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Using an unusually luxurious style of architecture along with colored glass tile work, beautiful skylights and dignified brass chandeliers, the station was undoubtedly unique. By 1945, only around 600 people per day were being served by the elegantly appointed station. Rather than undertaking a very costly renovation of the station which was hardly used by the public, the city decided to close it down. Recently, the MTA changed the rules to allow passengers to ride through the gorgeous City Hall station. Known as one of the best cinematic directors in history, 17-year-old Stanley Kubrick’s talent for imagery was first truly recognized for his photography of New York City subways.
Original rolling stock at the original downtown local terminus of the 8th Avenue Independent Subway.
Saturday, September 10th, 1932 marked a major milestone in the continuing evolution of the New York City Subway. Around the time the Independent was first conceived, in 1920, there was severe overcrowding on the subways. A line from 125th Street (near today's Henry Hudson Pkwy) crosstown, to and across the East River, to Astoria, Queens, likely connecting to the BMT Astoria Line.
A new subway line, sometimes two tracked, sometimes four tracked, from approximately the Hunters Point Ave station on today's Flushing Line in Queens, heading in a southeasterly direction to Lafayette Avenue, Brooklyn. A 4-track subway line from Brooklyn's Borough Hall via the Lafayette Avenue subway to Bedford Avenue. A new IRT branch off the IRT's Eastern Parkway line in Brooklyn onto Utica Avenue, running under Utica to Flatlands Avenue. A 4-track subway under Flatbush Avenue in Brooklyn to Nostrand Ave, to Emmons Avenue in Sheepshead Bay, turning west onto Emmons Ave. The Transit Commission labeled Hylan's plan as ridiculous and, politics as they were in New York City at the time, there was no movement on the issue of transit overcrowding through the remainder of 1922 and all of 1923.
A line running along 53rd St., under the East River into Long Island City, then via Queens Boulevard to Jamaica.
A report, "Proposed Subway Plan for Subway Relief and Expansion" by Major Philip Mathews, published on December 24th, 1926, did not agree with the Board of Transportation's basic plan. There would be no benefit to Brooklyn riders at all; congestion in Brooklyn would not be addressed. Crowding along the Third Ave El, the Pelham and White Plains Road lines in the Bronx would not be alleviated.
Connect the 8th Avenue line to the BMT Southern Division lines using a link from Wall or Fulton Streets to Chambers Street. Build a four-track 3rd Avenue subway (IRT clearances) from City Hall to a connection with the White Plains and Pelham Bay Park lines. Creation of a four-track Brooklyn-Queens crosstown line designed for extension into Staten Island and the Bronx. Creation of a Queens subway line from Jamaica to 8th Avenue, Manhattan, facilitating transfers to the Brooklyn Crosstown line and to all north and south lines in Manhattan.
The Ashland Place connection was a proposed linkup between the BMT Fulton Street El and the BMT 4th Avenue subway at Ashland Place. In 1968, the New York City Transit Authority opened the Chrystie Street connection, discussed further below in the history of the IND. DeKalb Avenue (and the Manhattan Bridge) continues to be a source of congestion for riders of the BMT Southern Division, the Chrystie Street connection notwithstanding, to this very day. During the construction of the municipal subway, New Yorkers grew tired of Hylan's pontificating against the "traction interests". On September 15th, 1929, with construction of the municipal subway going "full speed ahead", plans were announced for another wave of expansion - the so-called "second system". A new line would start at Chambers Street, terminal of the 8th Avenue Subway, forming a "loop" subway that would head back uptown under 2nd Avenue.
Boston Road Line: From the Second Avenue Line, starting at Alexander Avenue, via 3rd and Melrose Avenues to Boston Road in West Farms. The Concourse Line would be extended from 205th Street, from Webster and Burke Avenues to Baychester Avenue via Boston Road. Morris Park Avenue-Wilson Avenue Line: 2 tracks northeasterly along Morris Park and then north along Wilson Avenue to Boston Road to meet the Concourse Line extension and continue to Baychester Avenue and Boston Road. Winfield Spur: This was designed to provide through service to the Rockaways from midtown, and also to serve the neighborhoods of Maspeth and Ridgewood. 120th Avenue Line: Connecting to and terminating at the Rockaway Line at North Conduit Blvd and Hawtree St (roughly today's Cross Bay Blvd), this line would run east along 120th Avenue and then Springfield Blvd. Van Wyck Boulevard Line: Utilizing the track connection later taken by today's Archer Avenue Line (this point was known as the "Van Wyck stub"), this would have run as subway to about 166th Avenue, then as elevated to its junction with the 120th Avenue Line at Rockaway Blvd. Flushing Line Extensions: Two extensions of the Flushing Line were proposed, both starting from Main Street. The Worth Street Line described above would also enter the South 4th Street station facilitating transfers with the Utica Ave line. There was no provision for a subway line to Staten Island in this plan, but there were two proposed vehicular tunnels: one connecting Queens and the West Side of Manhattan at 38th Street and the other at approximately the same spot where the Verrazano Narrows Bridge stands today. Joseph McKee, president of the Board of Alderman in 1929, was not in favor of the elevated portions in the outer boroughs. American Car & Foundry-built R-1 number 107, being delivered at 207th Street Yard in August, 1931.
In late April of 1930, the 8th Avenue trunk line was nearing completion, and the contract for the municipal subway's rolling stock was awarded to the American Car and Foundry Company (ACF) of Berwick, Pennsylvania.
The 8th Avenue Subway, as it became to be called because the 8th Avenue trunk line was the first to open, was an initial system of 57 route miles. On September 8th, 1932, the only "official" act of the "opening ceremonies", an inspection train, was due to leave Chambers Street at 3pm. Also by this time, the public had been hearing the trains rumbling beneath them running simulated schedules, but not taking on passengers. Finally, on September 10th, 1932, at midnight, the Independent City-Owned Rapid Transit Railroad (as it's official title) opened for revenue passengers.
