Notes on Station Name Changes
By William Zucker
Many stations on our system have undergone name changes over the years. Some of the more recent ones that have taken place are in response to a suggestion by Committee for Better Transit, an activist organization that was far more visible in the past than in recent years. These recent changes are based on the premise that all stations within a transfer complex should bear the same name, for "easier indentification."
These may be useful for those out-of-towners and tourists who use the system on a very occasional or transient basis, but for those using it every day, most are already inured to its peculiarities and do not need such specifics.
- IND Broadway-East New York, as well as BMT Broadway-Jamaica Line Eastern Parkway, are now both Broadway Junction.
- IND Broadway-Nassau St. is now Fulton St.
- BMT Lawrence St. (with Metro-Tech later added on) is now Jay St.-Metro-Tech, although the station never reached Jay St.
- BMT Pacific St. is now Atlantic Ave.-Pacific St. even though, rather ironically, the Atlantic Ave. exit from this station closed several years ago and has never reopened.
- In addition, on Metro North, 125th St. is now Harlem-125th St. But as long as they want to be so community-specific, perhaps it should have been designated East Harlem-125th St.
- IRT White Plains Rd. Line - Simpson St. With such an important cross street as Southern Blvd. located just a block away (this configuration obviously resulted from the curve at that point and the desired avoiding of placing a station along a curve) should the name Southern Blvd. be included in the name?
- IRT Pelham Line - Sound View Ave. The now prevalent inclusion of Morrison Ave. in the station name could have come about for precisely this reason.
- On the IRT Bronx Lines, the terminal stations were originally designated in a somewhat unexpected manner: 242nd St.-Broadway originally read Van Cortlandt Park - Manhattan College. There was no 242nd St. sign anywhere on the station. The now-abandoned 180th St.-Bronx Park station originally read 180th St.-New York Zoological Park. Pelham Bay Park originally read Pelham Bay Parkway.
- Many stations had different names when the first opened, and were immediately changed afterward. All of these I feel were for the better as giving more accurate information in terms of later years. Such are the IRT 149th St.-Grand Concourse White Plains Rd. Line lower level station, originally Mott Ave., IRT 138th St.-Grand Concourse, Jerome Ave. Line, originally Mott Haven, and IRT Broadway Line 125th St., originally Manhattan St.
- Along the IRT Jerome Ave. Line at one time, prior to the modernization of station signage, the benefits of which one could debate about, many of its stations had numbered streets indicated within the designations, on the tabs on the lamps along the extensions. Thus, Mt. Eden Ave., Burnside Ave., Fordham Rd., Kingsbridge Rd., and Bedford Park Blvd. were at least partially co-indicated as 173rd, 180th, 189th, 194th, and 200th Sts.
- On the abandoned Third Ave. Line in the Bronx, Claremont Pkway was very cleverly designated, with an additional description citing between 171st and 172nd St.
- There are many others that could be cited. Should 205th St. at the end of the IND Concourse Line become Perry Ave.? It might if the line were to be ever extended as proposed in the Second System of the Independent Subway.
- Many streets in Queens in earlier times had different names from the ones used today, especially the numbered streets. Those along the Astoria and Flushing Lines are well known and still vernacularly used even though the TA has in recent years attempted to do away with them. The same is true of the stations along the outer IND/former BMT Fulton St. line to Lefferts Blvd. Less known is the fact that many of the outer stations of the BMT Jamaica Ave. Line (especially the abandoned portion) also originally had different names, which could be evidenced under the lettering of the original enamel signs; the impressions were clearly visible. Those on the IND Rockaway Line are still used.
- Continental Ave. on the IND Queens Line survived for many years because it was an important terminal for local trains serving the inner portion, and even started to reappear on the street signs. The older post war cars (R-27/30's through R-46's) still carried this on their roll signs, but in more recent years, the TA has endeavored to squelch this usage by reverting to the more prosaic 71st Ave.
- Truthfully, one could regret the disappearance of certain of these designations, some of which have gone just recently, as they give a very clear picture as to what specific station, even within a complex or along a line, one might be referring to.
- On the now IRT Corona-Flushing Line what was designated on maps as 104th St. - Corona Plaza -Alburtis Ave., on the actual station, the signs were changed from 104th to 103rd St. sometime during the 1940's, with the other designations remaining.
- On the BMT Jamaica Ave. Line, the 102nd St. station had the 102nd St. exit closed, so the station sensibly was redesignated by the street at the other exit, 104th St.
