IND Second System - 1929 Plan

From nycsubway.org

Compiled from SubTalk posts by Joe Raskin, Bobby, and others, November, 1997.

Having read about the unbuilt IND Second System, and having been particularly intrigued by the enormous never-used station shell at S. 4th St. Brooklyn, I went to my local library and looked up the New York Times from September 16, 1929, the day the plans for the Second System were first made public. This was a front page story, and carries a significant amount of detail about this project. Interestingly, it also states that the total projected cost would be $438,000,000. That's not a lot by today's standards, but bear in mind that the entire IND First System cost $338,000,000. In addition, the article states that the $438,000,000 does NOT include acquisition of private property, financing costs (e.g. the cost of issuing bonds), equipment costs and "other additional items". Total cost was estimated at $800,000,000. Plans for how this was to be financed were not outlined, and this makes one wonder how serious these plans were, although they were quite detailed. In any event, the ensuing stock market crash and Depression no doubt wiped them out entirely. What was included:


  • Second Avenue Subway: From Pine and Water Sts, via Water St., Pearl St., New Bowery, Chrystie St., Second Ave. 2 tracks to Chambers St., 4 tracks to 61st St., 6 tracks to 125th St., 4 tracks to the Harlem river, with connection to Bronx lines as outlined in the Bronx section below.
  • 61st Street Subway: Connection from Sixth Ave line at 52nd St. to 61st St. and Second Ave, 2 tracks. No Queens connection at this point is outlined in the original plan.
  • Worth St. Line: Connection from bellmouth in tunnels south of Canal (the 8th Avenue local tracks to WTC) to S. 4th St. Brooklyn, via Worth St., East Broadway and Grand St., 2 tracks. This would use a separate river tunnel from the Houston St. line below, and the two river tunnels would meet at the enormous S. 4th St. junction.
  • Houston St. Line: From the stub end tracks at Second Avenue of today's F train to a new river tunnel, separate from the above line, meeting at S. 4th St., 2 tracks.

These proposals explain many of the provisions for transfers outlined in Joe Brennan's outstanding list, including the stubs at Second Avenue, the room for a line at East Broadway, etc. All of these lines were subway.


  • Boston Road Line: From the Second Avenue Line, 4 tracks under the river to Alexander Avenue, passing 149th St. and Third Avenue, then northeasterly to the intersection of Elton, Brook and Washington Aves., then to Boston Road at the junction of that thoroughfare with 163rd St. and Third Ave. Here, 2 tracks would branch off as outlined below. The Boston Road line would continue with 2 tracks along Boston Road to 177th St. At that point the subway would emerge onto an el, continue through the 180th St. yard, and use the White Plains Rd. line, (which would be modified to B division standards). A Morris Park Avenue Line would arise from this line in the 180th St. yard as well (outlined below). This entire line would be 4 tracks.
  • 163rd St-Hunts Point, Lafayette Ave Line: 2 tracks branching off the Boston Road trunk line, curving east as a subway along 163rd St., and then Garrison Ave, emerging as an el at Edgewater Road and Seneca Ave., across the Bronx River, then along Lafayette Avenue for several miles to East Tremont Ave at East 177th St. This would include a transfer with the Pelham line at Hunts Point Avenue. The line would serve the extreme East Bronx (i.e. near the Bruckner interchange and on to Throgs Neck).
  • Concourse Line Extension: From 205th and Bainbridge, along Burke Avenue to Boston Road, and then along Boston Road approx 2 miles to Baychester Avenue, 2 tracks. This would thus be an east-west Bronx line heading in the direction of today's Co-op City, and would include a transfer with the White Plains Road line at Burke Avenue.
  • Morris Park Avenue-Wilson Avenue Line: 2 tracks northeasterly along Morris Park Avenue (does not say whether this would be el or subway), and then north along Wilson Avenue to Boston Road to meet the Concourse Line extension and continue to Baychester Avenue and Boston Road.

An extensive knowledge of Bronx geography, or a map, helps enormously in envisioning these lines. Clearly, parts of the Lafayette Ave. line duplicate the Pelham line (which was then run by the competing IRT), but there are areas of the East Bronx that are not served today that would have been had the line been built. The Morris Park Avenue Line was clearly planned without knowing that the NYW&B would become available for rapid transit use.


