If you rummage through the wallet of any New Yorker, there’s a good chance you’ll find at least one MetroCard. The yellow and blue pieces of plastic that grant us passage into the city’s underground have become an essential item for everyday life in the concrete jungle.
Introduced by the MTA in the early ’90s, the MetroCard was the first step taken to phase out the use of archaic subway tokens. Since then, this humble card has slowly transformed into an iconic symbol of New York City.
Over the years, the MTA has changed up the classic, OG appearance of the MetroCard for a variety of limited edition designs and brand collaborations.
From Metrocards that advertise upcoming events and commemorative cards that celebrate MTA milestones, to MetroCard collaborations with popular brands and artists, there are all sorts of cool MetroCards floating around out there.
Check out some of our favorite limited edition MetroCards designs below.
Barbara Kruger MetroCard (2017)
In November 2017, the MTA released 50,000 limited edition Metrocards that displayed the work of American conceptual artist, Barbara Kruger. Available in two sets, the red cards feature bold white lettering asking thought-provoking questions like “Whose fears?,” “Who speaks?,” and “Whose Justice?”
Fun fact: Supreme, the popular clothing brand, jacked her style and aesthetics for their logo. See more on that here.
Jet MetroCard (2017)
In the same month that the MTA issued the Barbara Kruger cards, the MTA also released a limited edition MetroCard sponsored by the e-commerce company, Jet. The eye-catching MetroCard features a white and purple design on the front, as well as a purple design containing the brand’s logo on the back.
Supreme MetroCard (2017)
In February 2017, the MTA issued a highly anticipated MetroCard sponsored by the cult streetwear brand, Supreme. The card, which features the iconic red and white Supreme logo on the front (the same one "inspired" by artist Barbara Kruger above), was released as part of Supreme’s SS17 collection.
The cards were sold at select subway stations across the city, causing long lines and fights in front of MetroCard vending machines.
Second Avenue Subway Commemorative MetroCard
In 2016, the MTA debuted a new MetroCard design to commemorate the grand opening of the Second Avenue Subway with three new stations.
The front of the commemorative card features colorful circles that spell out “The Second Avenue Subway” against a black background, which the back reads, “This is the new MTA.”
NBA All-Star MetroCard
In 2015, the MTA commemorated the NBA All-Star game held at New York City’s Madison Square Garden with a limited edition MetroCard.
The front of the card features the name of the event and a special design against a black background, as well as the quote, “New York takes center court.” The back of the card displays details about the event.
110 Years Of The NYC Subway MetroCard
To celebration the 110th Anniversary of New York City’s subway system, the MTA released a commemorative MetroCard in November of 2015.
The collectible MetroCard, which has four different versions, feature archival photographs accompanied by facts about that highlight important moments and milestones in the subway’s history.
Super Bowl XLVIII MetroCard
In 2014, the MTA collaborated with the NFL to release MetroCards that highlighted the Super Bowl games being held at MetLife Stadium in New Jersey. The limited edition MetroCards come in four different designs that promote the event as well as New York and New Jersey public transit.
Verrazano Narrows Bridge 50th Anniversary MetroCard
The MTA celebrated the 50th anniversary of the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge in 2014 with a limited edition commemorative MetroCard.
The double-sided card features an image of the bridge on the front, and the date of its 50th anniversary, November 21, 2014, on the back.
Brooklyn Nets MetroCard
In 2014, the MTA issued a limited run MetroCard in collaboration with the Brooklyn NBA Nets basketball team. The double-sided card, which proudly displays the quote “We Are Brooklyn” depicts several Nets players on the front and an image of Nets spectators on the back.
Grand Central Centennial MetroCard
In February 2013, the MTA celebrated Grand Central’s 100th anniversary by issuing a commemorative MetroCard.
The MTA offered four different versions of the Grand Central Centennial Metrocard, which display images of either Grand Central’s Main Concourse, the iconic information booth clock, the sculpture of Mercury or an image from Nick Cave’s Heard NY.
I Love New York Hurricane Sandy Commemorative MetroCard
The MTA issued 300,000 new “I Love NY” MetroCards in October 2013, to commemorate the one year anniversary of Hurricane Sandy.
The set, which has six different versions, highlights different parts of the city that were severely affected by the storm. The card celebrated the city’s ability to recover from the storm with the quote, “This is your passport to see the comeback.”
Nick Cave, Heard NY MetroCard
The Nick Cave, Heard NY Metrocard was released by the MTA in 2013 to commemorate the 100th anniversary of Grand Central Terminal. As part of the celebrations, Nick Cave brought Vanderbilt Hall to life with “Heard, NY.”
The project featured a herd of colorful horses that performed choreographed movements. The card, which features an image of the horses, was one of the four designs featured in the Grand Central Centennial MetroCard series.
Reunited 9/11 Memorial MetroCard
In 2011, the MTA released a memorial MetroCard to mark the 10 year anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks on New York City.
The white and black Metrocard, which was offered in two different versions, reads “Unite To Remember” and invites people to take the subway to the 9/11 memorial in lower Manhattan.
New York Subway Centennial MetroCard
In 2004, the MTA celebrated the 100th anniversary of the NYC subway system with a commemorative centennial MetroCard.
The set contains a variety of MetroCards that display images including the World Fair marked train, City Hall Station, 72nd Street Station, 125th Street Station, Bay Ridge Station, the excavation on 42nd Street, the Bronx service expansion, and the Queens Boulevard expansion. As well as a variety of important people who played a role in the creation of the subway system.
[Feature Image Courtesy Billie Grace Ward]