The new subway required 1,000,000 cubic yards of concrete, enough for a highway such as the Bronx River Parkway (in 1932) from the City to Albany. Just like the opening of the IRT, where on opening day there was a report of a crime, there was also some vandalism on the Independent's opening day. Because of financial troubles, which became political troubles, there was no further Independent expansion in 1934 and 1935.
On May 26th, 1937, the Board of Transportation announced that the Court Street Shuttle would be closed (but it was not actually closed until June 1st, 1946). So looking only at the financial constraints on building a second Independent system, the City was ill-prepared to acquire enormous additional debt at a time when it was beginning its long upward spiral of social service spending. Of the routes approved by the Board of Transportation in the 1920s, only the 6th Avenue trunk route was still unfinished as of 1937.
During construction, streetcar service along 6th Avenue was terminated, with the city having the option to restore it upon termination of construction, or outright abandon it. The World's Fair Railroad ran test trains on the line starting April 22nd, 1939, and a full schedule was simulated the day before the Fair opened. The 1939 World's Fair had one season in 1939, before unification, and one in 1940, after unification. Hindsight being what it is, the spur could have served another World's Fair in 1964 and 1965, at the very same location!
The first municipally operated BMT train left Times Square at 12:08am with Mayor LaGuardia and officials of the BMT, Board of Transportation and Transit Commission. Regarding the IRT, as part of the Unification deal, the 2nd Ave El north of 59th Street and the 9th Ave Els in Manhattan would close forever at 12:01am on June 12th, 1940. Exactly two years after Unification of the IRT, its 2nd Ave El closed completely between Chatham Square, Manhattan and Queens Plaza on June 13th, 1942. In the years 1938 (before Unification) and 1940 (after Unification), the Board of Transportation put forth revised plans for additional lines. For the Bronx, three ideas were proposed - connecting the remnant of the 9th Ave El at 155th St with the IRT Lenox Ave Line, rehabilitating the abandoned New York, Westchester and Boston ROW and connecting it to the IRT Pelham Line, and extending the IND Concourse Line eastward towards Gun Hill Road.
For Manhattan, the Second Avenue Subway was still on the drawing board, having a northern terminal at Harding Ave in the Bronx, and connecting into the IND Court Street shuttle in Brooklyn. In Queens, a connection at 11th St would join the BMT's 60th Street tunnel to the IND Queens Line's local tracks at Queens Plaza.
In Brooklyn, a new IND division line would run from Houston St (via Essex St) to Utica Ave, then Flatbush Avenue, and terminate at Avenue U. Finally, Staten Island was not forgotten, although this portion of the plan wasn't really new. Amid all the proposals, funding was appropriated for extension of the Bronx Concourse Line beyond its current 205th Street terminal. Shiny new station at Euclid Avenue on the IND Fulton Street Line, just prior to service beginning on the extended line, November 23, 1948.
World War II put a stop to any expansion plans that were put forth by the Board of Transportation in 1940.
The post-war period saw some more subway expansion, but most of it was done on IND Division lines. The Board of Transportation ceased to exist on June 25th, 1953, replaced by the New York City Transit Authority (the TA). Probably one of the longest subway mileage expansions since the inception of the IND Division, expansion to the Rockaways, occurred because the TA was given a deal that it basically couldn't pass up. Patronage was not as high as both railroads would have liked, so to improve ridership, the BRT extended its line across the Williamsburgh Bridge to Delancey Street.
The opening of Pennsylvania Station and World War I caused patronage to slide, and this shared service ended on September 3rd, 1917.
After World War I, plans were put forth to convert the line to rapid transit as well as eliminate grade crossings on the Rockaway Beach branch and other LIRR lines. In the late 40s, the wooden trestles over Jamaica Bay seemed more prone to fires that "usual"; finally, on May 8th, 1950, a major fire destroyed significant portions of the structure. On September 5th, 1952, the TA purchased the Rockaway Beach branch and the line in the Rockaways within the City limits from the LIRR for $8.5 million, considered a "steal" at the time. Despite a strike at Westinghouse that threatened late delivery of electrical equipment, the TA met its milestone. For a time, the Rockaway Line was considered a separate division of the NYC Transit System, called the Rockaway Division.
One of the last subway expansion plans put forth by the Board of Transportation was a connection between the BMT and IND in lower Manhattan. Also part of this project was the lengthening of BMT platforms to 10 car lengths for lines that would be affected by the Chrystie Street connection.
In November of 1951, a bond issue passed that enabled this work, as well as the completion of the IND 6th Avenue express tracks between West 4th and 34th Street, to begin.
A Fan Trip using the Budd R-11 cars stops at Grand Street on the Chrystie Street connection. First scheduled for March 1967, then May, the Chrystie Street connection opened on November 26th, 1967, affecting nearly every BMT and IND line in the city. The first train affected by the vast subway service changes was a RR local leaving 95th Street at 12:08am, initiating a new weekend service.
The first few weekdays of the revised services caused massive confusion for both riders and train crews. The Chrystie Street connection and the service changes that occurred because of it formed the backbone of most of the lines we know today. Aggressive completion of the 63rd Street tunnel (at the time this project was already planned) as well as the connections to the IND 6th Ave. A super-express bypass for the IND Queens Blvd line, running along the LIRR main line that would leave the Queens Blvd. The Second Avenue Subway from 34th St to the Bronx, with a connection to the 63rd St tunnel. The IRT Division would see its Nostrand Avenue line extended along Flatbush Avenue in Brooklyn to Avenue U. The massive pumping out effort on New York's inundated underground infrastructure could take up to four days, Metropolitan Transportation Authority officials were warning Tuesday as the process of assessing the massive damage caused by Hurricane Sandy began.
