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admin 02.09.2014

I sometimes feel like the only person who thinks the IND made subway service in the city worse. If the engineering costs of Sixth Avenue were going to be high, wouldn’t Fifth Avenue have been a good (acceptable) alternative?
I do find it strange that as opposed to Fulton Street, the IND did not prioritize going to Coney Island, which would have allowed the south-central alignment (and faster service from Manhattan to Coney Island, which would have been desirable anyway). Think about it for a minute: cut and cover down one of the most moneyed avenues in the hemisphere? Part of Hylan’s original IND plan was always to seize the Culver line from the BMT to get to Coney Island, and once you got south of Prospect Park, the city apparently was OK with continuing to use el service there. You can certainly argue that subways are better than els, and the 1888 blizzard and the effects on the els was the driving force towards the creation of the IRT. If I’m not mistaken, Chicago had the advantage of developing with rail, at least partly thanks to the 1871 fire.
Don’t quote me on this, but I think Chicago is all built on muck, which is terrible for subways.
Not all of Chicago is built on loose fill, but an *awful lot of it* is, including most of the really heavily built-up areas. The State and Dearborn subways are a bit of a miracle, given the trashy fill they’re running through.
So depressing to live with Hylan’s public transit decisions, immemorialized in a boulevard in Staten Island (Where there is no subway service). They fired his arse supposedly because he was studying a law textbook while he was on the job.
Well, I wouldn’t say that the IND made service worse, because most people felt that subways were better than ELs. The adversarial planning that led to the IND missing many opportunities for connections with the existing systems was unfortunate, but it’s not as though the els had particularly good connections with the existing subways either.
Tearing down the els and replacing them with modern, capacious subways was undeniably beneficial, even if some opportunities were missed in the process. Of the three most pressing connections that are missing, two involve the Crosstown Line, which didn’t exist then, and was on the drawing board in the early 1920s even before the decision for the IND was made. There was provision in the Contract 2 IRT for a Lafayette Ave (potentially crosstown) subway; it would have connected to the lower level of Nevins St station, branching off between there and Atlantic.
That would confuse lots of people since the M doesn’t run late at nights and the E train does. That would confuse lots of people since the M doesn’t run late at nights and the E train does.

A lot of people may not know this, but an 8th Avenue Subway north of 59th Street had been planned prior to the IND.
As for IND bashing, it seems to come easy for some, but I think it takes some nuanced thought to appreciate that the IND has incredible value.
Personally, I see the IND as incredibly advanced for its time, learning the lessons of the IRT and BMT, and pushing the boundaries of subway engineering.
The 53rd St line also should have run under 50th St, just like the 14th St line hits nearly all the major lines it intersects. As Pete Donohue reported in Wednesday’s Daily News, the MTA is eying a northern expansion of FASTRACK for 2013.
As far as I can tell, FASTRACK in the Outer Boroughs will be particular difficult to implement because the authority will have to do away with the notion of alternate service. But a Second Avenue line would have taken little traffic away from Mayor Hylan’s hated BMT Broadway line, and that was part of the goal).
But the residential fare-paying population was concentrated better along the Fulton Street area, I would imagine. The IND project on Fulton was designed to cut the heart out of the BMT’s main el line through the downtown business district, and pretty much kill it off all the way to the major interchange at Broadway Junction. But whether or not the city should has sunk limited taxpayer funds into killing off el lines in less-developed parts of 1920s-30s New York definitely is something that, in hindsight, was a major mistake, but probably wasn’t seen as such then, since by the 1930s New Yorkers had gotten used to the notion that a major new subway line would be opening every few years. And I think a lot of NYC, especially Manhattan, is granite, which is a pain to dig through but doesn’t keep subsiding the way muck does. I know that rail buffs have a nostalgic affection for them, but seriously, Sixth Avenue with elevated trains would not be better than what we have today. But I think the city’s #1 error was tearing down the Second Avenue El before its replacement had been built.
In fact, it already had a subway, one that wanted to extend a bit in order to connect to Grand Central, but was cut short. Building the Second System first would’ve resulted in much better service than is available today.
Chrystie Street helped, but that was decades later; they could have just forgotten about replacing els with subways, built a short trunk line somewhere connecting QB with more BMT lines in Brooklyn, and call it a day. The BoA building took 5 years to construct and cost less than half as much as 1 WTC per unit of floor area.
It was the first city-owned route, and the A train, made famous by Billy Strayhorn and Duke Ellington, has served Harlem and beyond since then. Once the midtown-to-Brooklyn work is completed this year, the authority will look to shutdown service from midtown to 125th St.

But once LaGuardia had achieved Hylan’s dream of a city-run subway monopoly, we all know what happened in the ensuing 72 years. Of course in Chicago els were prohibited from running over streets (because of trees and other permission requrements.) They could however be easily added over city right of way in alleys. It was only because Hylan had a personal poor experience with the subway system that his actions were manifested as much as they did into such a redundant system. Likewise, they could’ve connected 8th Avenue to the two stub-ending tracks of the Broadway Line, as originally planned with the Morningside line.
I mind the building a subway around and under an existing subway that could’ve been extended. Massive interlining leading to the 8th Ave and 6th Ave tracks not used to full capacity (6th Avenue and QB are only rectified today because of the Chrystie St & 63rd St Connections).
These days, the Eighth Avenue route is one of the longest in the city, running from the Far Rockaways to Inwood.
This is, of course, a tougher routing as the IND routes specifically do not allow for any re-routing, and the West Side IRT isn’t particularly near any other line north of Columbus Circle.
How much better would the system have been if instead of this, they’d built the Crosstown Line better, and had the QB Line run into Manhattan on a fully four-tracked alignment and gone along 50th to connect to the north-south lines?
While these areas are in need of the most work, they also have the least amount of system redundancies. I mind putting a subway under QB instead of an el even though the el over another part of QB is perfectly fine (okay, granted, caring about pedestrian amenities vs. No Concourse line under that scenario, but with the Jerome el next door, that was another IND project built more with the idea of crushing the competition than to better the city’s overall mass transit coverage.
The walk from Hell’s Kitchen or Chelsea to the subway will seem even longer for a few nights. I mind building lines competing with lines that weren’t at capacity instead of extending the system to where it needed to go, QB excepted.
El hatred was the flavor of the times, but in all fairness, the Eighth Avenue Subway went places the el didn’t and never could.

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