Jan
24

Inside Metropolitan Avenue’s shuttered G passageway

By

The Grand St. half of the G train’s Metropolitan Ave. stop is currently closed to passengers.

The G train as it winds its way through Williamsburg is chock full of urban underground surprises. The South 4th St. shell sits uncompleted, unacknowledged and adorned with graffiti above the northern end of the Broadway stop, and a few blocks up Union Ave., the Metropolitan Ave. – Lorimer St. stop contains its own little secret. Thanks to an anonymous Second Ave. Sagas tipster, we can take a close look inside an area long closed to the public.

The secret to this station lies in its name. Before the IND Crosstown line and BMT Canarsie line combined to create today’s Metropolitan Ave./Lorimer St. complex, the IND stop was called Metropolitan Ave./Grand St. with entrances along Union Ave. at both intersections. The station featured one of the overbuilt full-length mezzanines that is a hallmark of the IND stations throughout the city. Much of that mezzanine is now blocked off by the police station, some crew quarters and, well, an abandoned entrance.

On the G train platform, evidence of the old name is visible in the tiling, and a shuttered staircase at the southern end of the platform leads upward to the now-closed Grand St. exit. My tipster, encountering an open grate a few months ago, did some exploring, and the photos show the station as it was before renovation in 2000-2001 changed the color scheme.

A transfer sign and staircases await passengers that will not be arriving any time soon.

We see a sloped ramp and station entrances in pretty good shape. Temporary walls mark the employees-only areas, and access to the platforms is gated off. All in all, there are publicly available and open parts of the system in much worse condition than this spot.

So what to do with it? Earlier today, I mused on the role passageways play in the subway system, and here is a functional one — albeit with some work to be done — sitting there without use. Considering the population growth in the area over the years since it was last in use, it’s a spot the MTA should consider reactivating.

The G train, meanwhile, is drawing some public support. The Riders Alliance — a group for which I sit on the board — along with local politicians is hosting a rally for the G this weekend. They’re not arguing for the reopening of this entrance, but they’re asking for increased G train frequency and out-of-system transfers between the G and J/Z in Williamsburg and the G and Atlantic Ave.-Barclays Center. “As the neighborhoods surrounding the G train continue to grow, it’s vital that their lifeline grow with them,” State Senator Daniel Squadron said.

For a few more shots of the abandoned mezzanine passageway, check out this set on Flickr.



Categories : Abandoned Stations

50 Responses to “Inside Metropolitan Avenue’s shuttered G passageway”

  1. Moses says:

    How in the world did you miss the Ed Lover & Dr. Dre posters still in there?!

  2. Andy says:

    It’s really sad that we have all these closed entrances in the system. Every time I the the train I pass by the closed side of the Halsey stop on the J train. It’s always lit up, but no way to use it. Oh well :(

    • Marc Shepherd says:

      I don’t understand why Ben describes this as “overbuilt.” It was correctly built, and they just need to re-open it.

      • The “overbuilt” aspect is in reference to the way IND mezzanines span the entire lengths of the stations. It led to massive construction costs.

        Stations should have entrances at both ends, but you don’t need a mezzanine that long to do so.

        • Someone says:

          In sharp contrast to the IRT, whose stations are spaced very close together.

          The point is, the IND wanted to have as much coverage as the IRT without building as many stations (the IND was the IRT’s direct competitor).

          • BrooklynBus says:

            Yes.

            Many entrances that were closed once for safety reasons or because they was too lightly used to have a token agent there, should no longer be closed today because the reasons for their closure no longer exist. Automated entrances and MetroCard no longer requires the need for station agents at all locations and the labor expense to keep them open no longer is a reason to keep them closed.

            As you point out the IND was designed to have an entrance at each end rather than just a single entrance in the middle, and hence stations were designed to be further apart than the IRT and BMT. When an entrance at one end is closed such as at the Northern Blvd station, it is particularly burdensome for a passenger getting off the train at the “wrong” end of the platform. They must first walk five minutes to get to the exit, then often have to retrace their steps once outside.

            If we really want to encourage mass transit, which is really only a slogan now, all stations with closed entrances need to be re-examined, especially those on the IND. Unfortunately, the MTA will not do this on their own because their interests are to save money, not spend a little to improve service and encourage mass transit.

