Home   NYCT   Staten Island   Port Authority   NYC Commuter Rail   America  The World    Contributors   Links


Transit Tech   Transit Then   Transit Today   Transit Tomorrow



 A TabletRockaway Tablet     A Rockaway Sign



Manhattan Tile Band

North refers to trains to 207th Street and South refers to trains to Far Rockaway.

For photos please see www nycsubway.org 



207 Street/Inwood (On Broadway between 207th and 211th Streets/Isham Ave) Opened 9/10/1932This is where the Independent Subway system, a.k.a. the IND, was born and is the 3rd such system in NYC before the 1940 unification of the 3 rail operating companies .  The original A line ran express from 207th Street to Chambers Street (the AA provided the local service from 168th Street to Hudson Terminal, today’s World Trade Center station.) until further expansion of the IND system took place in the early and mid-1930’s.  The current layout of this station has 2 separate mezzanines; it used to have a full length passageway, now the current space is used for NYCT employees only.  2 stairs from platform to mezzanine level, located in between current mezzanines, which were removed some time ago, also suggests further evidence of this full length mezzanine.  Full time side at 207th Street has 3 street stairs, 1 ADA elevator (the station is fully ADA accessible) and 1 large double-width stairs to single island platform, typical of most end terminal stations.  The Part time side at 211th street/ Isham Place has a ghost booth (victim of the 2003 booth closings), 24/7 HEET access, 2 street stairs and 2 stairs to platform level.  Artwork “At the Start…At Long Last…”  (1999) by Sheila Levrant de Bretteville, contains wall and floor tiles all over both mezzanines that chronicle the historical origins of Inwood, the neighborhood that this and other adjoining stations serve, and how it took shape in modern NYC history.  One tile has an excerpt from the NY Times on the IND’s opening day (printed on 9/11/1932).  There is silver glitter dotting the title of the artwork.  Downstairs on the platform walls, the replica of the IND style tile band is silver on the top and bottom of the purple tile band, a departure from the customarily black borders.  The tile band was formed by using prearranged “blocks” of full length wall partitions and attaching them to the existing wall, thus assembling them together. 7th Ave/53rd street, Broadway-Lafayette IND, and Atlantic Ave/Brighton BMT stations also have this look.  A closer examination of both renovated walls reveals that you can see the “breaks” in the walls at about every 10 feet in width.  Prior to the 1999 renovation, the station walls had no tile band, only “207” was visible. 

 According to the MTA web site "...Mirror mosaic text, silkscreened tiles, etched railings, and terrazzo pavers on the mezzanine. Sheila Levrant de Bretteville focuses on the origins and history of the multinational community in and around Inwood. Within the station, a terrazzo paver marks the spot of the northern-most point of the A line, and metallic silver Murano mosaics compose the large letters that signal you are at a place of arrival and departure. White-glazed ceramic tiles comment on the experience of recent immigrants to New York and on the elevator wall are figures from various present-day Latino civilizations. Finally, there is a motif of flute-playing figures in terrazzo pavers on the mezzanine that comment on the role of music in the community. "Musical history resonates here," she says, "it is the soul of this community." She highlights this by etching lyrics from "Take the A Train" on the stainless steel railing of the mezzanine stairwell.

Mirror mosaic text, silkscreened tiles, etched railings, and terrazzo pavers on the mezzanine

Sheila Levrant de Bretteville focuses on the origins and history of the multinational community in and around Inwood. Within the station, a terrazzo paver marks the spot of the northern-most point of the A line, and metallic silver Murano mosaics compose the large letters that signal you are at a place of arrival and departure. White-glazed ceramic tiles comment on the experience of recent immigrants to New York and on the elevator wall are figures from various present-day Latino civilizations. Finally, there is a motif of flute-playing figures in terrazzo pavers on the mezzanine that comment on the role of music in the community. "Musical history resonates here," she says, "it is the soul of this community." She highlights this by etching lyrics from "Take the A Train" on the stainless steel railing of the mezzanine stairwell.




Dyckman Street 200th Street (Broadway and Dyckman Street/Riverside Drive) (Opened 9/10/1932):.This station has 2 side platforms and 4 tracks, giving the initial impression that it is a local stop.  The 2 “express” tracks actually are yard leads to the sprawling 207th St yard and maintenance shop.  The Full time side is on the Downtown side and has 3 street stairs to fare control at platform level.  The northern 2 street stairs have a passageway of which some businesses stores were located here as a subway arcade at one time, they are all closed and boarded up.  There is an underpass to the 207th St-bound side and exit only with 3 street stairs from the platform.  One of the stairs to the underpass from the S/B side is gated closed, the other is open.  Station tablet is purple. 





