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The IRT line on the East Side of Manhattan is made up of portions of several different subway construction contracts, including the 1904 Contract I "First Subway" from City Hall to 33rd Street, three 1905 Contract II Brooklyn Extension stations, and, from Grand Central northward, eleven 1918 Contract III, or "Dual Contracts" stations.
The Contract I and Dual Contracts construction is covered in-depth elsewhere on this site (The First Subway and The Dual Contracts), so this overview will consist of a few brief notes. The contract drawings for the "First Subway" were completed in 1898 by chief engineer William Barclay Parsons. Section 1, Ann Street north to the center of Chambers Street, 0.5 miles of route including the City Hall station and loop, and Brooklyn Bridge station.
Section 2, Center of Chambers Street north to the center of Great Jones Street, a four track subway running 1.13 miles under Elm Street (today's Lafayette Street). Section 3, Center of Great Jones Street north to approximately 34th Street, a four track subway running 1.5 miles under Elm Street (Lafayette Street), Fourth Avenue, and today's Park Avenue South and Park Avenue.
Section 4, Two separate deep rock tunnels from 33rd Street to East 41st Street, 0.38 miles of four track subway under today's Park Avenue. Section 5 included work taking the First Subway westward under 42nd Street to its Grand Central station (today's Shuttle station).
The Brooklyn Extension, or "Contract II", commenced construction even before the first subway line opened in October 1904. Section 1, from the intersection of Broadway and Park Row to Bowling Green, a 2-track subway with side platform stations at Fulton Street and Wall Street, and an island platform station at Bowling Green. Section 2, the so-called "Battery Loop", a two track loop around Battery Park including a station with a single side platform at South Ferry. The East Side subway is connected to the IRT Brooklyn Line at the south end, at the north end primarily to the Dual Contracts-era IRT Pelham Line and IRT Woodlawn Line. South Ferry station was originally built as part of the IRT East Side Line's Brooklyn Extension, but now is served only by West Side trains, so the description is located there. In January, 1908, the tunnel to Brooklyn opened, and the initial service pattern had some express trains running to Borough Hall and some terminating at South Ferry via the Battery Loop.
In 1918, the completion of the IRT West Side line from Times Square to South Ferry created a second connection into the Battery Loop. The shuttle operation was discontinued in 1977 due to budget cuts, yet the platform and wall were renovated anyway in 1978.
One more piece of Bowling Green requires explanation, the side platform on the eastern (northbound) side. Two tracks, two side platforms slightly offset from each other, with glossy blue tile over the original white. Fulton Street is a local station with two tracks and two side platforms, under Broadway between Fulton Street (north) and Cortlandt Street (south).
The station has many ornate decorative elements, including a plaque depicting the steamboat built by Robert Fulton, fancy terra-cotta "F" plaques with greek frets, marble panels, and mosaic name tablets. The Fulton Street Transit Center is the MTA's marketing name for a new headhouse and updates to the transfer corridors at the four Fulton Street stations. City Hall Station, situated on a loop of track in front of City Hall, was the original southern terminal of the Interborough Rapid Transit subway. The curved platform is about 400' feet long, which is the length of a five car IRT train minus the front and rear doors as was the IRT's standard design for a local station when it was constructed. When City Hall Station opened, plaques were hung on the track-side wall commemorating the Interborough Rapid Transit company and honoring the Rapid Transit Subway Construction Co.. City Hall Station opened along with the rest of the Interborough's first subway line on October 27, 1904. City Hall, due to its architecture and its being situated on a tight curve, was deemed impractical for lengthening. City Hall Station was never really an important one in terms of passenger use even when it was open; the nearby Brooklyn Bridge station was heavily used as it served both local and express trains, and the Brooklyn Bridge streetcar terminal was above. While the station may be closed, and very few straphangers have actually seen it, the track on which City Hall Station is located is not abandoned. Plans to open the station as an extension of the New York Transit Museum were mostly shelved due to recent security measures restricting access to the areas around City Hall. Detailed construction plan of the Brooklyn Bridge station as originally built, from the book The New York Subway: Its Construction and Equipment. Express station with four tracks and two island platforms in use, two side platforms abandoned.
The Brooklyn Bridge station has a number of abandoned areas as construction and service patterns have required changes to be made to the station. The side platform on the southbound is now home to some electrical equipment and a backup control tower for the Brooklyn Bridge interlocking.