Additionally MTA says all subway trains (most of which were moved away from high-risk areas in advance) will need inspecting, along with 6,200 subway cars, 600 miles of track and 468 subway stations. In the period of a few hours on Monday (October 29), at the height of the so-called superstorm, seven East River subway tubes including two Long Island Rail Road tubes linking Manhattan with Queens, and four traffic tunnels were inundated by a wall of water. MTA also confirmed three subway yards and six bus depots were submerged with water, and South Ferry Station was reported as one of several "floor-to-ceiling" with water. Most of the flood waters are thought to be seawater that came as a result of a storm surge, rather than rainwater.
In a statement yesterday (Wednesday October 31) Lhota painted a grim picture of the recovery effort that faces MTA and the Port Authority in the coming weeks. Early meteorological predictions of the arrival of Hurricane Sandy on the USA's eastern seaboard gave New York's MTA time to secure assets on the under-construction East Side Access and 2nd Avenue subway tunnels, but by Sunday - with a state of emergency having already been declared (October 28) a decision was taken to lock down all public transport including the New York subway. Sandbags and temporary barricades were installed in some subway locations in an effort to prevent or minimize water ingress prior to the onset of the hurricane, with MTA claiming that an aqua barrier at Penn Street Station had helped reduce flooding levels at that site.
In the event the oncoming hurricane combined with two wintry systems to become a superstorm that arrived head-on into New York City on Monday (October 29) - at a time that unfortunately coincided with high tide thereby exacerbating the situation. As power outages left a reported 600,000 people stranded in their homes in the dark MTA, the New York and New Jersey Port Authority (which manages the Holland and Lincoln traffic tunnels that connect Manhattan with the New Jersey mainland under the Hudson River), and the city Mayor's office relied on regular Twitter and social networking feeds to keep residents updated and informed of the latest situation. By Wednesday (October 31), as the storm petered out, dramatic pictures and video of the flooding showed the extent of the damage.
As a partial bus service resumed, the damaged subway system looks set to be closed for at least the next few days as a full assessment of the damage is made. Earlier, prior to the worst of the storm on Monday, New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, speaking at the Office of Emergency Management in Brooklyn on Sunday, prepared New Yorkers for the expected impact but said all that could have been done to protect the city's transportation assets had been done.
By Wednesday (October 31) the Lincoln Tunnel - which was open and closed at various intervals throughout the storm - was open, but the Hugh L Carey and Holland tunnels remained closed to traffic. On Wednesday (October 31), as the full extent of the damage was being assessed, New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg pointed to the "enormous" effort that will be required to restore the subway and its heavily flooded tunnels and rail yards. He told New Yorkers at a press conference: "In addition to the lives we lost, the damage we suffered across the city is clearly extensive - and it will not be repaired overnight. It was opened in 1904 as the southern terminal of the Manhattan Main Line (which is now part of the IRT Lexington Avenue Line). Although it was the focus of the subway system groundbreaking ceremony in 1904, City Hall station eventually fell into disuse. As the trains grew longer and added doors in the middle of the cars, the City Hall platforms were no longer suitable. Although the station is still closed to passengers, you can get a glimpse of the former glory of this interesting piece of New York history by sitting back and relaxing while the number 6 makes it loop.
Without fanfare, or any major city ceremony, the Independent City Owned Rapid Transit Railroad (the Independent) opened at midnight that weekend. His plan included "capturing" (or taking over) nearly 100 miles of existing lines and building over 100 miles of new lines.
From there it was three tracks to Broadway (Brooklyn) to Cypress Hills, where the line would continue on the present-day BMT Nassau Street-Jamaica Line. Senator James Walker sponsored legislation to abolish the Transit Commission and another bill to permit the city to borrow additional funds for subway construction. It differed slightly from Hylan's 1922 proposals in that there would be two trunk lines, one under 8th Avenue and the other under 6th Avenue, and the 6th Ave. The Independent's only line in the Bronx, planned along Grand Concourse, would alleviate congestion on the Jerome Ave line (although Hylan really wanted it torn down).
In the other direction, the line would run from City Hall to Wall Street, then across the East River to the IRT near Franklin Avenue. Mathews' proposals actually were considered in later years, though not quite in the manner he laid out. It would have alleviated some of the congestion of the BMT Southern Division through DeKalb Avenue; in 1924, the BMT Brighton, Culver and West End Els, as well as the Sea Beach Line and 4th Avenue Subway, all sent their 16 tracks into DeKalb Avenue. Not only was it intended to unify the BMT and IND divisions, it was also meant to alleviate the same congestion the BMT was trying to address back in 1924. The municipal subway would adopt the same specifications of the BMT, eventually enabling subway cars of the municipal line to run on the BMT and vice versa. This change was made for economic reasons - it was cheaper to bridge the canal than it was to tunnel under it. Unlike the building of the IRT, which was, for the most part, manual labor, the Independent was built with more modern technology. At a cost of $438.4 million to build (in 1929 dollars, not including costs such as real estate acquisition or financing), the "second system" of 100 route miles (294 track miles) would serve every borough except Staten Island.
And there was a "third plan" that would be in the works, but not for another 10 years, that would extend subway lines to the City limits, as well as additional branches and feeder links to major trunk lines. A new river tunnel would be built and linked up with a proposed South 4th Street junction in Brooklyn.

This line would be 4 tracks to Boston Road at the junction of that thoroughfare with 163rd St.
It would have been a two-track line from Roosevelt Avenue to a connection with the Central Avenue line outlined below.
The first was an extension along Roosevelt Avenue (in 1929 called Station Road) to 155th St as a subway, then as elevated above the LIRR Port Washington ROW to 221st St. It would have continued to the LIRR Rockaway Branch and then turned south through Forest Park at 98th St, and continued south to Jamaica Bay. It would run along Worth Street, East Broadway, Grand Street (Manhattan) and under the East River to Broadway in Brooklyn. 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. He felt it would depreciate property values and slow business and residential development, and used the IRT Jerome Ave El as an example. The contract number was R-1, and to this day, new contacts for rolling stock have followed this nomenclature. It boasted the longest subway station in the world at the time -- 42nd St and 8th Ave was nearly 1,200 feet long.
