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Tuesday, September 16, 2008

The Subway That Never Reached Williamsburg

The Times FYI column posted a question we've always wanted to ask:

Q. Most subway stops’ names use only the street number (42nd Street, for example). How come West Fourth Street and a few stops in the Bronx (like East 180th Street and East 149th Street) are given an east/west distinction?

A. Mainly to avoid confusion.

Herb Schonhaut, manager in New York City Transit’s Office of Station Signage, said the Fourth Street station uses the word “West” to distinguish it from the planned but unbuilt “South” Fourth Street Station in Williamsburg, Brooklyn.

Now, that's the kind of answer that raises more questions--such as, what South Fourth Street Station?

Luckily, the folks over at the Waterfront Preservation Alliance of Greenpoint and Williamsburg have all the answers in an excellent blog post today, which details the IND Second System that was to have opened in the 1930s.

The first New York City subway, the IRT (Interborough Rapid Transit) opened in 1904 with a line that ran from City Hall to 42nd Street (today's No. 6 train), across 42nd Street to Times Square (now the Shuttle), and up the West Side along Broadway (now the No. 1 train). More on the subway and its impact in the shaping the city can be found, as always, in Inside the Apple, due out in early March 2009.

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