Worth Street Station was closed to passengers in 1962, due to the platform lengthening at Brooklyn Bridge. Local station with two side platforms alongside four tracks, and one center disused trackway. The fifth center track, installed as part of the original construction and depicted in early publicity photos, is reported to have been disconnected by 1906. Bleecker Street station features typical IRT mosaics with two styles of small "Bleecker Street" mosaics. MTA New York City Transit hired a joint venture of Weidlinger Associates and Lee Harris Pomeroy Architects to design an ADA compliant, complete bidirectional transfer facility. A new artwork entitled Hive, by artist Leo Villareal, is over the staircase leading to the uptown IRT platform.
The reconstructed and historically landmarked station is also graced with terra cotta finishes. Reconstruction of the station included repairs to all systems, reconstruction of control areas, and relocation of major buried utilities. Astor Place station was built in large part under what had been private property along the west side of Astor Place. The heavy brick-faced square columns on the downtown platforms support the old John Wanamaker (now K-Mart) store above them. Astor Place was planned to be a transfer point for the 9th Street branch of the Hudson & Manhattan Railroad (today's PATH).
On August 29, 1991, an accident occurred just north of the station, killing five people in one of the worst wrecks since the Malbone Street Disaster of 1918.
The wreck occurred between 18th Street and Union Square on the downtown side at the entry to a former pocket track.
Grand Central is an express stop and the first station along the line from Brooklyn Bridge built as part of the Dual Contracts. The station offers transfer to the IRT Flushing, Queens line as well as the Shuttle to Times Square. The Grand Central complex is home of the master tower which controls the entire East Side IRT.
North of Grand Central, the express tracks descend to a lower level, and the line continues north in a 2-over-2 configuration. 51st Street a local station with two side platforms alongside two tracks (the express tracks are on a lower level). 59th Street is an express station with two levels each with two side plaforms alongside two tracks. Il existent beaucoup de modeles graphiques derives de la Cigogne peinte sur l’avion du capitaine Guynemer. The work included two tail tracks in a two track structure ending just north of Ann Street, for the switching back of express trains, and two tail tracks and the City Hall loop for layup and turnback of the local trains. The two separate tunnels were required to avoid the existing street railway tunnel, built in 1850 for the New York and Harlem Railroad Company.
On August 1, 1918, it was at this point that the new Dual Contracts "Lexington Avenue Subway" was connected to the Contract I subway. Construction contracts were let by the city to the same Rapid Transit Subway Construction Company that was building Contract I. The station layout is unusual; it has a full length island platform, a side platform slightly offset on the eastern (northbound) side, and a quarter-length island platform on the western (southbound) side.
Demand for Brooklyn service was immediately higher than this service pattern permitted and it was necessary to run all rush hour trains through to Borough Hall.
The 1978 renovation covered over original Heins & LaFarge mosaic "tapestries" that were along the side walls. This was built as part of the 1970s renovations, due to high passenger volume on the island platform. The standard IRT name tablet mosaics have been preserved and incorporated into the blue tile; fancy ceiling accents have been preserved as well. This is the first station of the IRT Brooklyn Extension program, which opened a few months after the IRT Main Line north of City Hall, and the first subway station to reach as far south in Manhattan as Fulton Street.
The southbound platform also incorporates an ornate entrance to 195 Broadway which features fluted columns, engraved metal signs, ornate railings, and some blacked-out display windows.
The site of the 1900 groundbreaking, this station was designed to be the showpiece of the new subway.

The plaques listed the directors, engineers, and financiers, including August Belmont, Cornelius Vanderbilt, and John D. It was immediately clear that expansion of the subway system would be necessary and additional lines were built.
The new longer trains had center doors on each car, and at City Hall's tight curve, it was dangerous to open them.
The #6 trains still pass through it on their way northbound, reversing direction using the loop for the journey back to the Bronx.
The station has been recently renovated, with new tile (poorly approximating original IRT tile) and ADA-compliant elevator access. In addition to the two existing island platforms, there are two short local platforms on the outer edges of the station. This tower is functional but not normally used, because the Grand Central tower is the primary control point for the whole line. During the station lengthening projects it was easier to lengthen the express platforms to the north.