            That’s why I once proposed that there needs to be legislation that for every entrance the MTA removes a station agent from, they should be required to open a closed station entrance, preferably in the same neighborhood if possible. That legislation would not be necessary if the MTA acted on their own accord.

            • That’s why I once proposed that there needs to be legislation that for every entrance the MTA removes a station agent from, they should be required to open a closed station entrance, preferably in the same neighborhood if possible.

              There just aren’t enough closed station entrances to do that, but I like the overall idea. Considering how few station agents there are these days, nearly every closed entrance should just be reopened by now. The costs are so minimal.

              • SEAN says:

                If these closed entrances & passageways are reopened, they don’t need to be ADA accessable if they aren’t significantly altered. That would lower costs to the MTA & give them insentive to move foward on such projects. The most costly items are a little paint, security cameras & Metrocard equipment

            • Jason says:

              Well said. A couple entrances that i’ve discovered shuttered but would be useful:
              1.) Delancey Street F platforms at what I believe to be the southern ends (they’re right behind the doors at the end of the platform
              2.) Franklin Ave C train on the western side of the platforms

        • Miles Bader says:

          I dunno, I love full mezzanines… if properly used, they end up being a useful public space—you can have retail there, and they can be used as a convenient way to avoid above-ground traffic even if you’re not taking the subway—and make using stations appreciably more convenient (allowing more exits, and easier use of exits). They’re a positive addition to the urban fabric, making subway stations more like actual places and less like ratholes.

          So, maybe not for random stations in the middle of nowhere, but for anyplace which is well-used, give me a good mezzanine!

          • AlexB says:

            I agree. I don’t think the full length mezzanine is a bad idea or necessarily “overbuilt.” In the age of 2nd ave subway stations and huge cavern stations, that term doesn’t exactly apply to the stations on the Crosstown Line. It’s clearly more than they needed to build in order have effective stations, but it’s not useless. We are too accustomed to the cramped and utilitarian IRT system to give the IND credit. A little extra space isn’t going to kill anyone. I blame the MTA for their utter lack of creativity and letting these spaces fall into disrepair.

          • John says:

            But I think what Ben is really speaking to is maybe the fact that this never and most likely will never occur. And I don’t think that was the intent in the first place. Have you been in any of the local stations on the Queens Blvd line? Or stations along the D in the Bronx? They are massive, and the space is largely unused. No retail, not even buskers using the space for performances because the space is so desolate most of the time.

            • SEAN says:

              Forest Hills is a great example of this, although there’s a newsstand at one end of the concourse. Too bad other stations couldn’t get a similar treatment as we don’t want to atract even mor vermin on the subway than already exists.

              • Jason says:

                Forest Hills mezz to me seems rather busy (at least during rush hour commutes). Especially now that construction has been going on and they are sealing off parts of it for what i guess is to be storage and offices.

                • Someone says:

                  The MTA is working on ADA access to the station, so that’s another possibility for closure of parts of the mezzanine.

                  • SEAN says:

                    Come to think of it, where would street elevators be placed at Contenental? They would need to build them on both sides of Queens Boulevard as crossing there is like playing russion rulette with cars instead of a bullet.

                    • John says:

                      Actually, now that you mention it… yeah. Where would those elevators be? Thinking about it, they could only logically be placed on the median part of the boulevard, to get to platform level. You have to walk a considerable ways either south or north after walking down the stairs and into the station from either side of the boulevard. I’m scratching my head. But I guess, to be ADA compliant, it doesn’t matter where the elevators are placed, as long as they are placed.

                    • Someone says:

                      I don’t know where the elevators are going to be, but I definitely know for sure that there are going to be elevators there soon.

                      It would most likely be at the southwest corner of 70 Place and Queens Boulevard.

        • TP says:

          If they’re really not needed for a transit purpose, the MTA should be turning all these closed spaces them into retail spaces. Most of these “overbuilt” mezzanines were closed in eras when their surrounding neighborhoods were deteriorating. Today a lot of them are in neighborhoods where rents are skyrocketing.

