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The New York Subway: Chapter 01, The Route of the Road

From nycsubway.org

THE selection of route for the Subway was governed largely by the amount which the city was authorized by the Rapid Transit Act to spend. The main object of the road was to carry to and from their homes in the upper portions of Manhattan Island the great army of workers who spend the business day in the offices, shops, and warehouses of the lower portions, and it was therefore obvious that the general direction of the routes must be north and south, and that the line must extend as nearly as possible from one end of the island to the other.

The routes proposed by the Rapid Transit Board in 1895, after municipal ownership had been approved by the voters at the fall election of 1894, contemplated the occupation of Broadway below 34th Street to the Battery, and extended only to 185th Street on the west side, and 146th Street on the east side of the city. As has been told in the introductory chapter, this plan was rejected by the Supreme Court because of the probable cost of going under Broadway. It was also intimated by the Court, in rejecting the routes, that the road should extend further north.

It had been clear from the beginning that no routes could be laid out to which no abutting property owners would consent, and that the consent of the Court as an alternative would be necessary to any routes chosen. To conform as nearly as possible to the views of the Court, the Commission proposed, in 1897, the so-called "Elm Street route," the plan finally adopted, which reached from the territory near the General Post-office, the City Hall, and Brooklyn Bridge Terminal to Kingsbridge and the station of the New York & Putnam Railroad on the upper west side, and to Bronx Park on the upper east side of the city, touching the Grand Central Depot at 42d Street.

Subsequently, by the adoption of the Brooklyn Extension, the line was extended down Broadway to the southern extremity of Manhattan Island, thence under the East River to Brooklyn.

The routes in detail are as follows:

Manhattan-Bronx Route

Beginning near the intersection of Broadway and Park Row, one of the routes of the railroad extends under Park Row, Center Street, New Elm Street, Elm Street, Lafayette Place, Fourth Avenue (beginning at Astor Place), Park Avenue, 42d Street, and Broadway to 125th Street, where it passes over Broadway by viaduct to 133d Street, thence under Broadway again to and under Eleventh Avenue to Fort George, where it comes to the surface again at Dyckman Street, and continues by viaduct over Naegle Avenue, Amsterdam Avenue, and Broadway to Bailey Avenue, at the Kingsbridge Station of the New York & Putnam Railroad, crossing the Harlem Ship Canal on a double-deck drawbridge. The length of this route is 13.50 miles, of which about 2 miles are on viaduct.

irtbook_routemap.jpg

IRT Route Map. Click to enlarge.

Another route begins at Broadway near 103d Street and extends under 104th Street and the upper part of Central Park to and under Lenox Avenue to 142d Street, thence curving to the east to and under the Harlem River at about 145th Street, thence from the river to and under East 149th Street to a point near Third Avenue, thence by viaduct beginning at Brook Avenue over Westchester Avenue, the Southern Boulevard, and the Boston Road to Bronx Park. The length of this route is about 6.97 miles, of which about 3 miles are on viaduct.

At the City Hall there is a loop under the Park. From 142d Street there is a spur north under Lenox Avenue to 148th Street. There is a spur at Westchester and Third Avenues connecting by viaduct the Manhattan Elevated Division of Interborough Rapid Transit Company with the viaduct of the subway at or near St. Ann's Avenue.

Brooklyn Route

The route of the Brooklyn Extension connects near Broadway and Park Row with the Manhattan-Bronx Route and extends under Broadway, Bowling Green, State Street, Battery Park, Whitehall Street, and South Street, to and under the East River to Brooklyn at the foot of Joralemon Street, thence under Joralemon Street, Fulton Street, and Flatbush Avenue to Atlantic Avenue, connecting with the Brooklyn tunnel of the Long Island Rail Road at this point. There is a loop under Battery Park beginning at Bridge Street. The length of this route is about 3 miles.

The routes in Manhattan and The Bronx may therefore be said to roughly resemble the letter Y with the base at the southern extremity of Manhattan, the fork at 103d Street and Broadway, the terminus of the westerly or Fort George Branch of the fork just beyond Spuyten Duyvil Creek, the terminus of the easterly or Bronx Park branch at Bronx Park.


Image 17479
(141k, 1024x820)
Photo by: Detroit Publishing Co.
Collection of: Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division
Location: 14th Street/Union Square

Image 17488
(928k, 1024x917)
Photo by: Harvard University/American Memory Collection
Collection of: Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division
Location: Spring Street

Image 17489
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Photo by: Detroit Publishing Co.
Collection of: Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division
Location: Spring Street



Location of Stations

The stations beginning at the base of the Y and following the route up to the fork are located at the following points.

