Department of Cultural Affairs NYCulture City of New York Department of Cultural Affairs NYCulture City of New York

Percent for Art

   Stephen Antonakos

Neon for the 59th Street Marine Transfer Station, 1990 Neon


Neon for the 59th Street Marine Transfer Station

Completion Date:







59th Street Marine Transfer Station


59th Street and 12th Avenue, Manhattan


Richard Dattner and Partners Architects

Sponsor Agency:

Department of Sanitation

Design Agency:

Department of Sanitation

In the tradition of the neon lighting used on New York City's commercial signs, Stephen Antonakos composed an arrangement of colored neon tubes for the renovation of the Marine Transfer Station on the West 59th Street pier. Red neon light frames every other window along the north façade of the station and is visible from the Henry Hudson Parkway. Neon light also accentuates the pediment forms of the west façade, evoking the forms of classical architecture. According to an article in The New Yorker , "the effect is subdued, stately, and somewhat spiritual, like the haloes above votive candles in a dimly lit church."

About the Artist...
Born in Greece, Stephen Antonakos has lived in New York since 1930. He has been working with neon in architectural settings since the early 1970's. Notable permanent installations include works in Japan, Greece, Germany, Los Angeles, Chicago, and Boston. Best known to New Yorkers is his Neon for 42nd Street (1981), a fragmented red spiral of light between Ninth and Tenth Avenues.

Artist Quote...
I feel strongly about the two sites I have chosen for neon for the transfer station. The work depends on continuous experience for complete understanding. Therefore it is most appropriate that those who work in the building should have the opportunity to see the neon in all its different manifestations, in different lights and atmospheres according to the season and hour. The site of the windows along the north wall balances this by addressing the larger public who will view the building most often from the downtown-moving side of the West Side Highway. Together, the two locations work to complement the formal, architectural aspects of the overall project. -- Antonakos