An Old Boomtown

Continuing yesterday’s discussion of the Queensboro Plaza elevated subway station, the rendering above is from 1913, before the station (or anything other the Queenborough Bridge) had been built, and is not accurate. Specifically, it is hopeful and shows pieces of the planned complex that were never built as well as pieces that were built and have since been demolished. Here’s an annotated version:

  • A is the Queenborough/59th Street Bridge to Manhattan, over the East River, used by Second Avenue elevated trains.
  • B is the elevated line from the southern (“Steinway”) tunnel, used by the IRT and now part of the 7 train.
  • C is a ramp that allows streetcars onto the bridge.
  • D is the portal to the north (60th Street) tunnel, used by the BRT/BMT and now part of the N train.
  • E is the Queensboro Plaza station.
  • F is the elevated line north to Astoria, now the N train.
  • G is the elevated line east to Flushing, now the 7 train.
  • H is a proposed “Crosstown” line to Brooklyn, which was not built in this form.
  • J is the Sunnyside yard of the Long Island Railroad, which is the main yard for Penn Station, three miles to the west in Manhattan.

The biggest changes when the complex was built a few years later are (1) that the station had four platforms on two levels, rather than three platforms on one level as shown here and (2) the Crosstown line was not built. The Crosstown idea was resurrected by the city-owned IND system, opening in 1933 as a subway, rather than elevated.

When the Second Avenue el was demolished, removing the bridge from the subway equation, the system was simplified as discussed yesterday: only the southern upper and lower platforms were kept, with Manhattan-bound service on the lower, enclosed platform and Astoria- and Flushing-bound service on the upper platform. At both levels, the IRT 7 train is on the south track and the BMT N train is on the northern track. This makes the station a busy transfer point, as the walk-across-the-platform transfer is as easy as it gets.

The station was built with the semi-ornate concrete-encased steel seen in the illustration, but only the south facade remains. From the lower platform, here’s the inside of the south facade, dripping with ornamental goodness:

And here’s the north facade, installed after the north platforms were demolished:

Tomorrow: more on that fancier elevated structure, which is a rare thing in the NYC system.

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