Inside the system’s abandoned stations

By · Published in 2009

Every now and then, I’ve written about some of the New York City subway’s abandoned stations. These relics of time past sit empty, some closed and some never used. Recently, Environmental Graffiti, a green-focused blog, went underground to explore five abandoned stations under the streets of Manhattan and Queens. The shot of the 18th St. station on the Lexington Ave. line is dramatic, and the tale of an unfinished upper level at Roosevelt Ave. makes me yearn for the never-built second system.

12 Responses to “Inside the system’s abandoned stations”

  1. Rhywun says:

    Every time I see that Second System map I want to spit. We remain convinced that it’s a pipe dream. Meanwhile, China is building the equivalent of a Second System in every major city.

    • another Ben says:

      Looks to me like the Second Avenue Subway pipe dream, as you refer to it, is actually going to happen — as you can see from the pictures on this blog:
      The Launch Box
      Sure, China is doing much more than we are, here in New York City — but I for one am happy to see us make some big investments in our infrastructure — e.g. the Second Avenue Subway (even if they’re only building Phase I for the moment), East Side Access, the extension of the 7 Line, and the new rail tunnel under the Hudson (even though they still need to win the battle to get the tracks tied in to the existing NY Penn Station.)


      • another Ben says:

        Okay… I freely admit that I jumped the gun with my earlier post.

        I referred to the Second Avenue Subway, when you (Rhywun) were refering to something almost completely different, the Second System. Sorry about that. If I could edit my earlier posting I would.

        But at least, there is now some forward progress on the 2nd Avenue Subway, after all.

      • Jerrold says:

        Thanks for the link to “The Launch Box”.
        I like to keep up with the progress of subway projects.

  2. Woody says:

    Thanks for link to the bittersweet look at the Second System. Something similar, but more affordable, is the map of possible Brooklyn streetcar corridors now over at I’d love to see a map of the full NYC streetcar system from the good old days.

    And I’d love to see a system of sleek, low floor, Eurostyle streetcars gliding along our avenues, supplementing and feeding passengers to the subway system. But at $1 billion a mile, at least, for new subway lines in this city, I think we’d get more bang for the buck from new streetcars. They’d cost about $100 million a mile, that’s comparing Billion to Million, and we’d get the payback in our lifetimes.

    • Rhywun says:

      I’d love to see a map of the full NYC streetcar system from the good old days.

      I’ve looked around and never found any such thing. All I’ve found is some historical (and kind of hard to read) maps of Brooklyn. It was run by a whole bunch of different companies too, wasn’t it?

    • rhywun says:

      That’s a neat article on Brooklyn streetcars… I’ll take one on Bay Ridge Ave, please. I live on the B1 and the noise is appalling–mostly due to the way the drivers speed up to try to beat the light and from the blast of air that seems to escape the bus precisely in front of my living room window and sends my cats fleeing to the back of the house every 10 minutes….

  3. Jerrold says:

    That link about abandoned stations is very interesting, but there is at least one mistake in it.

    That writer says:

    “With just the 5th Avenue stop to get off in between, the shuttle connects the west with the east part of Manhattan at the height of 42nd street, a crucial traffic artery of the city.”

    Apparently, she is getting mixed up between the #7 and the shuttle.

  4. Jerrold says:

    I don’t mean to nitpick here, but I now also noticed a mistake in the FIRST section of that page.
    She calls it 42nd St.-Times Square, but the station that she’s talking about is the 42nd St.-8th Ave. [Port Authority] station.

  5. Peter says:

    Ocassionally, people approach MTA-NYCT seeking permission for novel uses of abandoned – ‘Ghost’ – stations, usually the old 18th St Station on the Lex.
    The problem is that folks fail to realize how tiny those old IRT stations are – closed because they couldnt handle the longer trains that began running in the 1950s – and with no real access to outside.
    Serious consideration was given to trying to utilize 18th St, but access would need to be from the basement of an adjacent building, since sidewalk stairs would be impractical to reopen and secondary egress and ADA access would be required.
    As well, only the central part of the platform is large enough for any commercial use, say, a cocktail bar, and the draw of such a venue would of course be a view of the active tunnel, which would require large windows, requiring frequent cleaning. On both sides. A showstopper, since nobody would be allowed on the active trackway with a squeegee & a bottle of Windex.

  6. Todd says:

    Thanks for posting this. I had meant to ask you about the 18th St station after watching the original Pelham 123.

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