Davis Square statues

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Ten Figures
A sculpture resembling an elderly man and woman walking down the street, with trees and buildings in the background.
Artist James Tyler[1]
Type Concrete, bronze
Location Davis Station and nearby, Somerville, Massachusetts
Coordinates 42°23′48.2″N 71°07′20.7″W / 42.396722°N 71.122417°W / 42.396722; -71.122417Coordinates: 42°23′48.2″N 71°07′20.7″W / 42.396722°N 71.122417°W / 42.396722; -71.122417
Owner Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority

The Davis Square statues, entitled Ten Figures, are life-sized cast masonry public sculpture, created by James Tyler,[1] located in Davis Square, Somerville, Massachusetts at and near the Davis, Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority subway station. The statues are based on people who lived near Davis Square in the 1980s. In 1996 bronze "masks" were added to the sculptures to repair vandalism damage and deter future vandalism.

Arts on the Line[edit]

The sculptures were created as a part of the MBTA and the Cambridge Arts Council's Arts on the Line program. This first of its kind program was devised to bring art into the MBTA's planned Northwest Extension of the Red Line subway stations in the late 1970s and early 1980s, and became a model for similar drives for public art across the country.[2] The statues were one of 20 artworks created for this program, out of over 400 proposals submitted by artists[3] for artworks spread out across five different newly created subway stations. The first 20 artworks, including this one, were completed with a total cost of $695,000 USD, or one-half of one percent of the total construction cost of the Red Line Northwest Extension.[2]


The statues in Davis Square are all based on actual people who lived in or around the square.[4] For instance, one of the statues is of an elderly man and woman standing arm in arm; it depicts a couple who owned a little restaurant. "They were the nicest people you'd ever meet in your whole life." says a woman who knew them, "If you didn't have a dime, you could still get a nice dinner for nothing."[5]

The statues are composed of cast masonry,[6] and were all originally located in one plaza, in front of J.P. Licks and a Store 24, but in 1996, the Somerville Arts Council, in conjunction with the city, chose to move the statues to their current locations all across Davis Square, in front of subway stations, and in other small parks nearby.[4] Also in 1996 bronze "masks" were added to the statues. Steven Post states, “the statues were meant to be ‘temporary’ in that they were not made of bronze. Vandals destroyed some of the faces of the statues over the years, so the artist and the city decided to replace the faces with the bronze ‘mask’ that the statues all now ‘wear’.”[4]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b James Tyler public art listing Accessed January 7, 2012
  2. ^ a b Red Line Northwest Extension Pamphlet page 5. The Davis Square Tiles Project. Accessed October 10, 2010
  3. ^ Nesbitt, Lois E. Arts on the Line: Art for Public Transit Spaces At the Hayden Gallery, MIT, 160 Memorial Drive, Cambridge Through March 16. Harvard Crimson. February 15, 1980. Accessed October 12, 2010
  4. ^ a b c Historic Preservation Commission: The Statues of Davis Square. City of Somerville. Accessed March 17, 2011.
  5. ^ Arts on the Line. Northern Light Productions. 0:36- 0:55. Accessed March 17, 2011.
  6. ^ Red Line Northwest Extension Pamphlet pages 10-11. The Davis Square Tiles Project. Accessed May 30, 2010

External links[edit]