In its 119-year history, the NYC subway system’s straphangers went from tickets, to tokens, to mastering the swipe. In 1997 the MetroCard debuted, and 1999 saw the introduction of the MetroCard vending machine. Together they became a beloved, iconic part of New York’s visual identity. They were also the first public-facing project by Antenna Design, whose founders Masamichi Udagawa and Sigi Moeslinger have since left their distinct, thoughtful design all over New York City with projects like LinkNYC.
It’s now 2023, and the MetroCard is being phased out in favor of the MTA’s next-generation fare system, OMNY. Having made its debut in late 2019, OMNY trades magnetic swipes for the tap-and-go infrastructure now common across public transportation systems worldwide.
As the city prepares to say goodbye to a vending machine that has served millions, we wanted to know: How did something designed in the 1990s withstand the test of time — and New York? Watch the video below for the full story.