  • Liberty Avenue Line: Extension of the A, then under construction. 4 tracks from Eastern Pkwy/Broadway Junction along Liberty Avenue to about Wyona Avenue, and then 3 tracks along the Liberty Avenue el from Grant Avenue to Lefferts Blvd. But, it didn't end there. The Second System would have made great strides in serving parts of Queens not served at all today (see details of Queens lines below). The Liberty Avenue line would have been extended along Liberty Avenue and then Brinckerhoff Avenue and Hollis Avenues all the way to Springfield Blvd., a distance of 6.2 miles. 3 tracks would have been present to 180th St., and 2 tracks from there to Springfield Blvd. There would have been a short 2 track spur running along 180th St. and then Jamaica Avenue to connect to the end of the Jamaica el at 168th St. Presumably, all beyond Lefferts Blvd. would be an el, but that is not specified. This line is sort of what the Archer Avenue line was supposed to be, as there would also have been a transfer to a line tying-in with the Queens Blvd. IND running down Van Wyck Blvd. That line would have also gone (as a separate line) to SE Queens (see Queens details below).
  • South 4th Street-Utica Avenue Line: This would have gone (as subway) from the Houston St. river tunnel to Grand St. in Williamsburg, southeasterly to S. 4th St. and Driggs Ave., then along S. 4th Street (easterly and parallel to Broadway), then along Union Avenue and then Beaver Street to turn south along Stuyvesant Avenue until moving to Utica Avenue at approximately Fulton Street (where the never-used shell is in place today). The Utica Avenue Line would then have continued as subway to Avenue I, emerged as an el and continued to Avenue S, where it would have moved to Nostrand Avenue and continued to its terminal at Voorhies Avenue in Sheepshead Bay. There would have been 2 tracks from the river to the S. 4th St. junction, then 8 tracks (!!) (two levels of 4 tracks, with the other level for the Myrtle-Central-Rockaway line outlined below), to the cut-off for the Stuyvesant-Utica line, then 4 tracks to Avenue S, then 2 tracks with a provision for expansion to 4 to Voorhies Ave.
  • River Tunnel - Worth Street Line: This line (see Manhattan above) would have continued as 2 tracks under Broadway Brooklyn and then southeasterly to the S. 4th St. junction. So, S. 4th Street would have been the junction of two river tunnels, with a transfer to the GG, and would have given rise to two major trunk lines heading east. It's not impossible to envision this station as the most complicated in the system, like Hoyt-Schermerhorn, but with as many, or more, connections as Queens Plaza. Depending on how flexible they wanted service to be, the track connections here could have been incredible. Despite being in a relative backwater location (although Williamsburg, especially then, was an area of importance), it would have been quite busy.
  • IRT Nostrand Ave. Line: A plan to extend the IRT Nostrand Avenue Line as a 2 track subway to Kings Highway, and then as an el to meet the Utica Avenue Line at Avenue S was also included. Presumably, this would have been a transfer and not a direct track connection since there would be A and B division lines meeting here.
  • Myrtle Avenue-Central Avenue-Rockaway Line: At Stuyvesant Avenue, where the Utica Avenue Line would turn south, this line would continue east as a subway along Bushwick Avenue, Myrtle Avenue, and then Central Avenue to about 73rd Place, where it would emerge and then follow the LIRR Montauk Division. It would have continued to the LIRR Rockaway Branch and then turned south through Forest Park, and continued south to Jamaica Bay. It would have been 4 tracks to Howard Beach, then 2 tracks. It would then cross Jamaica Bay and the islands paralleling Cross Bay Blvd to a point on the Rockaway peninsula near Hammels Avenue and Beach 83rd St. The line would have gone to Beach 149th Street to the south (not Beach 116th St.; it would have extended the line along Newport Avenue for 1.6 miles), and Mott Avenue to the North. These would have been 2 track lines in Rockaway, as they are today. A cross-connection to the IND Queens Blvd. line (the Winfield Spur below), was also proposed, so Rockaway passengers could get to midtown as well as downtown Manhattan. In addition, a 120th Avenue line serving SE Queens and linking to the Van Wyck Blvd. line would have come off the main Rockaway line at North Conduit Avenue (see below in Queens section).

Some of these lines would have paralleled existing Brooklyn els, and one wonders if the plan was for the els to be demolished once the new lines were constructed.