South Ferry, Bowling Green and Battery Place, Rector Street and Broadway, Fulton Street and Broadway, City Hall (Plan of City Hall Loop), Brooklyn Bridge Entrance, Manhattan (Plan of Brooklyn Bridge station); Worth and Elm Streets, Canal and Elm Streets, Spring and Elm Streets, Bleecker and Elm Streets, Astor Place and Fourth Avenue, 14th Street and Fourth Avenue, 18th Street and Fourth Avenue, 23d Street and Fourth Avenue, 28th Street and Fourth Avenue (Plan of 28th Street & 4th Avenue Station), 33d Street and Fourth Avenue, 42d Street and Madison Avenue (Grand Central Station), 42d Street and Broadway, 50th Street and Broadway, 60th Street and Broadway (Columbus Circle), 66th Street and Broadway, 72d Street and Broadway, 79th Street and Broadway, 86th Street and Broadway, 91st Street and Broadway, 96th Street and Broadway.


Image 17481
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Photo by: Detroit Publishing Co.
Collection of: Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division
Location: 28th Street

Image 17482
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Photo by: Detroit Publishing Co.
Collection of: Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division
Location: 28th Street

Image 17483
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Photo by: Detroit Publishing Co.
Collection of: Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division
Location: 28th Street



The stations of the Fort George or westerly branch are located at the following points:

One Hundred and Third Street and Broadway, 110th Street and Broadway (Cathedral Parkway), 116th Street and Broadway (Columbia University), Manhattan Street (near 128th Street) and Broadway, 137th Street and Broadway, 145th Street and Broadway, 157th Street and Broadway, the intersection of 168th Street, St. Nicholas Avenue and Broadway, 181st Street and Eleventh Avenue, Dyckman Street and Naegle Avenue (beyond Fort George), 207th Street and Amsterdam Avenue, 215th Street and Amsterdam Avenue, Muscoota Street and Broadway, Bailey Avenue, at Kingsbridge near the New York & Putnam Railroad station.

The stations on the Bronx Park or easterly branch are located at the following points:

One Hundred and Tenth Street and Lenox Avenue, 116th Street and Lenox Avenue, 125th Street and Lenox Avenue, 135th Street and Lenox Avenue, 145th Street and Lenox Avenue (spur), Mott Avenue and 149th Street, the intersection of 149th Street, Melrose, and Third Avenues, Jackson and Westchester Avenues, Prospect and Westchester Avenues, Westchester Avenue near Southern Boulevard (Fox Street), Freeman Street and the Southern Boulevard, intersection of 174th Street, Southern Boulevard and Boston Road, 177th Street and Boston Road (near Bronx Park).


Image 17496
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Photo by: IRT Company
Location: 28th Street

Image 17497
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Photo by: IRT Company
Location: 28th Street

Image 17498
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Photo by: IRT Company
Location: Interborough Subway



The stations in the Borough of Brooklyn on the Brooklyn Extension are located as follows:

Joralemon Street near Court (Brooklyn Borough Hall), intersection of Fulton, Bridge, and Hoyt Streets, Flatbush Avenue near Nevins Street, Atlantic Avenue and Flatbush Avenue (Brooklyn terminal of the Long Island Rail Road).

From the Borough Hall, Manhattan, to the 96th Street station, the line is four-track. On the Fort George branch (including 103d Street station) there are three tracks to 154th Street and then two tracks to Dyckman Street, then three tracks again to the terminus at Bailey Avenue. On the Bronx Park branch there are two tracks to Brook Avenue, and from that point to Bronx Park there are three tracks. On the Lenox Avenue spur to 148th Street there are two tracks, on the City Hall loop one track, on the Battery Park loop two tracks. The Brooklyn Extension is a two-track line.

There is a storage yard under Broadway between 137th Street and 145th Street on the Fort George Branch, another on the surface at the end of the Lenox Avenue spur, Lenox Avenue and 148th Street, and a third on an elevated structure at the Boston Road and 178th Street. There is a repair shop and inspection shed on the surface adjoining the Lenox Avenue spur at the Harlem River and 148-150th Streets, and an inspection shed in the storage yard at Boston Road and 178th Street.

Profile of
Manhattan and Bronx Lines


Map & Profile, Contract One Subway
Profile of
Brooklyn Extension


Map & Profile, Contract Two Subway

Length of Line

The total length of the line from the City Hall to the Kingsbridge terminal is 13.50 miles, with 47.11 miles of single track and sidings. The eastern or Bronx Park branch is 6.97 miles long, with 17.50 miles of single track.

The total length of the Brooklyn Extension is 3.1 miles, with about 8 miles of single track.

