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 59th Street and Lexington Avenue Complex


This station complex serves the IRT Lexington Ave and BMT Broadway Lines.  It is famous for the opening scene in "Taking of Pelham 1-2-3", where Mr. Gray enters the station from the 59th street/Lexington Ave entrance on the Downtown local side. 

IRT Local Platforms (Opened 7/17/1918):  The IRT #6 local stops here, each side has: 1 stair that breaks up into 2 stairs to the BMT platform.  1 crossunder stair to opposite platform (also shown in "Pelham"), 1 escalator FROM center level (see below for more information about center level, including artwork, NO ACCESS TO CENTER LEVEL FROM THESE PLATFORMS),  and 1 stair and up escalator to/from center level.  The IRT station tablets and "59" Mosaics, are preserved during the renovation, F/T sides are both at 60th Street end, P/T sides at 59th Street end.  The N/B side at 59thstreet P/T fare control is undergoing slight reconstruction due to an office tower being built above the station.  The N/B side also offers direct access to Bloomingdales department store.  Until 11/15/1962, this station was a local stop, no transfer or IRT express stop existed.

IRT Express platforms (Opened 11/15/1962):  This is the deepest level in the 4 level complex, the IRT #4 and 5 lines use this level.  From north to south, each side has 2 stairs to center level (for all other transfers) at the north end, and the south end has up escalator and staircase to IRT local platform in the same direction of travel only.  The 1990's renovation replaces the drab green tile band and dull 59th Street title with interesting faux IND station tablets.

Both IRT platforms are 2 tracks and 2 side platforms.  However, the BMT level is 1 island platform on 2 tracks.

BMT Broadway platform (Opened 3/11/1920): The N/R and weekday W lines use this area.  Station has 2 sides; the Lexington Ave side has the following; 2 upstairs and 1 up escalator to IRT Downtown local, 2 upstairs to IRT Uptown Local, and 3 downstairs to the center level.  The 3rd Ave side, is newly constructed in the late 1960's, showing signs of the same red tile that was used during renovation of the IRT Bowling Green station in 1978.  It has an up/down escalator and adjoining staircase and is open P/T only, with 4 streets stairs on 3rd Avenue.  The new entrance is a result of the platform extension along the same side during the 1960's.  The distinctive "Lex" mosaics were preserved during the renovation, by installing pre-arrange blocks along the station wall that cup the Lexington above it.  The wall tiles have the red "Lex" evenly spaced out, in IND fashion (but not exactly) with blue background, green borders, and white lettering.  The station could not be made ADA accessible, because the platform columns at the Lexington Ave side make the platform too narrow for a wheelchair to navigate. 

The center level is the nerve center of this vital complex, and is located at the 60th Street/Lexington Ave end.  Installed in conjunction with the 1962 opening of the lower level express platforms, it makes a seamless and easy transfer between all lines from the 3 different areas mentioned above.  It features 3 up staircases to the BMT platform, 2 down staircases to each of the lower level IRT express platforms, and 1 up staircase/escalator to the IRT local platforms on the upper level.  In the same area on the north wall, there is artwork.  Titled "Blooming" (1996) by Elizabeth Murray, uses glass mosaics to cover the entire wall,  it is relation to the former neighborhood name "Bloomingdale" a long time before the department store of the same name opened.  It is a fantasy of trees, a pair of shoes, and yellow mugs filled with coffee, complete with stream rising.

In a walking tour to cover all 3 platforms, you would do the following:  Start at any entrance at 59th Street (when open, which is during most of the day), walk across the IRT local platform to the 60th Street side.  Go downstairs and tour the BMT platform, before you double back and go downstairs to the center level.  Stop there and gaze at the impressive artwork before you descend down one more time to explore the IRT Express platform on the lower level, use the down staircases on the same side at te up escalators.  Note the clear differences in the tile work between the local and express platforms.

Artwork is by Elizabeth Murray and was installed in 19963. it is entitled Blooming. According to the MTA Web Site "...Glass mosaic wall on mezzanine walls connecting the 4, 5, 6, and the N, R, W; medallions on 4, 5 express platform.Riders at this station are treated to the joyous burst of color and shapes that is Blooming. The mosaics defy the corners of the space as the imagery wraps around corners, down steps, and through doorways. Blooming takes its title from Bloomingdale's, located above the station upstairs. The artist views the subway as a "dreamy underworld" and also a place to wake up, and her pink trees, red shoes and yellow mugs with steaming coffee succeed in gaining the viewers' attention. Murray says, "I added the stepping shoes and steaming coffee cups, part of the ritual of every morning or evening subway trip." The images are intended to "stimulate thoughts about passage, as does the poetry" that is incorporated into the mural, lines from William Butler Yeats's, "In dreams begin responsibility," Gwendolyn Brooks's "Conduct your blooming in the noise and whip of the whirlwind."



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 Last revised 01/30/2011

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