New York City Transit Honors 'Heroic' Workers Who Have Died from COVID with Subway Memorial

Jen Juneau
·3 min read

The Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) in New York City is honoring its workers who have died from COVID-19 with a citywide memorial inside subway stations.

Screens inside the fare gates at 107 stations across the city will show portraits of 111 of the 136 MTA workers who have died from COVID-19 over the last year.

Called "Travels Far," the 8-minute video incorporates a poem by Tracy K. Smith, commissioned for the project, and will run each day at 10:30 a.m., 2:30 p.m. and 8:30 p.m. though Feb. 7, Curbed reports. It can also be viewed online.

"Family members shared photographs and selected colors reflected in the 111 portraits included in this special tribute to the heroic transit workers who dedicated their lives to moving New Yorkers around the city and region," according to the video's description.

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MTA Arts & Design/MTA New York City Transit MTA memorial for workers who have died from COVID-19

MTA Arts & Design/MTA New York City Transit MTA memorial for workers who have died from COVID-19

When the COVID-19 pandemic emerged the U.S. in March, NYC was the epicenter and MTA employees were hard-hit by the virus. Nearly all of the COVID-19 deaths among MTA employees occurred in those early months, when the virus' full spread was not yet known and officials hadn't recommended wearing masks.

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New York City Transit Authority (NYCT)'s interim president, Sarah Feinberg, told Curbed that they decided to run the memorial now, one year after the first COVID-19 case was found in the U.S. but well before the pandemic will be under control. "We couldn't wait until it's over, because [the pandemic is] not going to be over anytime soon."

"Here we are 10 months after we lost our first colleague and we still can't gather in a physical space," she continued.

Feinberg also said that "At minimum, I want all of the families of the colleagues who have passed away to be able to easily, safely and conveniently enter the system and see how much we care about their loved ones and honor their sacrifice."

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"And I want our 55,000 employees to see the memorial as well — to constantly walk by screens that show how grateful and honored we are," she added of the initiative, which includes workers within the NYCT, Metro North and Long Island Rail Road (LIRR).

MTA Chairman and CEO Patrick J. Foye also said that the workers' families have been taken care of financially, according to ABC7.

Feinberg told Curbed that the decision to display the memorial throughout the city is a reminder "for New Yorkers to understand the price that has been paid by so many."

"If this gives the city a way to honor the people who carried the city on their backs for the bulk of the pandemic, it could help the city grieve, it could help the city understand, at its core, the price that's been paid," she said.

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