Grades and Curves

The grades and curvature along the main line may be summarized as follows:

The total curvature is equal in length to 23 per cent of the straight line, and the least radius of the curvature is 147 feet. The greatest grade is 3 per cent, and occurs on either side of the tunnel under the Harlem River. At each station there is a down grade of 2.1 per cent, to assist in the acceleration of the cars when they start. In order to make time on roads running trains at frequent intervals, it is necessary to bring the trains to their full speed very soon after starting. The electrical equipment of the Rapid Transit Railroad will enable this to be done in a better manner than is possible with steam locomotives, while these short acceleration grades at each station, on both up and down tracks, will be of material assistance in making the starts smooth.

Photograph on page 26 shows an interesting feature at a local station, where, in order to obtain the quick acceleration in grade for local trains, and at the same time maintain a level grade for the express service, the tracks are constructed at a different level. This occurs at many local stations.

On the Brooklyn Extension, the maximum grade is 3.1 per cent, descending from the ends to the center of the East River tunnel. The minimum radius of curve is 1,200 feet.


Image 17486
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Photo by: Detroit Publishing Co.
Collection of: Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division
Location: Interborough Subway

Image 17495
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Photo by: IRT Company
Location: Interborough Subway



The track is of the usual standard construction with broken stone ballast, timber cross ties, and 100-pound rails of the American Society of Civil Engineers' section. The cross ties are selected hard pine. All ties are fitted with tie plates. All curves are supplied with steel inside guard rails. The frogs and switches are of the best design and quality to be had, and a special design has been used on all curves. At the Battery loop, at Westchester Avenue, at 96th Street, and at City Hall loop, where it has been necessary for the regular passenger tracks to cross, grade crossings have been avoided; one track or set of tracks passing under the other at the intersecting points.

The contract for the building of the road contains the following somewhat unusual provision: "The railway and its equipment as contemplated by the contract constitute a great public work. All parts of the structure where exposed to public sight shall therefore be designed, constructed, and maintained with a view to the beauty of their appearance, as well as to their efficiency."

It may be said with exact truthfulness that the builders have spared no effort or expense to live up to the spirit of this provision, and that all parts of the road and equipment display dignified and consistent artistic effects of the highest order. These are noticeable in the power house and the electrical sub-stations and particularly in the passenger stations. It might readily have been supposed that the limited space and comparative uniformity of the underground stations would afford but little opportunity for architectural and decorative effects. The result has shown the fallacy of such a supposition.

Of the forty-eight stations, thirty-three are underground, eleven are on the viaduct portions of the road, and three are partly on the surface and partly underground, and one is partly on the surface and partly on the viaduct.


Image 17480
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Photo by: Detroit Publishing Co.
Collection of: Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division
Location: 23rd Street

Image 17493
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Photo by: IRT Company
Location: 23rd Street

Image 17494
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Photo by: IRT Company
Location: 59th Street/Columbus Circle



Space Occupied

The underground stations are at the street intersections, and, except in a few instances, occupy space under the cross streets. The station plans are necessarily varied to suit the conditions of the different locations, the most important factor in planning them having been the amount of available space. The platforms are from 200 to 350 feet in length, and about 16 feet in width, narrowing at the ends, while the center space is larger or smaller, according to local conditions. As a rule the body of the station extends back about 50 feet from the edge of the platform.

At all local stations (except at 110th and Lenox Avenue), the platforms are on the outside of the tracks. (Plan and photograph on pages 30 and 31.) At Lenox Avenue and 110th Street there is a single island platform for uptown and downtown passengers.


Image 17484
(180k, 1024x817)
Photo by: Detroit Publishing Co.
Collection of: Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division
Location: Brooklyn Bridge/City Hall

Image 17485
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Photo by: Detroit Publishing Co.
Collection of: Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division
Location: Brooklyn Bridge/City Hall

Image 17492
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Photo by: IRT Company
Location: 14th Street/Union Square



Island Platforms

At express stations there are two island platforms between the express and local tracks, one for uptown and one for downtown traffic. In addition, there are the usual local platforms at Brooklyn Bridge, 14th Street (photograph on page 34) and 96th Street. At the remaining express stations, 42d Street and Madison Avenue and 72d Street, there are no local platforms outside of the tracks, local and through traffic using the island platforms.

The island platforms at Brooklyn Bridge, 14th Street, and 42d Street and Madison Avenue are reached by mezzanine footways from the local platforms, it having been impossible to place entrances in the streets immediately over the platforms. At 96th Street there is an underground passage connecting the local and island platforms, and at 72d Street, there are entrances to the island platforms directly from the street because there is a park area in the middle of the street. Local passengers can transfer from express trains and express passengers from local trains without payment of additional fare by stepping across the island platforms.