Fare control is at platform level, and the station was not designed with a pedestrian underpass between the platforms. According to the blog at New York Writes Itself the artwork was inspired by John Conway's famous mathematical formula "Life". The budget for creating the new transfer grew from $91 million to $135 million, in part because of increases in construction costs, and in part because the MTA learned it would have to relocate a water main at Houston Street and shore up an adjacent unstable building whose owners could not pay for repairs. The fare control is at platform level, and there are indications of a sealed-up crossunder, long since closed.
Several buildings were demolished to make way for the station accounting for today's odd shape of Astor Place. The H&M station would be at about the same level as the IRT on 9th Street between Broadway and Cooper Square abutting the west wall of the Astor Place station. The uptown and downtown platforms are offset from each other north to south, and are slightly curved.
Union Square and 72nd Street on the IRT West Side line had extra tracks on the approach to the station. The 18th Street station was open from 1904 to 1948, and was closed due to the platform lengthening project at 14th Street (you can see the 14th St. The local tracks are raised above the express tracks to facilitate easier braking and acceleration, as described in the book The New York Subway: Its Construction and Equipment (1904). During its construction it was referred to as the "Diagonal Station", owing to its position on a diagonal connecting the IRT Contract I subway under Park Avenue with the new Dual Contracts subway under Lexington Avenue.
The complex also included provisions for a terminal station serving a future extension of the Hudson & Manhattan (PATH) railroad's 6th Avenue line, planned in the early part of the century but never constructed. Patricia, Patricia et Catia apprenties sculptrices ont pu s’essayer aux plaisirs de la fonderie sable. Les maillons-godets sont constitues d’un corps metallique sur lequel est monte un epais joint souple. Cette chaine, element central du dispositif, meritait un petit coup de neuf, en particulier au niveau des maillons-godets completement cordes.
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Depuis les exploits du capitaine, elles arborent avec prestance la Cigogne sur leur bouchon de radiateur. Il va maintenant pouvoir signer ces oeuvres dans la masse grace a ce tampon de pyrogravure.
The "express" tail tracks would be later used to connect the Contract II Brooklyn Extension subway work from Broadway.
Stations included: Worth Street (now closed), Canal Street, Spring Street, and Bleecker Street. Stations located at: Astor Place, 14th Street (express), 18th Street (now closed), 23rd Street, 28th Street, and 33rd Street. Some complex tunneling work was required to build the connection without interrupting existing service. Stations included: the new "Diagonal Station" mentioned above at Grand Central (express), 51st Street, 59th Street, 68th Street, 77th Street, 86th Street (express), 96th Street, 103rd Street, 110th Street, 116th Street, 125th Street (express). Section 2 also included the two tracks south of Bowling Green that lead to the Joralemon Street tunnel to Brooklyn. The station opened in July 1905 with only the island platform, and as of yet, no service to Brooklyn. So, to provide rush hour service to South Ferry, construction started February 23, 1909 on the strange, short side platform on the west side of the Bowling Green station, and a new trackway connecting into the Battery Loop. To continue providing the shuttle service, South Ferry had a second platform face added on the inside of the loop along the second track (the one formerly used only to turn or layup trains mentioned above.) The tracks are arranged so that the shuttle train enters and South Ferry Inner and returns in the same direction from which it came, without fouling the West Side service on the outer track. Additional exits were required from the island platform; building the side platform allowed for an underpass to be built, with exits to the street from the side platform. On the southbound platform is a wooden token booth and a ticket chopper, wooden restroom doors on each side, and a mosaic of the "wall" is on the rear wall.
On each side of the stairway, there is a glass tile "City Hall" sign, and a third is on the archway above the stairs. The complex green, tan, and white tiling pattern on the ceiling meets in the four corners of the vault over the mezzanine. But ever-increasing ridership eventually required the Interborough's five-car local stations to be lengthened to accommodate longer trains, and so the IRT underwent an extensive program of station lengthening in the 1940s and early 1950s. It was decided to abandon the station in favor of the nearby Brooklyn Bridge station, and so City Hall was closed to passenger service on December 31, 1945.
The skylights were uncovered, lighting fixed or replaced, and a stairway to the street reopened.
The right-most leads into the City Hall Loop (and thence returns to the uptown side of this station). These local platforms were built to the 5-car length of original IRT local trains presumably to accommodate extra passenger volume.