  • Winfield Spur: This was designed to provide through service to the Rockaways from midtown, and also to serve the neighborhoods of Maspeth and Ridgewood. It would have been a two track line arising from the Roosevelt Avenue station (the never-used upper level station, but also would have track connections to the main line), and curving southeasterly between 78th and 79th Sts. to Queens Blvd., then along the LIRR ROW into Garfield Avenue to 65th Place, then along 65th Place to Fresh Pond Road, and then along Fresh Pond Rd and Cypress Hills Avenue to a connection with the Central Avenue line outlined above. The line would be 2 tracks, and would be subway to 45th Avenue, then elevated to Fresh Pond Road, then subway again to Central Avenue. In looking at the map, the rationale for the circuitous route becomes a little more apparent, since it appears to skirt some large cemeteries, thus staying in the residential/commercial areas.
  • 120th Avenue Line: Arising from the Rockaway line, this would have run for 5.23 miles east along 120th Avenue and then Springfield Blvd. to Foch Blvd. It would have been 4 tracks to its junction with the Van Wyck Blvd. line (see below), and then 2 tracks. Obviously, it would have served parts of southeast Queens that have no rapid transit service at present, yet badly need it. It would have been an elevated line throughout.
  • Van Wyck Boulevard Line: Utilizing the track connection later taken by today's Archer Avenue Line, this would have arisen from the Queens Blvd IND, and continued as subway along Van Wyck Blvd 166th Avenue, and then as elevated to its junction with the 120th Avenue Line at Rockaway Blvd. This line would have been 2 tracks.
  • Flushing Line Extension: This line would have been extended as subway along Roosevelt Avenue to 150th St., and then would have emerged and followed the LIRR Port Washington ROW to 221st St. and 38th Avenue. It would have been 3 tracks to 155th St., then 2 tracks. In addition, a two track line would have branched off at 147th St. and Roosevelt Avenue and run along 149th St. running as subway to 35th Avenue and then as elevated (if you know this area, you know it would be very different with an el along 149th St.!), to 11th Avenue, at which point it would turn and follow 11th Avenue to 122nd Street in College Point. These additions would thus provide service to Murray Hill, Auburnadale, Bayside, Whitestone and College Point.
  • Astoria Line Extension: This would have curved east along Ditmars Blvd., Astoria Blvd., 112th St., and then diagonally across intervening streets and the Flushing River to Nassau Blvd. for several miles to Cross Island Blvd. (Francis Lewis Blvd.) This line would have been entirely elevated, with two tracks to Astoria Blvd., then 4 tracks to Parsons and Nassau Blvds. (Nassau is now the LIE service road), and then 2 tracks to its terminus. Broad areas of Queens including Steinway, East Elmhurst, Kew Garden Hills and Fresh Meadows that are not served by rapid transit today would have had direct subway access.

According to the article, if these lines were all built, only about 42 of Queens' 100 square miles would be left without rapid transit service, and much of that territory is mostly shorefront. Certainly, Queens would be very different if these lines had been built. Service would have been much better, but the areas would probably have been more densely built up as well.

Staten Island

Nothing proposed, although a proposed vehicular Narrows Tunnel was included in the proposal, although separate funding was to be obtained.

Other Comments

What did other newspapers have to say? The Bronx Home News acted as if World War III was about to take place (actually, at that point, it would have been World War II). They were strongly protesting the fact that a lot of the East Bronx services would have involved the construction of elevated subways, something they viewed with horror. The Brooklyn Eagle reported a similar reaction from the communities at the south end of the Utica Avenue line and the Nostrand Avenue extension. The Queens papers (the Long Island Press and the predecessors to the Queens Tribune and the other current weeklies) were largely positive, although they also reported that people in Ridgewood thought that they weren't going to get enough additional services (extensions from Queens Boulevard, 6th Avenue, and 8th Avenue wasn't enough?), people in College Point weren't happy with the route of the extension of the Flushing line, and people who live out beyond the end of the Hillside Avenue line didn't like the fact that the Queens Boulevard line wasn't being extended from 179th Street. Ultimately, beyond the financial problems brought on by the Depression, as well as the onset of World War II, I also don't think that there was enough political will to build the second system.

Many (but perhaps not all) of the routes described in this list are shown in one of the maps available in the book Twelve Historical New York City Street and Transit Maps. One of the maps included in this book is a "wish list" map put out by the City's engineers. It shows the plans for expanding the system during the 1920's.

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