Remembering a few abandoned subway stationsBy
I grew up at 91st St. and Broadway in Manhattan, and I remember learning from an early age of the subway stop that, one day, years before I or my parents lived there, had been open at our corner. The station was a local stop on the IRT from 1904 until February of 1959 when modernization and platform expansion rendered it useless. Today, it is a graffiti-covered relic from another era.
These days, whenever the elimination of a service is mentioned or the partial shuttering of a subway station finds its way into the news, community groups react with a vehemence reserved only for the biggest of issues. Protests are planned; letters are written; politicians put pressure on the MTA to find a way to keep that station open. Even a station as lightly used as, say, Broad St. with its 7200 daily riders and its 589 weekend riders might garner some community support.
Once upon a time though, the Transit Authority engaged in a bit of system improvements that led to the shuttering of a good number of stations. A few were deemed redundant because they were simply too close to the next stop, and with longer trains and platforms that stretched an extra block or so, these stations were casualties various modernization programs. Surprisingly, the media reception to these closings were slight.
In 1959, when the TA closed 91st St., The Times mentioned it in the context of a 1000-word article about the $100 million West Side IRT upgrades that led to a clearing of the 96th St. bottleneck and a lengthening of that station to include a southern entrance between 93rd and 94th Sts.
Buried after the jump on page 18 of the paper was a solitary paragraph about 91st St. “One other change,” Stanley Levey wrote, “will be made on Feb. 6. The local station at Ninety-first Street will be closed. In its place an entrance to the new mezzanine of the Ninety-sixth Street station will be opened between Ninety-third and Ninety-fourth Streets.” It was rightly deemed pointless to double the length of the 91st St. stop with an express station just two blocks away.
A few of the other shuttered IRT stations received barely more coverage than that. When the city announced in 1948 that the 18th St. stop along the East Side IRT would be closed, The Times devoted three paragraphs and 123 words to the news. The reason given then wasn’t because Union Square’s northern entrances were three blocks away but because the 23rd St. station now had access points at 22nd St. “Trains will now run non-stop between Fourteenth and Twenty-third streets,” the unsigned article said.
The long-forgotten Worth St. stop, just a few hundred feet of the original Brooklyn Bridge station, received a scant send-off as well. It closed in 1962 as part of a $6 million overhaul of what we now call Brooklyn Bridge/City Hall on the East Side IRT. The TA had to lengthen and straighten the platforms to better accommodate 10-car trains, and when they did so, the Worth St. stop became pointless. Charles Grutzner of The Times was seemingly the only person to mark the occasion. “The rebuilt station, to be known as Brooklyn Bridge-Worth Street, will go into full service at 11 P.M. At the same time, the old Worth Street local station near by will shut down,” he wrote. “No ceremony will mark either event.”
And that is the way history had it. No ceremony marked the events as various stations faded into subway lore.