There weren't any successful bids for private operation of the first line, so the City became a subway operator. 150,000 tons of steel was used, or three times the amount required to build the Empire State Building.
Vandals "broke into" some of the uptown stations and clogged turnstile slots with gum and other objects.
During this expansion into Queens, the LIRR attempted to negotiate the sale of its Rockaway Beach branch to the Independent. And the original plans that became known as the IND Second System were continuously scaled back due to growing expenses. There was good reason - this line would have to tunnel over or under an aqueduct, the BMT Broadway Line, the Long Island Rail Road and Pennsylvania Railroad in the vicinity of 34th St, the Hudson & Manhattan Railroad (also known as the Hudson Tubes, and now called the PATH), the IRT Flushing Line, and the 6th Avenue El. El, on September 22nd, 1935, an "announcement" was made that New York City would hold a World's Fair in 1939, an idea that became very popular very quickly. It may have also been used to provide new service to a new Ebbets Field that was also proposed near that site in the '50s. There were no special ceremonies held for the closing of these lines, even though the 9th Ave El was the first elevated rapid transit line in the world, starting service on July 1st, 1868 between Cortlandt Street and Battery Place.
The West of Central Park Association held a reception at the Hotel Empire at 63rd St in honor of razing the 2nd Ave El.
The BMT lines became the BMT Division, the IRT lines became the IRT Division and the Independent became the IND Division. These were the first plans to affect all three divisions of the New York City Transit System. The 6th Ave line would get express service between West 4th St and 34th Street and an extension to 145th Street via Central Park and Morningside Drive. The IRT Flushing Line would be extended underground, through an embankment and open cut to Bell Blvd and via an El to College Point. The IRT Nostrand Avenue line would be extended to Voorhies Avenue in Sheepshead Bay, as subway to Ave T and elevated from there to Voorhies Avenue. Dating back to the 1913 Dual Contracts, this plan would run a subway under the Narrows to the Staten Island Rapid Transit. However, Bronx residents favored rehabilitation of the New York, Westchester and Boston line from the city limits at Dyre Ave, abandoned since December 31st, 1937.
The Fulton Street Line was extended to Broadway-East New York on December 30th, 1946, followed by an extension to Euclid Avenue on November 29th, 1948. This time, the line would run to 138th St in the Bronx, and a branch would be connected to the IRT Pelham Line.
Yet rapid transit service had already run on this line going as far back as July 1898 during the early days of LIRR ownership, when the Rockaway Line was known as the New York and Rockaway Beach, or more simply, the LIRR Rockaway Beach branch.
The connection consisted of a ramp from the El down to the LIRR tracks on the surface of Atlantic Ave, and service ran only during the summer months. It also strengthened the Broadway El between the bridge and Chestnut Street, allowing the use of steel cars. The concrete viaduct in the Rockaways was built to rapid transit specifications and completed in 1942. The LIRR was not in solid financial shape at that time, and decided not to rebuild the line.
Connections to the IND Houston Street line and the BMT lines crossing the Manhattan and Williamsburgh Bridges would provide BMT trains direct access to 6th Avenue. Compounding these problems were two power outages on November 28th affecting the IRT Flushing Line and BMT Astoria Lines, requiring reroutes of trains that were just permanently "re-routed".
In addition, the BMT's system of one-way rush hour traffic was forever changed, with lines combined or lengthened. The portion of the line from 63rd St, Manhattan to 138th St, the Bronx, would be built as two tracks, with provisions to expand it to four tracks "easily".
Officials say pumping out this and other flooded subway stations and underground facilities will be just the start of a programme that will necessitate an engineering inspection of all tunnels affected by the record 13.7ft storm surge accompanying Monday's ferocious storm.
This will hamper the recovery effort, and potentially be very damaging for inundated electrical systems. This will not be a short process, but it will be one that puts safety as its major focus," said Lhota. MTA released video footage of flood waters pouring into one of its LIRR tunnels linking Queens and Manhattan across the East River.
Con Ed (New York's primary utility company) and MTA have intelligently moved their equipment out of harm's way. Located beneath the public area in front of City Hall, the station has always been considered the most beautiful in the city.
There were now unsafe gaps between the train cars and the platform; in other stations, the platforms were rebuilt or extended, but this wasn’t an option in the tightly-curved City Hall station. Legend has it that, as a young locomotive engineer for the Brooklyn Rapid Transit Company (BRT, predecessor to the BMT), he was fired because he exceeded the posted speed operating his train around a curve. Loop]], the Coney Island Complex, and completion of the BMT Canarsie Line (then known as the 14th St.
The legislation didn't go over very well, but a compromise was reached regarding abolishing the Transit Commission.
Have the Second Avenue elevated come only as far as Queens Plaza, which will be a free transfer point to all lines.
He was also against the idea of two fare zones, where some people in the outer boroughs were required to pay to transfer to the other company's lines to get to and from work.
But it was planned by the BMT, and with John Hylan in office, any construction and expansion by any private rapid transit operator would be prohibited.
But only six tracks would come out -- two via the Montague Street tunnel to the BMT Broadway subway and four over the Manhattan Bridge -- two to the BMT Broadway Subway at Canal Street and two to the Centre Street Loop, terminating at Chambers Street. The subway plans were revised to build a line under Fulton Street in Brooklyn, essentially making the Fulton St. If the equipment wasn't steam powered, it was either powered by compressed air or electricity.
The "hub" of this system would be a new Second Avenue subway that would feed the Bronx from northern Manhattan and have new East River tubes into Brooklyn on its other end.