  3. R2 says:

    I don’t foresee this side opening up anytime soon. As such, for the life of me I don’t understand why the car markers for the shortened G haven’t been changed to put the G even closer to the Metropolitan side. Where the train stops now makes no sense. There should be no G train sprint here at all.

    • Could it be due to the narrow platforms and staircase locations at the northern end of the station? Stopping the G as it does now allows for a better distribution of passengers down the length of the platform.

  4. Someone says:

    :(

    They should reopen this passageway, bums aren’t a problem anymore. Besides, the place is booming.

  5. Someone says:

    Well, this (not being able to use it) sucks!

  6. John-2 says:

    Unlike some of the transfer corridors like the ones on 14th or 41st streets, the IND mezzanines are wide enough to were part can be subdivided into retail space, while still leaving enough room for people to pass through.

    But even if the above neighborhood and station traffic was big enough to justify underground retail the question would be what kind of retail space? One of the few positive thing Bill Ronan did was to get the gum, candy and soda machines out of the subway, due to the extra trash they generated. Whatever retail went in there would have to be designed so that things didn’t end up on the track bed or platforms one flight below.

  7. Eric Brasure says:

    Would the NYPD want to give up this substation?

  8. D line says:

    The IND was built in the 1930′s when everyone took he subway, so it really wasn’t overbuilt. That being said, the D line in The Bronx has a few stations with closed off exits and passageways, with Fordham Road having the most inconvenient closing on the line. The downtown side is closed on Fordham, meaning that you either have to use 188th St, or cross the Concourseto catch the train.

  9. Kai B says:

    Not sure if your tipster is the same source as I mentioned back in 2010, but if not, here is another Flickr set:
    http://www.flickr.com/photos/rober-/3370192343/

    There actually is a small effort to get this side opened again. I encountered an article or blog post a few months ago regarding this, I just can’t seem to find it right now.

    With the area and the line’s ridership growing, I think it will happen in the not-so-distant future.

  10. AlexB says:

    I remember when they re-opened the South Portland exit on the G at the Fulton St stop. They did it because of complaints from G riders about level of service. It was a very minor gesture and I remember wondering why they picked that entrance and not the Metropolitan/Grand one. Grand St has exploded in the last few years with tons of restaurants and a rapidly growing population. Being halfway between the L and J and right on a bus line, people would flock to that entrance if it were opened. If it is openable, an exit from the Broadway stop at S 4th would also be well used.

  11. Jerrold says:

    As for the first line:

    ……..winds its worth……surprised.

    Wasn’t that intended to be WENDS ITS WAY………SURPRISE?

  12. Christopher says:

    A few years ago, I remember reading here at SAS that MTA was going to be exploring transit oriented design. But don’t know what happened to that initiative. The disconnect between city planning and a large state agency is very much evidenced in situations like this. Other cities are expanding or improving their transit systems with a careful connection between land-use and decisions underground. I can think of WMATA in particular that has used local taxes on land near stations to fund improvements, including a new rail line and improved or new stations. Reopening shuttered entrances should be part of decisions made above ground too. Heck adding entrances on stations that are particularly lopsided could be funded through changes to zoning above ground. It’s frustrating to anyone that appreciates the interconnected elements of good walkable neighborhoods. These pieces of the puzzle don’t exist in isolation. And the MTA operates particularly isolated.

  13. LLQBTT says:

    Ummm…are ALL the lights always on?! What a waste if they are!

    • It’s not disused. It’s just not used for revenue service. Between crew storage and the police, there’s a reason to keep the lights on.

      • sharon says:

        not all the time. They could reduce the amount of lighting or have some of the lighting on motion sensor. In the day and age of global warming, every watt counts and every dollar counts.

        The extra watts could be used to split water into hydrogen for fuel cells. (i know a bit dramatic but the mta has left light on in closed exits for ever)

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. [...] Passing through or around various other subway lines, the G is also ripe for better connections to the rest of the city, and to that end, the Riders Alliance — an organization for which I sit on its board — has targeted the G for its first campaign. Its goals are rather simple: The Alliance is building grassroots support to pressure politicians and the MTA into adopting a few easy improvements for the G, including a free out-of-system transfer between the G and the J/M/Z and the G and the Atlantic Ave./Barclays Center station, increased train frequency at rush hour, improving communications with riders and reopening closed entrances. [...]

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