190th Street-Overlook Terrace: (East of Fort Washington Ave and North of 190th street) opened 9/10/1932. Among the most intriguing of all NYC subway and elevated stations, 190th street its beneath bedrock at about 150 feet below street level on one side, but is actually above street level when exiting to the east side at Bennett Ave.  This is due to the varied topology of the area which is very hilly; the IRT engineers had a similar problem with excavating tunnels when building nearby 191st St station. The station can be accessed by using 2 different entrances, both of which lead to the only mezzanine.  The first and more common entrance to use is descending a set of stairs facing the east side of Fort Tryon Park, at Fort Washington Ave, to a stationhouse that has 3 elevators.  At least one of these elevators is manned by a NYCT employee, all others are self-service.  The elevator will take you 120 feet down to the mezzanine level.  Also at the stationhouse inside, an boarded up old-style change booth is visible and is facing the elevators (tokens were sold at this location), along with a possible 2nd closed entrance opposite the current entrance to the house.  The stationhouse has an 19th century feel to it as you look at the arched entrance.  The second way to access this station is to use the long green walled passageway about 300 feet east to Bennett Ave and the far eastern end of Fort Tryon Park (there is no access to the park from this entrance).  This is a downhill incline and I give the impression that because of the hill, the street entrance at Bennett Ave is lower than the station platforms inside.  There is an HXT high wheel that allows customers to exit there without walking upstairs to the mezzanine first.  A covered “Uptown” sign at the top of the exit-only ramp suggests that when the IND first opened, one could’ve descended down the ramp and use the old Iron Maiden high wheel turnstile there.  The mezzanine affords a nice view of the tracks and trains below.  Station is 2 tracks, 2 side platforms, 2 stairs to each platform from mezzanine and the ramp discussed previously, the arched tunneled like ceiling on the platform level, shows the tunnel was used the boring method, instead of “cut and cover”.  Station name tablet near staircases reads “190th ST.-OVERLOOK TERR.”.  This station is well protected from many possible man-made and nature threats at the surface; it was the site for numerous atomic and scientific experiments carried out by researchers.  




181ST Street (Fort Washington Ave, between 181st and 184th Streets) opened 9/10/1932:  Not as deep as 190th Street but still a very deep station, nevertheless.  Station is 2 tracks and 2 side platforms with full length mezzanine and F/T booths on both ends.  The mezzanine affords a clear and unobstructed view of both platforms but not the tracks and trains themselves. The north end has 2 exits, one a passageway to West 184th street and Overlook Terrace, the 2nd way to exit it via. one of three elevators to West 184th street and Fort Washington Ave.  The cathedral-like entrance is similar to design to the elevator entrance at 190th Street station.  The south end has 3 escalators to fare control level, then exit can be made by any one of the 4 street stairs. There is a sign to Yeshiva University. 






175th Street/G W Bridge Bus Terminal (Originally 175th Street) Opened 9/10/1932:  This is one of the few stations that has no tile band on either platform wall.  The station first opened as 175th street because the GW Bridge bus terminal was not constructed until 1963.  Full time is at 177th Street with 3 street stairs and block long passageway to GWB Bus terminal, 2 tracks on island platform and 6 stairs from full-length mezzanine to platform.  The northernmost stair is exit only; all others are full entry or exit from either fare control.   The Part time side at 175th street has ghost booth (closed in 2003), 24/7 HEET access and 2 street stairs.  The station is fully ADA accessible, except for the passageway to the bus station which contains steps.  (The bus terminal is neither ADA, nor wheelchair accessible to begin with).  At the time the station (and the rest of the line) opened, the nearby George Washington Bridge was not even a year old; it opened on 10/25/1931.  The combined work of 2 agencies (Port Authority for the GWB, IND for the subway), show how the Washington Heights and Inwood neighborhoods exploded in population, even with the adversary of the 1929 Great Depression. 