The "loop" would be 2 tracks at the southern tip of Manhattan from Pine St to Chambers St, and then would continue as 4 tracks to 61st St., 6 tracks to 125th St. A new river tunnel would be built and linked up with the same South 4th Street junction as the Worth Street line.
From there, it would run under the Bronx River to Lafayette Ave and run along Lafayette Ave to East Tremont Ave. It would include transfers with the White Plains Road line at Burke Avenue as well as the Morris Park -- Wilson Ave line at Boston Road. The line would have run as a 4 track subway to Grant Ave, 3 track elevated to 180th St., and 2 track elevated to Springfield Blvd. It would be 4 tracks to Van Wyck Blvd, where a transfer to the Van Wyck Blvd line could be made, and 2 tracks to Foch Blvd. It would have been two tracks to Astoria Blvd., then 4 tracks to Parsons and Nassau Blvds, and then 2 tracks to its terminus. It would have been 4 tracks to Howard Beach, then 2 tracks to Hammels Ave in the Rockaways. It would then run to the proposed South 4th Street junction, then along South 4th Street and Union Ave to Beaver Street. The portion of the line between South 4th Street and Bushwick Ave would be shared with the Utica Avenue line, and was proposed to be 8 tracks in this section! The Independent became known as the "8th Avenue Subway" to many people, even in areas where the trains ran far from 8th Avenue! Two months after the Independent opened for business, exits at 95th St, 97th St and 105th St were closed due to theft. While the negotiations failed, it would appear that the Independent's designers were still hopeful for a sale.
On January 1st, 1936, the subway along Houston and Essex Streets (connecting West 4th St with Jay Street) opened. The Independent's marvelous engineering, flyover junctions, provisions for future expansion and complex terminal facilities came at an enormous price--at the time of Unification, City taxpayers had invested approximately $400 million in the IRT and BMT systems combined.
In 1935, the city reached an agreement with the Hudson and Manhattan to relocate its midtown terminal to 33rd Street and close the 28th Street station. El right away and save on the costs of shoring it up while construction proceeded underneath it. The Fair would be held in Flushing Meadows Park, a swampy marshland used as a deposit site for coal ashes. The World's Fair Railroad did not run at all between seasons, and at the close of the Fair, the line was to be demolished.
But instead of rebuilding the World's Fair Railroad, rapid transit was decisively out of vogue in the '50s and '60s. Nearly 15 years after John Hylan's administration ended, his wish came true, but he was not alive to see it; Hylan died in 1936.
The last train left Rockaway Avenue, Brooklyn at 10:49pm, stopping only at Borough Hall to pick up an official party, then ran to Park Row. A party celebrating the razing of the 9th Ave El was held at the American Woman's Club on 57th St, celebrating the "silence" after midnight.
Some people wonder why the Second Avenue El was torn down before the Third Avenue El because it was more strongly built. The initials were retained because a better name for the divisions could not be thought of at the time. The 9th Ave El remnant between 155th Street, Manhattan and 167th Street, the Bronx, became known as the Polo Grounds Shuttle and closed at 12:00am on September 1st, 1958. The LIRR Rockaway Line would be purchased and connected to the IND Queens Blvd Line and run to the Rockaways.
The Brooklyn portion would connect to the BMT's 4th Avenue line at 68th Street and run to New Brighton and Tompkinsville on Staten Island. As a result, these funds were diverted to rehabilitation of the NYW&B, connecting it to the White Plains Road line as a shuttle service. Eventually, it would connect with the Fulton Street El east of City Line, forcing the razing of the Fulton El west of that junction. The connection allowed both the LIRR and the Brooklyn Union to operate trains to new terminals with a minimal investment.
The LIRR began running trains on the BRT Broadway El between Delancey Street and Rockaway Park on May 30th, 1908. The LIRR had been trying to sell the Rockaway Beach branch within the City limits to the New York City Transit System (and later the Authority) for many years. On June 9th, 1956, the first IND clearance train left the Fulton Street El bound for the Rockaways. While the E train provided service on the line, it was the longest rapid transit run in New York City (over 36 miles); in the late 50s, some said this was the world's longest rapid transit run. The remaining portion of the LIRR Rockaway Beach branch north of the Fulton Street El was abandoned by the LIRR on June 8th, 1962. In conjunction with a rebuild of the DeKalb Avenue station in Brooklyn, eliminating junctions at-grade, and connecting the Culver Line with the IND South Brooklyn Line, capacity of the BMT Southern Division through DeKalb Avenue would increase substantially (by 18 trains per hour by some estimates). The Board of Transportation, in 1951, cut back 3rd Ave El service below 149th St to weekday service only.
Mayor John Lindsay wanted the route changes through Chrystie Street delayed because he received complaints about them and wanted to discuss them with TA officials first. The train then ran light to Queens Plaza via the 60th Street tunnel and Broadway Express, where the motorman changed ends and took the train via the 53rd Street tunnel and 8th Avenue local to a lay-up track at 30th St. No more would BMT trains be filled to capacity in one direction and virtually empty in the reverse direction during rush hours. The line would continue from 138th St along the ROW of the former New York, Westchester, and Boston Railway to Dyre Ave. Although most of the power to the subway would have been shut off at 7pm the night before the main storm (Sunday October 28), when the Mayor ordered MTA to completely close the subway, damage to electrical systems is still expected to be extensive. Another video shows extensive damage at South Ferry and Whitehall Street stations (see video above). The idea behind unification was to have the City of New York buy out the privately owned Interborough Rapid Transit (IRT) Company and the Brooklyn-Manhattan Transit (BMT) Corporation. Two tracks of the Lafayette Avenue subway would connect with the proposed First Avenue line. A new Board of Transportation would be created to monitor Hylan's subway lines, and the mayor would appoint the board. The plans to extend IRT and BMT lines out to various areas of the outer boroughs were dropped.
