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.
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.
How in the world did you miss the Ed Lover & Dr. Dre posters still in there?!
Wasn’t me! My tipster went in through a staircase left open and didn’t want to spend enough time down there to get caught trespassing. That does help me date the closure though to the mid-to-late 1990s.
Here is said advertisement:
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 🙁
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.
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).
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.
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
And also an aboveground NYCS entrance- no passenger would want to fall into a hole.
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
There’s also a closed entrance on the northern end as well.
How about the southern entrance at 7th Avenue on Flatbush or the closed entrance at the Brooklyn Museum Station?
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
The MTA is working on ADA access to the station, so that’s another possibility for closure of parts of the mezzanine.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
I’ve been wondering about this for years. Your theory sounds plausible, except that the northbound G train stops with its first car aligned with the first staircase.
They should reopen this passageway, bums aren’t a problem anymore. Besides, the place is booming.
Well, this (not being able to use it) sucks!
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.
Would the NYPD want to give up this substation?
Before the 1999/2000 renovation (which appears to have closed the Grand Street exit), you used to be able to walk by the substation (it wasn’t full-width). Very similar to Hoyt/Schermerhorn.
Here’s a photo:
No need to change the layout now though. Maybe add some windows to the back of the substation so that the Grand Street side appears to be “watched” by the police.
Ah, very cool!
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.
Yeah.. better off taking the 4.
Not if you live close to the Concourse.
The Concourse is only 3-4 blocks from Jerome at most.
Even though it’s close by, why walk from the Concourse to Jerome if you frequent the D?
Because some people would rather walk 3-4 safe blocks than risk their lives crossing the Concourse.
At that point, you’re only crossing the outer service lanes, as the thru lanes go under Fordham…so it’s not exactly like Queens Blvd. in that stretch.
Yeah, but still… it’s like the intersection of Woodhaven Blvd and Queens Blvd. Two dangerous roads meeting at one street, one of which has the through lanes in a trench.
Not sure if your tipster is the same source as I mentioned back in 2010, but if not, here is another Flickr set:
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.
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.
As for the first line:
……..winds its worth……surprised.
Wasn’t that intended to be WENDS ITS WAY………SURPRISE?
On second thought, the end of it must have been intended to be SURPRISES.
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.
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.
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)
[…] 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. […]
[…] Had I kept walking a few more stops down the G train to Grand St. in Williamsburg, I would have one more entrance, closed since the […]
I am happy somebody wrote this up as I once brought it up at a MTA town Hall meeting with no response. These mezzanines have a purpose, it wide enough room, you can walk the station without having to go up and down, cross over to other side, they maintained businesses. They were like mini towns as you had cleaners, flower shops, music, clothing store, food shops.
As we seen with MTA over the years closing them for storage, they hardly get used at all, offices that are empty, making them smaller in width like Columbus Circle, Queens Plaza, etc. MTA is wasting all this money with designing abstract art type floors, railings at Broadway/ Layfaytte, Columbus Circle, 42nd Times Sq.
Why walk two blocks to an entrance, with one that is starring you in the face. If there is an emergency at one end that needs both conductor and motorman or lock unable to open, MTA is going to hear it.
Especially if a fire or crash underground, like at the 8th avenue line E train at 50th.
Air quality is bad too as you see the walls are much dirtier than before, even though those air quality machines are down there for testing. Air is not flowing down there, air moves when a person moves within those open spaces.
People want convenience and if they open them up more people would use them. Many of us walked blocks to get to a station and get there and see that it is closed. You are not likely to go walking to the other entrance and get a cab; it may not have a token both clerk there too.
I hope they open the old 6th avenue passageway 42nd to 34th st, 7th avenue to 8th avenue also.
Ben, now it seems that perhaps having this entire mezzanine will be helpful if the L stops running into Manhattan. Move the PD station, open up the entrances on Grand and make the G platform more accessible.
This exit reopened.