S train running from Grand Central Station to Times Square [Image: Taiwan Tourism Bureau]

New York’s Subway Decorated with Taiwanese Artwork


In a bid to promote tourism and raise awareness about Taiwanese culture and art, the Taipei Economic and Cultural Office (TECO) in New York partnered with the Metropolitan Transport Authority (MTA) and decorated the S-line subways with Taiwanese artwork. The S-line subway, which runs between Grand Central Station and Times Square, was adorned with Taiwanese motifs and images from October 10 through October 28.

TECO invited renowned artist Meng Chih Chiang to design the trains’ exteriors and interiors. The designs included images of Taiwanese food, landmarks, and people. Meng’s designs also featured portraits of Taiwan’s indigenous population created by indigenous artist, Yosifu. The interiors of the subway were covered in Taiwanese Red and featured “Rattan Chairs.”

The Taiwanese Tourism Bureau also launched a photo contest to engage passengers. Passengers of the S-train were encouraged to take a selfie with the train, and share the photo with the Bureau’s official Instagram account with the hashtag #taiwanstrain. Two winners of the contest would win a round trip flight from New York to Taipei.

The Taipei Economic and Cultural Office is very active in New York and conducts several promotional activities to attract American tourists to Taiwan. In 2014, TECO started awarding its “Overseas Quality Restaurant” award to spread authentic Taiwanese cuisine in the United States. In April 2017, TECO organized a Taiwan VR bike event at Times Square. New York City also hosts the annual Passport to Taiwan festival.

TECO’s promotional activities in the United States increased after American tourists to Taiwan declined by more than 20% between 2001 and 2011. Major locations of TECO’s promotional activities include cities in states such as California and New York, which have the largest and the second largest Taiwanese American populations in the United States respectively. According to the American Community Survey, New York City was home to 10,847 Taiwanese Americans in 2015.

Tourism between New York and Taiwan has grown recently. In 2016, New York was the second most popular state amongst Taiwanese tourists to the United States, who spent more than $222 million during their visits to the state. Taiwan has also become increasingly popular with American tourists. In 2016, more than 523,888 Americans visited Taiwan, an 8.5% increase from the number of American travelers to Taiwan in 2015.

Tanvi Banerjee is a research intern at the East-West Center in Washington. She is a fourth-year undergraduate student at the George Washington University studying International Affairs, with a double concentration in Asia and International Development.