There would be a branch off this line serving the Bronx running under the Grand Boulevard and Concourse, to 205th St.
He was ahead of his time; free transfers between divisions would wait until Unification in 1940. The BMT anticipated the City constructing the Nassau Street Loop, which would have eliminated the bottleneck at Chambers Street (and, therefore, DeKalb Avenue), increasing throughput by allowing additional trains to run into Broad Street.
The BMT argued that their service was bad because of City Hall, and people were beginning to take the side of the BMT. In anticipation of this section, the Concourse line turns east before terminating at 205th Street.
In anticipation of this line being built, trackways measuring 750 feet along with a completed station with full tile work were built that connect to today's IND Queens Blvd line at Roosevelt Avenue -- Jackson Heights. The entire line was planned to be elevated, but the idea of constructing it as an open cut in parts of Nassau Blvd was being considered. 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.
From there, the line continues to Stuyvesant Avenue, then finally to Utica Avenue at approximately Fulton Street. 300 cars measuring 60 feet 6 inches long by 10 feet wide would ply the rails on this and other lines (of the IND and BMT divisions) until March 31st, 1977!
The schedule called for a 4-minute headway during peak hours and an average of an 8-minute headway during off-peak hours. The Board of Transportation was willing to change the time of departure so the Mayor could attend; the mayor's office indicated that he was not available that entire day.
It was a good thing, too; the police summoned to clear the crowds didn't bother with them, thinking that they were Independent personnel doing last minute inspections of the line! There was no official "first train"; because the Independent was running a full schedule of trains before the official opening, whichever train was nearest served the crowds at that particular station.
The Independent's Queens Blvd line planned for a connection to the LIRR at White Pot -- a flying junction and interlocking tower were planned for the 63rd Drive station. The original plan for the 6th Avenue line was to use the H&M tracks as the local tracks, and build two new express tracks between 8th St. Two years later, after much wrangling, the city bought the El from the IRT for $12.5 million and terminated operation of it on December 5th, 1938. Local stops were considered along the new route, and indeed had these been built, perhaps the line would have become permanent, but as constructed, it was a non-stop ride to the Fair.
The last train ran on October 28th, 1940 and on January 15th, 1941, demolition of the line began.
Well after the 1939 - 1940 World's Fair, the city began many road improvement projects and one of these proposals, a $40 million northern extension of the Van Wyck Expressway, was built between 1961 and 1963 on the former right of way of the World's Fair Railroad.
Unification of the privately owned transit lines with the Independent System occurred in June of 1940. Mayor LaGuardia, his official party, members of the Board of Estimate, City Council, the Board of Transportation and the Transit Commission boarded at Park Row.

Later than day, ceremonies marked the transfer of Contract 4 (dated March 19th, 1913) back to the City, as well as the signing of a "closing agreement". LaGuardia called Contract 3 (the contract specifying the 5-cent fare) "the most famous football in history". In the late '70s and early '80s, mostly from the effects of the Chrystie Street connection project, the New York City Transit Authority tried to delete the separate identities of each division, dropping them from maps and no longer using these terms in station announcements.
The NYW&B proposal, after being modified somewhat and at the cost of the Concourse Line extension, actually saw the light of day. Finally, the local tracks of the 8th Avenue subway would be extended crosstown via Worth St to the Bowery and then to Driggs Avenue in Brooklyn. The IND Queens Blvd line would be extended eastward, first to 184th Street, then to 212th Street as a 4-track subway, finally to Hillside Avenue and Little Neck Parkway as a 2-track subway.
A branch of the BMT Culver Line would extend from around 37th St, 10th Avenue and Fort Hamilton Parkway to the BMT's West End El at 86th Street. Using signals from the abandoned Fulton Street El, the Dyre Ave shuttle began service on May 15th, 1941. It also enabled the LIRR to make some additional money to offset both the costs of maintaining the trestles over Jamaica Bay (prone to fires) and the competition for passengers from a new and very popular destination, Coney Island.
On June 28th, 1956, the first official train left Howard Beach at 5:30pm, dressed with a "Rockaway, Here We Come" sign.
The extra fare was required until September 1st, 1975, when the fare became 50 cents anywhere on the transit system. While talk of resurrecting this line for JFK airport service surfaces from time to time, the ROW north of the Liberty Avenue El continues to remain unused to this day.
As part of the DeKalb Avenue work, the Myrtle Avenue station would close on July 11th, 1956.
The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey released film from one of its security cameras at Hoboken Station in New Jersey showing water pouring in through an elevator shaft.
His successor, Jimmy Walker, resigned just a week before the IND opened for business because of charges of corruption. On April 25th, 1921, the New York Transit Commission was formed to develop a plan to resolve the overcrowding and delays on the current lines in any manner it saw fit, including "recapturing" existing lines from the privately owned rapid transit subway and elevated lines.
The compromise allowed the existing systems to continue under the auspices of the Transit Commission, but the new city owned and operated lines would be built and operated under the auspices of the Board of Transportation. This project was likewise affected, and had it ever seen the light of day, the subway as we know it today would have been very different.
Since this wasn't happening, there would be no way that the BMT would built yet another feeder line into an already saturated section of the subway. It even included extensions for IRT and BMT subway lines that would be "recaptured", or taken over, by the City. While the lines in Manhattan, the Bronx and Brooklyn would serve areas that already have some subway service, most of the Queens extensions were to areas that didn't have any subway service, and it was in these areas of Queens where the growth of New York City was expected to be the greatest. The unusual layout of passageways at East Broadway was done in anticipation of this subway line being built. The line would have gone to Beach 149th Street to the south via Rockaway Beach Blvd and Newport Ave. The line would run under Utica Avenue to Ave I as subway, then become elevated at Ave J and continue to Avenue N. In anticipation of this and the Utica Ave lines being built, portions of this junction with the Brooklyn - Queens crosstown line, as well as the South 4th Street station, were built, but were then forever sealed up.