The interlocking board can be seen through a window along the wall along the southbound local trackway. The curves at the south end proved impossible to rework so the station was lengthened northward (allowing Worth St. The locations of switches to and from this center track to the express tracks can be seen at one point along the center track walls. Angeliades, extended the uptown IRT platform 300 feet to align it with the IND station, and constructed a central stairwell and elevator shafts to connect the IRT platform to the IND platforms beneath it. The LED lighting are programmed to flash with different speeds and intensity depending on how busy the station is.
The completion target of 2010 was pushed back repeatedly; the MTA finally confirmed that the transfer would be open in August 2012. Excavation was necessary along an existing IRT tunnel box structure adjacent to an existing six-story building, garage, and giant billboard, which had foundations that had to be deepened and stabilized. The station's decoration includes plaques depicting beavers, in honor of John Jacob Astor, who had made his fortune in the beaver pelt trade. In the pedestrian island where the entry to the northbound station platform is located, there is a reproduction of the famous IRT kiosks. K-Mart has reopened a direct entrance to their store from the southbound platform, which had been sealed for many years after the demise of the Wanamaker's store at that location.
The reservation for this branch is still in force as of the early 1980s; an apartment house on 9th Street was prevented from certain basement reconstruction because the work would compromise the right-of-way. Gap filling moveable platforms are automatically operated via proximity sensors mounted on the outside wall when trains arrive.
These were between the incoming local and express track and were one old IRT train length long.
An ornate fare control grille on the southbound side is actually an artwork entitled Long Division, by artist Valerie Jaudon, which was installed during station renovations in 1988.
The fare control is at platform level and does not currently provide for a crossunder or crossover, however there is a closed crossunder complete with railings and a blacked out sign indicating its location. As a result the station is extremely complex, with a mezzanine above the IRT Lexington line platforms which has direct access by escalator to the Flushing line. This station features beige brick over the original tile but the standard IRT mosaics were saved.
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Entraines dans un tube plonge dans le puis la chaine et les godets remontent l’eau par cette conduite. Le design officiel du bouchon (selon l’INPI) est de Francois Bazin (co-depositaire Louis Massuger).
The Contract I subway's groundbreaking took place at City Hall on March 24, 1900 but actual construction on this segment didn't start until March, 1901. At Spring Street there was a center siding track making the width of the subway at this point five tracks. Several articles describe this work, including Design of the Diagonal Station and Connection (1918), and Opening a New Link of New York's Vast Subway System (1918). The subway was to be four tracks on two levels, with local service on the upper level and express service on the lower level, and included a complex junction at 125th Street to connect to the lines being built in the Bronx.
Now, northbound trains open their doors on the right side of the train, onto the eastern side platform; southbound trains open their doors on the left side of the train onto the island platform.
Express trains from the East Side line entered the station from the north, stopped at Bowling Green, then circled the "Battery Loop" to South Ferry station, returning northbound and stopping at Bowling Green on their uptown journey. Completed in April, 1909, shuttles then provided all rush hour service to South Ferry using this short platform. There is a crossunder about midway along the length of the stations, and a lesser-used one at the north end.
There are exits at Fulton Street and Dey Street on the southbound side, and Fulton Street and John Street on the northbound side.
The platform and mezzanine feature Guastavino arches and skylights, colored glass tilework, and brass chandeliers.
These plaques were removed when the station was closed, and relocated to the Brooklyn Bridge station, where they hung near a token booth until 1995. To get out, the motorman would key open a a single end door to allow visitors to step carefully out onto the platform. A VIP ceremony was held there on October 27, 2004, and for a few hours after, the station was open to the public once again.
The south end of the downtown side platform is still visible near the dispatcher's booth on the downtown island platform. The subway tunnel runs very close to the foundation wall of the lower level of Federal Plaza, but the station does not intrude into footprint of the plaza. The portion of the station added during the various platform lengthening projects has simple white tile.
A mechanical room is now located in the trackway at the south end between the two express tracks.
Angeliades added elevators to provide access to Crosby and Houston Streets and an entrance at Mulberry Street.