At 72d Street, at 103d Street, and at 116th Street and Broadway, the station platforms are below the surface, but the ticket booths and toilet rooms are on the surface; this arrangement being possible also because of the park area available in the streets. At Manhattan Street, the platforms are on the viaduct, but the ticket booths and toilet rooms are on the surface. The viaduct at this point is about 68 feet above the surface, and escalators are provided. At many of the stations, entrances have been arranged from the adjacent buildings, in addition to the entrances originally planned from the street.

Kiosks

The entrances to the underground stations are enclosed by kiosks of cast iron and wire glass (photograph on page 33), and vary in number from two to eight at a station. The stairways are of concrete, reinforced by twisted steel rods. At 168th Street, and 181st Street, and at Mott Avenue, where the platforms are from 90 to 100 feet below the surface, elevators are provided.

At twenty of the underground stations it has been possible to use vault lights to such an extent that very little artificial light is needed. Such artificial light as is required is supplied by incandescent lamps sunk in the ceilings. Provision has been made for using the track circuit for lighting in emergency if the regular lighting circuit should temporarily fail.

The station floors are of concrete, marked off in squares. At the junction of the floors and side walls a cement sanitary cove is placed. The floors drain to catch-basins, and hose bibs are provided for washing the floors.

Two types of ceiling are used, one flat, which covers the steel and concrete of the roof, and the other arched between the roof beams and girders, the lower flanges of which are exposed. Both types have an air space between ceiling and roof, which, together with the air space between the inner side walls, permits air to circulate and minimizes condensation on the surface of the ceiling and walls.


Image 17487
(169k, 1024x823)
Photo by: Detroit Publishing Co.
Collection of: Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division
Location: 23rd Street

Image 17490
(324k, 1024x825)
Photo by: Detroit Publishing Co.
Collection of: Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division
Location: Times Square

Image 17491
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Photo by: IRT Company
Location: 59th Street/Columbus Circle



Decoration

Beaver The ceilings are separated into panels by wide ornamental mouldings, and the panels are decorated with narrower mouldings and rosettes. The bases of the walls are buff Norman brick. Above this is glass tile or glazed tile, and above the tile is a faience or terra-cotta cornice. Ceramic mosaic is used for decorative panels, friezes, pilasters, and name-tablets. A different decorative treatment is used at each station, including a distinctive color scheme. At some stations the number of the intersecting street or initial letter of the street name is shown in conspicuous plaques, at other stations the number or letter is in the panel. At some stations artistic emblems have been used in the scheme of decoration, as at Astor Place, the beaver; at Columbus Circle the great navigator's Caravel; at 116th Street, the seal of Columbia University. The walls above the cornice and the ceilings are finished in white Keene cement.

The ticket booths are of oak with bronze window grilles and fittings. There are toilet rooms in every station, except at the City Hall loop. Each toilet room has a free closet or closets, and a pay closet which is furnished with a basin, mirror, soap dish, and towel rack. The fixtures are porcelain, finished in dull nickel. The soil, vent, and water pipes are run in wall spaces, so as to be accessible. The rooms are ventilated through the hollow columns of the kiosks, and each is provided with an electric fan. They are heated by electric heaters. The woodwork of the rooms is oak; the walls are red slate wainscot and Keene cement.

Passengers may enter the body of the station without paying fare. The train platforms are separated from the body of the station by railings. At the more important stations, separate sets of entrances are provided for incoming and outgoing passengers, the stairs at the back of the station being used for entrances and those nearer the track being used for exits.

An example of the care used to obtain artistic effects can be seen at the City Hall station. The road at this point is through an arched tunnel. In order to secure consistency in treatment of the roof the station is continued by a larger arch of special design. At 168th Street, and at 181st Street, and at Mott Avenue, where the road is far beneath the surface, it has been possible to build massive arches over the stations with spans of 50 feet.


Image 17476
(164k, 1024x821)
Photo by: Detroit Publishing Co.
Collection of: Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division
Location: City Hall

Image 17477
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Photo by: Detroit Publishing Co.
Collection of: Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division
Location: City Hall

Image 17499
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Photo by: IRT Company
Location: City Hall

Image 17500
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Photo by: IRT Company
Location: City Hall

Image 17501
(26k, 537x288)
Photo by: IRT Company
Location: City Hall

Image 28419
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Photo by: IRT Company
Location: 59th Street/Columbus Circle



Editors Note: Additional photos from the Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division, Detroit Publishing Company Collection have been added to this document where appropriate. The Library of Congress is not aware of any U.S. copyright or any other restrictions in the photographs in this collection.









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