It turned out that building an El doubled land values, but a subway would increase land values from 4 to 12 times!
The two other privately owned subway systems, the Brooklyn-Manhattan Transit (BMT) and Interborough Rapid Transit (IRT) companies were publicly skeptical but privately concerned that the city would make a go of the Independent.
At Nostrand Avenue and Fulton St, provisions were made for a connection to the proposed Bedford Ave line. The line consisted of two tracks ending in a stub-end terminal with two tracks and three platforms. Municipal operation of the BMT started on June 1st, 1940; it would complete with the IRT takeover on June 12th. With these ceremonies, the City also took over the Williamsburgh power plant, 293 miles of subway and elevated trackage, 437 miles of street railway and 239 miles of bus routes. With the 6th Ave El having been torn down as a result of the building of the Independent's 6th Ave subway, only the 3rd Ave El remained in service. He couldn't find "the father of the 5 cent fare"; no-one was willing to admit, or knew, who's idea it was. Knowledgeable people have accused the City of intentionally shutting the Second Avenue El first because the City knew the inferior Third Avenue El would have to come down sooner or later because of its condition--a backward way of forcing complete elevated removal on the East Side. The "Van Wyck Stub" would finally be completed, and extended to Rockaway Blvd as a 2-track subway.
A connection would be built between the BMT's West End Line and the IND's South Brooklyn Line near Fort Hamilton Parkway.
While it used IRT equipment, it was run as an IND Division line and staffed by IND crewmen. On December 11th, 1950, the IND Queens Line was extended to 179th St and Hillside Avenue in Jamaica. On July 17th, 1898, Brooklyn Union Elevated steam trains began running between Broadway Ferry, Brooklyn and Rockaway Park, Queens. El east of City Line, and at Rockaway Blvd, a 2-track connection to the new IND Rockaway Line would be made. It was not of the standard R-10 types; for this occasion, the first train would consist of newer equipment, the R-16s, even though they didn't provide normal service on the line. Promises were made to resurrect the 2nd Ave subway project in exchange for demolition of the El. He also inquired as to why these changes were being made by the TA, knowing that the TA was to become part of the larger Metropolitan Transportation Authority in March 1968.
The NX super-express began the next day; 5 trains were scheduled in each direction during rush hours.
He regularly made it difficult for the IRT and BRT to expand their lines or obtain funding (the 5 cent fare was a losing proposition and could not be changed without city approval).
In addition, Hylan could not "recapture" existing lines with his new system - his system would have to co-exist with the current BMT and IRT lines. Portions of the Fulton El were strengthened in anticipation of this connection being built, but it never happened. It was proposed to connect the South Brooklyn Line with the Culver Line beyond Church Avenue, and run it all the way to Coney Island. For the first time, the Independent would expand without competing with existing lines -- the only time in its history where this type of planning occurred.
It would then curve southwesterly to Avenue S and make its way to its terminal at Nostrand and Voorhies Avenues in Sheepshead Bay. In addition, the length of the R1-9s, 60 feet 6 inches, is exactly the same measurement as the distance between the pitcher's mound and home plate of a Major League baseball field.).
At a cost of $191 million, the Independent was designed not only to compete with them, but also to link up with them, especially the BMT, since it shared the same specifications. These groups felt that the new subway would lead to the rejuvenation of the West Side of Manhattan. While this connection never materialized, the Independent was extended to Rockaway Park in 1956, but the connection would be from the "re-captured" Liberty Avenue Elevated, not 63rd Drive.
The 6th Avenue trunk line, consisting of two tracks, opened for business on December 15th, 1940. And, as luck would have it, the IND was being extended to 169th St, Jamaica, and would be opened by 1937.
In 1955, the City, in an 11th hour bid to keep the Dodgers in Brooklyn, proposed the reconstruction of the Flatbush Avenue LIRR terminal and IRT subway station as a major transportation hub, but it wasn't successful.
As the last train traveled through stations in Brooklyn, station lights were dimmed in memoriam.
Free transfers at 155th St, Manhattan, and 161st St in the Bronx, were made available to the Independent's Concourse line. In addition, at the front and rear of virtually every underground station in New York City, you will find a red sign identifying to emergency personnel the current location, where the next emergency exits are, and what division (IRT, BMT, IND) of the subway you're currently in.
The BMT's Fulton Street Line would be extended to 106th Street as a 4-track subway and link up with the IND Rockaway Line. Finally, the original BMT Brighton Line along Franklin Ave would be extended to Lafayette Avenue to form a connection with the IND's Crosstown Line.
The IND South Brooklyn Line (also known to some as the IND Smith Street Line, also the Crosstown Line) was linked up to the BMT Culver Line at Cortelyou Road on October 30th, 1954. On November 5th, 1951, a $500 million bond issue was passed and set aside for building the Second Avenue subway. In May of 1899, the Brooklyn Union Elevated Railroad was absorbed into the Brooklyn Rapid Transit Company (BRT); in 1901, the BRT electrified the Broadway Line. The original plan for the connection with the Queens Line at 63rd Drive would not come to pass. Nothing happened for nearly 15 years, and what was started was eventually stopped due to fiscal problems. By this point, the plans were too far advanced to delay them any further; the TA agreed to "study" the service changes and make adjustments as needed.
Later increased to 7 trains in the morning rush, the NX was supposed to provide service for an influx of new residents at public housing projects in Coney Island.
It was later found out that the motorman punched the wrong button at DeKalb Avenue, and was sent back to school for some additional training.
Some of the 1949 plans were adapted, but funds were diverted to keep existing lines running. The junction at East 180th Street, as well as the approach of the IRT White Plains Road Line to East 180th St would be reconstructed to allow cross-platform transfers between White Plains Road and Second Avenue Trains.
