Friends of Terra Cotta, founded by Susan Tunick. The website hasn't been updated in a long time, but the Ms. Tunick's books about the subject are still available here.
Where to See Guastavino Tile Work
Who's Guastavino? [!]
• The Oyster Bar
• The Cathedral of St. John the Divine
• Ellis Island Registry Room
• St. Paul's Chapel at Columbia University
• The Municipal Building
• Bronx Zoo Elephant House
• City Hall Station
Bethesda Terrace Arcade
Next to Bethesda Fountain, the Minton Tiles: over 15,000 tiles manufactured by England's Minton Tile Company in a space designed by Jacob Wrey Mould. Since its restoration by the Conservancy in 2007, once again one of the glories of the park.
At the Corner of Jackson Heights and Scrabble
[Photo: Matthew D. Britt]
Repair: R. G. New York Tile
Caper: The Brooklyn Tile Heist
Learn: Mosaic classes
National Mah Jongg League, 250 W. 57th [Bway/8th] 212.246.3052, has over 350,000 members and sponsors tournaments, resolves rule disputes, and will even try to find a match for lost tiles. They have an online Mah Jongg game, too.
The MTA's guide to Art En Route is here, browse by artist and Art at Second Avenue Subway Station.
Toynbee Tiles Mystery
Finally, the Toynbee tiles. These are tiles that have been embedded into roads in New York, up and down the East Coast, and as far away as South America for many years. Toynbee was an English historian, and his name appears on these plaques. Exactly what they mean, who's doing them, what the references to Stanley Kubrick and the planet Jupiter signify, remains a mystery. Resurrect Dead: The Mystery of the Toynbee Tiles explores the story.
Jason Polan started Every Person in New York in March of 2008. He plans on working on the project until it is finished. Look for more at Jason's site and his book Every Person in New York.