The MetroCard's usefulness isn't limited to the subways and buses. A Manhattan woman is turning the cards into art that's sold in galleries. NY1's Jose Martinez filed the following report.
For 8 million people each day, MetroCards are nothing more than a ticket to the city's sprawling transit system.
Nina Boesch sees them a different way.
"Initially, I was really just collecting them as souvenirs. I came from Germany and was thinking, 'I'm going to bring these home as gifts for my friends,'" she says. "But I realized I could put them to good use and make art with it."
The result? MetroCard art. Fantastic cityscapes, pictures of legendary athletes and entertainers, city landmarks.
She glues pieces of the cards to create intricate scenes and faces of the city. There are portraits of fire hydrants, bridges and transit maps. Look closely, and you can see the text on the cards transformed into subway lines.
"Sometimes, I do use smaller scissors just to get the details. And sometimes I need to cut out type. So individual letters, I usually use, like, little nail scissors," she says.
Some of her work is currently displayed at the Elena Ab Gallery. An image of the Brooklyn Bridge is priced at $450. A skyline piece can be yours for $3,700. That's a lot of subway rides.
The gallery's owner, Elena Ab, says her clients are fascinated by Boesch's works.
"It's very New York," Ab says. "Almost every person that's been through New York at some point is in the subways. It's the creativity of thinking, of taking this medium and create a mosaic. To me, it's just brilliant."
Great art is timeless. The MetroCard, however, is not. The MTA is set to start phasing out the MetroCard by 2020. Boesch, though, says she's not the least bit concerned that she'll ever run out of art supplies.
Boesch acknowledges that obtaining MetroCards has gotten much tougher since 2013, when the MTA added a $1 new card fee to each MetroCard purchase, encouraging riders to re-use their cards rather than toss them away. But she's not worried about that, either.
"I collected so many MetroCards over time," she says. "And thankfully, I have all my friends and my colleagues. Everybody collects MetroCards for me."