Aretha Franklin Subway Tributes – New York, New York - Atlas Obscura

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Aretha Franklin Subway Tributes

A touching tribute to the "Queen of Soul." 


Following the example of grassroots memorials to Aretha Franklin, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) installed stickers with the single word “Respect” in its Franklin Street and Franklin Avenue subway stations. The stickers, graphically similar to certain MTA signs, reference the renowned singer’s 1968 Grammy Award-winning recording.

Spontaneous tributes appeared on Wednesday, August 15, 2018, when the public learned that the performer was quite ill. For example, people wrote “Aretha” above “Franklin” in the Franklin Street station. Someone pasted decals to a staircase that read, “Aretha makes me feel like a natural woman,” paraphrasing another of her hits from the same year.

Franklin passed from this life on August 16, 2018. Following her death, graffiti appeared in the Franklin Avenue station as well. The MTA initially removed the impromptu tributes in both stations, consistent with its policies regarding graffiti and unauthorized signs, resulting in public outcry.

On September 1, 2018, the same day as a televised memorial service for the “Queen of Soul,” the MTA applied the “Respect” stickers in the Franklin Street and Franklin Avenue stations. Although announced as temporary, the stickers remain in place and in generally good condition years later.

Know Before You Go

The address above is for the Franklin Street station, in Manhattan. The Franklin Avenue station is in Brooklyn, at 40.681126, -73.955712, and is served by the C train, with a connection to the Franklin Avenue shuttle.

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August 4, 2022

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