The beaver plaques and station name tablets are original decoration made by the Grueby Faience Co. Greenwich Village transit activists suggested building this spur to provide some cross-Village transit but by now it seems impractical and unlikely. There is a mezzanine above the platforms that provides transfer opportunity to the BMT lines. He had been running the train at 40 MPH in a 10 MPH zone and took the switch so fast that only the front of the first car made the crossover. The idea was to have a 'stacking' track where a train could be held momentarily until the platform cleared for it to enter the station. The token booth is unusual in that instead of a standalone structure, it is built into the tile wall. The decoration at platform level features terra-cotta eagle plaques, similar to those at Brooklyn Bridge and 14th Street. A December, 1918 article published in the Public Service Record, Design of the Diagonal Station and Connection, details the construction, and a later single line diagram gives a scale representation of the track and platform layout.
There is also a cross-under below the Lexington line platforms offering an easier transfer path to the Flushing line. The board board shows the status of all of the signals and switches, and roughly indicates the train locations along the East Side IRT. Pour une resistance equivalente l’AS7G06 est en effet 3 fois plus leger que la fonte. Construction commenced July 10, 1900, and encountered some trouble near Pearl Street at the site of the old filled-in Collect Pond. Two more articles describe the August 1, 1918 service changes that would become known as the "H System": IRT H System Opens (1918), and The H Lines In Service (1918).
59th Street was later converted to an express station, with new side platforms built on the lower level.
Off-peak trains continued to circle the South Ferry loop (and still do, although the terminating trains from the East Side line use the inner track and do not stop at South Ferry).
The fare control now consists of the restored headhouse entrance at the south end, which serves only the island platform, and various other entrances that lead to the eastern side platform and down to a large fare control gate area in the underpass. The transfer corridor to the other Fulton Street stations and the new Fulton Street Transit Center headhouse runs easterly from here under Fulton Street.
First-time visitors are awe-struck at the station's huge glass and brick arches and tiling.
Until the 1960s they merged into the downtown express track north of Fulton Street station but since then they are spurs ending a little ways north of Fulton St. They were closed in 1910 after only six years in operation and walled off along the platform edges. The third and fourth cars ended up perpendicular to the tracks, having sheared off support columns and split in half.
The track here and at 72nd Street were rendered useless when train lengths grew beyond their capacity. There is a low tiled wall at the 22nd street end which is a probable remnant of a closed crossunder. The station's ornamentation includes an unusual back-lit station name sign at the fare control. The station platforms are decorated with what will be recognized as "typical Dual Contracts" name tablets, icons, and "runner" mosaics along the track-side walls.
In the photo of the board below, the City Hall loop is on the top track diagram on the far left, and at the close right is Grand Central. The fare control is seven steps up from the platform level, and the platforms themselves are approximately 60 feet below street level. The express platforms were added to reduce congestion at Grand Central and to provide another connection to Queens trains via the BMT.
The short southbound-side platform is abandoned; so one could consider the station now having two tracks and two side platforms. Exits are located at Broadway at Thames Street, and Broadway between Rector and Exchange Place. Contrary to popular rumor, there was no plaque here honoring Alfred Ely Beach's early pneumatic subway. From time to time the NY Transit Museum has tours of this station, but these have been suspended due to perceived security risks in the area around City Hall. The original portion has tile covered I-beams with small name tablets and small "C" mosaics in tile band along tops of walls, and an ornamental ceiling.
The line suffered heavy damage and service was disrupted for six days as transit workers toiled around the clock to clean up the wreckage.
When the damage from the 1991 wreck was repaired the crossing was not made more gentle even though the stacking track here was removed.
The icon in this case is a stylized steam locomotive, apropos to the station's location under Grand Central Terminal (which in its early days indeed had steam powered trains). A long underground passageway exists outside the fare control which connects to the Broad Street station of the BMT Nassau Street-Jamaica Line. The new portion had 1950s green tile at the ends of the platforms, but a late 1990s-early 2000s renovation has replaced this with a uniform white tile along the whole platform wall.
The entire infrastructure, including signals, the switches, track, roadbed, cabling, and 23 support columns needed to be replaced. MTA Metro-North's renovations of Grand Central Terminal included an air-conditioning project, and this was extended to the usually extremely warm IRT subway platforms. The motorman Ray was sentenced to 15 years in prison for the worst subway accident since 1928. Chilled water-based air coolers are located at several points along the platforms, making Grand Central the only artificially cooled station on the New York City Subway.
The platform's massive columns and beams support part of Grand Central Terminal and the office towers next to it.

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