- BMT Brighton Line - 7th Ave. The actual cross street where all exits ever have been is Park Pl.; there has never been an exit at 7th Ave.
- BMT Brighton Line - Newkirk Ave. The important cross street here is Foster Ave., not Newkirk Ave., which is little more than an alleyway by comparison. Perhaps they were thinking of Newkirk Plaza when they named the station, but if so, it is simply another example of the loose semantics in common use during the pre-war years - Astoria Ave. and Ditmars Ave. on the BMT Astoria Line; Lefferts Ave. on the IND Fulton St. Line, and Fort Hamilton Ave. on the BMT Sea Beach Line.
- BMT/IND Culver Line - Van Sicklen. On older maps even appearing as Van Sicklen or even Siclen Ave., a meaningless designation, as it is nowhere near the Van Sicklen St. located in Gravesend further up the line. It was probably the best decision to rename the station Neptune Ave. as providing information about the nearest cross street, which however is still a short distance from the station.
- One could, however, scarcely regret the disappearance of 22nd Ave. on the Sea Beach and Culver Lines, and its replacement by Bay Parkway which is actually much more descriptive. Locals still refer to Bay Ridge Ave. and Bay Ridge Parkway as 69th St. and 75th St. respectively.
- This brings to mind the possibility of other such name modifications or additions:
BMT Culver Line Ditmas Ave. Cortelyou Rd.-16th Ave. Ave. I 20th Ave. Ave. N 60th St. (24th Ave.) Ave. P 65th St. Ave. X 86th St. BMT West End Line 50th St. 12th Ave. (I believe this station is actually at 49th St.) 55th St. 13th Ave. 62nd St. 60th St.-14th Ave. 71st St. Bay Ridge Ave.-16th Ave. 79th St. 17th Ave.
- BMT Kosciusko St., Broadway-Brooklyn Line might perhaps better be known as De Kalb Ave.
- On the BMT Manhattan Bridge Line, Myrtle Ave. (now closed) was originally Gold St., changed during construction. And at the other end, the Canal St. lower level station was originally designated Broadway, with Canal St. enamel signs added because the Broadway was clearly inadequate, but the station never reached Broadway. By necessity it was some considerable distance away (evidenced in that long transfer passageway between bridge and tunnel trains) due to the extreme curve at that point.
- It has been mentioned to me that Liberty Ave. on the IND Fulton St. Line should perhaps be designated Pennsylvania Ave. Similarly, the IRT New Lots Ave. station might perhaps instead be Ashford St.
- The IND High St.-Brooklyn Bridge station presents an interesting case. At the time opened, High St. extended across the plaza to Fulton St. All those intervening streets connecting Washington St. to Fulton St. were obliterated after the war, with the result that only a tiny block of High St. remains, not where the station is located. And until about the 1970's or so, when this penchant for modernizing all signs took hold, the entrance kiosk at this station read Smith St.-8th Ave., reflecting the earliest years when the A train actually did operate to Church Ave. (until 1936), before the Fulton St. Line was ready. Presumably, most remained unaware of this very interesting piece of history as it remained in place for many years.
- IND 6th Ave. 47th-50th St.-Rockefeller Center. The station never reached 50th St. One has a choice of walking a city block either on the street or through an underground passageway from the fare controls to access 50th St. One might as well have referred to 59th St.-Columbus Circle as 57th-61st St.-Columbus Circle. 57th St. is similarly only accessible by city block or underground passageway; there was an exit at 61st St. which unfortunately the Police Department took over for their own uses, although I have used that exit many times.
- IND West 4th St.-Washington Square. Aside from being nowhere near Washington Square, the station itself, although centered on West 4th St., does not have an exit at that cross street. The same is true of IND Carroll St.; centered on that street, but no exit at that point.
- BMT Broad St. on the Nassau St. Line should certainly be renamed Wall St.
- 163rd St.-Amsterdam Ave. Similarly, on the IND Washington Heights Line, at the 163rd St.-Amsterdam Ave. station, the 163rd St. exit has been closed and sealed up for years. It would be clearly desirable to rename the station in full as 161st St.-Amsterdam Ave.
- Times Square. A word about the Times Square complex. The name appears to refer only to the general locality, and except for the shuttle station, does not skirt Times Square at all. The stations on the two main lines, the IRT 7th Ave. and BMT Broadway, barely reach 42nd St. (although the latter line has a station at 49th St. whose 47th St. exit actually does touch Times Square). The Flushing Line runs along 41st St. at that point and thus is not in Times Square.