It was the last, great, major expansion of the subway to this day, and the event went relatively unnoticed by the City government. To get even with the private operators, he wanted a subway run by the city "independent of the traction interests". Finally, Albany made him run the city system at cost meaning eventually the Independent would have to charge a six, seven, even a ten cent fare to be profitable.
Had it seen the light of day, there may have been a three track elevated line along Fulton Street, or at the very least, some connection between the BMT and the Independent (as the IND Division of the NYC Transit System) at DeKalb Avenue. This extension would also be 2 tracks, as subway to 35th Avenue and as elevated to its terminal. The line would be 2 tracks to Driggs Ave, 4 tracks to Ave S, and 2 tracks to the Voorhies Avenue terminal.
The express run from Chambers St to 207th St would be 33 minutes; the local from Chambers to 168th St would be 35 minutes. Mayor McKee was expected to attend the jubilee breakfast, but did not because he was with the District Attorney investigating the steamboat Observation explosion in the East River that killed 37, injured 64, and listed 8 as missing. To this day, the "Rockaway Park" sign can still be seen in the tilework of the mezzanine at 63rd Drive.
The Queens Blvd Line was extended to Union Turnpike on December 30th, 1936, and to 169th St.
From 1927 (when Independent debt began to be serviced) to 1944 this averaged $37.82 million per year! Instead, the 6th Avenue line would have two tracks straddling the H&M from 8th Street to 33rd Street and express tracks would be built later. On the southern fringe of the park, there just "happened to be" the Jamaica Yard, planned even before the idea of a World's Fair took shape. There was no official trip for the 5th Ave El; there was a funeral procession for this El consisting of 300 city workers that took part in a motorcade that traveled along the route. Steam service continued until 1906, because the LIRR didn't finish electrifying the Rockaway Beach branch until July 26th, 1905, and the Chestnut Street connection wasn't electrified until the following year.
Nonetheless, there were still big plans for expansion, but by 1968, with a unified system for 28 years, the expansion plans were for the entire region, not just the IND division.
These are just a few of the many unprecedented challenges the MTA is facing as it tries to restore service. This article describes the history of the Independent Subway in the days of private operation and the IND Division after Unification in 1940.
In fact, many of the lines the Independent opened were in direct competition with existing lines of the time, and those existing lines ended up being torn down in favor of the Independent lines. From 14th Street, the line would split - two tracks would connect to the BMT Canarsie Line and two tracks would continue south to a loop at Battery Park and an East River tunnel to Atlantic Avenue and Hicks Street, Brooklyn.
Stations would be 700 feet long accommodating 12 car trains, and tile work would be more cheerful than the then-current construction; a special finish would be applied to it to more easily clean up the work of early graffiti artists (yes, there were some, on a small scale, in the late 1920s).
The line from Central Avenue into the Rockaways would have been a separate right of way from the LIRR, which already had a similar service pattern, even though the LIRR's Rockaway Line was built with rapid transit service in mind.
This last section, however, would be built in such a way that 2 additional tracks could be added later.
Various studies had been done to determine the "optimal" type car for minimizing station dwell time. Although platforms would be built to handle ten-car trains, the first express trains to run on the Independent would be six cars; the first locals would be five cars.
A New York Times editorial remarked that the Independent opened with no fanfare, yet every section of the West Side Motor Highway opened with some kind of ceremony. After traveling north on the Grand Concourse, it turned east because plans saw this line extended to Gun Hill Road. The Els were torn down because the city felt the Els would run under a huge deficit, and they could not afford that. One must wonder what the area of Avenue U and Flatbush Avenue, now the site of the Kings Plaza shopping mall, would have been like with an IRT line serving it. It wasn't until this connection was made that these cars were retrofitted with windshield wipers! The newly formed New York City Transit Authority spent some of the money on improving subway car design and getting air conditioning to work in subway cars. Between October 3rd, 1955 and June 8th, 1956, the elevated trackage in the Rockaways was converted for operation by the IND. The Metropolitan Commuter Transportation Authority (what the MTA was called when it was first formed in 1968) released its "Program for Action" on February 28th, 1968. Our employees have been assessing the damage all day and will continue to work through the night.
Since this portion of the IRT El was already built to BMT clearances, and Hylan's system would consider using BMT clearances as well, all that would have to be done along this section is shave back the platforms. In anticipation of this line being built, a four track "station" was built the width of the Fulton Street line at Utica Avenue, so when construction for the Utica Avenue line would proceed, service on the existing Fulton Street line would not be disturbed. There were 482 trains planned per day; 228 locals from Chambers to 168th, 280 expresses from Chambers to 207th and 24 locals from Chambers to 207th. On August 18th, the Queens Blvd line opened as well as the Crosstown line to Nassau Avenue.
The Brooklyn Queens Crosstown line was extended to Hoyt-Schermerhorn Streets on July 1st, 1937. With the Independent subway providing redundant service nearby, there was no need for the elevateds anymore. The acquisition of the LIRR Rockaway Beach branch actually occurred, though not exactly as documented by this plan. On December 1st, 1955, the 60th Street tunnel connecting the BMT with the IND Queens Boulevard Line line opened. The program had two phases: phase I considered projects for immediate action and would run over a ten year period and phase II was to be carried out at the completion of phase I.
Instead of one larger side door opening in a single frame on each side, two side doors, half the size, slid open in one frame.
Finally, on October 7th, the South Brooklyn Line (also known as the Smith St Line) opened as far south as Church Avenue. Former LIRR stations at "The Raunt", Goose Creek and Hamilton Beach were eradicated when the IND took over.
The plan considered all aspects of regional travel, affecting the subway, the LIRR, Penn Central, Erie-Lackawanna and New Haven railroads, as well as the regional airports.
El survived until May 12th, 1955, because the intent was to replace it with the Second Avenue subway, proposed back in 1929.

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