168th Street (Originally 168th Street-Washington Heights) Opened 9/10/1932:  Is discussed on the complexes page 




145th Street-Harlem (St. Nicholas Ave between 145th and 147th Streets) opened 9/10/1932 This station has 2 levels, the upper level is where the A ( See A Lefferts and A Rockaway)  and C trains stop, and the lower level is where the Concourse B and D trains stop here.  There are 2 full time mezzanines, one at 145th street (4 street stairs available, one for each corner), and the other at 147th street (2 street stairs).  Each side has 3 stairs from mezzanine to the upper level, and 1 escalator from each mezzanine, directly down to the Uptown only side lower level (B/D) platform.  There are no escalators from the downtown side to upper level.  Like many other IND stations when first opened, it had a full length mezzanine connecting both of today's mezzanines; this space is now used by the NYPD as a Transit Bureau District Office.  Unknown to most people, there was also exits in the middle of the closed mezzanine, there actually is (what appears to be) an original 1932 IND sign on the Downtown, upper level side that sits overhead in the middle of the platform. To see this sign, you need to stand and face the north end it reads "exit to street".  Outside of the station, on the street, an closed and slabbed over staircase still sits on the NW corner of 146th Street and St. Nicholas.  The upper level is 4 tracks and 2 island platforms; however the lower level has 3 tracks and 2 island platforms.  The Uptown platform on the lower level is wider than the Downtown platform, the possible IND plan was to make the Concourse line in the Bronx as 4 tracks, but plans were scaled back down to 3.  The Concourse line opened a year later after the first IND line (1933).  This station is where midday and evening B trains terminate on the middle track before returning back to Brooklyn.  During AM and PM rush hours, the same middle track is used by D Concourse express trains in the peak direction traveled only (AM Southbound and PM Northbound).  From this point down to 59th Street/Columbus Circle, there are 4 lines (A, B, C, D) running.  From 145th the train enters a maze of complex switches, but is actually easier to figure things out when you ride area between these points a few times each way. 



125th Street (125th Street and Saint Nicholas Ave.)  Opened 9/10/1932 Express stop in the heart of Harlem's busiest commercial strip, it is an express stop with 4 tracks and 2 island platforms. The station had a renovation in the 1980's, during which the set of stairs to each platform at the north end were removed.  The current plan restored these 2 stairs at the far North end.  Station has full length mezzanine with one each of  Full time and Part time fare control areas.  Full time side at 125th street has 4 street stairs and Part time side has 2 street stairs. There are 5 stairs to each platform.  There are large scale photos of Harlem in the 1920's and 1930's.In the middle of the mezzanine, there is evidence of closed stairs and exits to 126th street, one on each side.  One of the stairs appears to lead into a business that existed at street level.  The tile band on the platform walls is untouched from the 1980's renovation and is green 





59th Street Columbus Circle opened on 9/10/1932 and is described on the Complexes Page 





42nd Street Port Authority Bus Terminal opened on 9/10/1932 and is described on the Complexes Page 





34th Street Penn Station opened on 9/10/1932 and has four tracks. There are two wall platforms serving the local trains and an island platform serving the express trains. It was renovated by Citnalta Construction Company and features art on the lower Mezzanine with a Madison Square Garden theme and has full ADA to all platforms. Alongside the walls of both local platforms are nice IND style replica lettering and tablets showing "Madison Square Garden" . The Garden did not open at their current location until 36 years after the station opened ( 1968) A source within Citnalta advised the curved wall was a real challenge for them (and they did do very well.). The station also has exits to Penn station which serves NJT, LIRR, and Amtrak. One fallacy exists with the renovation—the lower mezzanine’s booth is closed overnight and a big backup trying to enter and exit via the HEETs. It is remedied only by crowd control or NYPD opening the turnstiles. This station has numerous ghost booths. Your webmaster has had excellent cooperation from employees, supervisors and managers of the many contractors (in house or external) renovating stations and extends our thanks for their generous assistance.

According to the MTA web site"...The Garden of Circus Delights is the artist's homage to the circus, which makes annual visits to Madison Square Garden, located above the station, and also connected to the Long Island Rail Road. Eric Fischl's work is narrative and this work follows in this tradition. A series of murals takes commuters from the familiar to the bizarre circus world. "I thought it would be amusing," Fischl says, "to do a contemporary Dante's Inferno, to turn commuting into a spiritual quest." The murals portray fire-breathers, acrobats, and animals; gradually one realizes that a commuter has left home and been pulled into the circus, where he meets incredible circus characters and then, on the other side of the tent, he emerges in the white light and harmony, a commuter again, but transported and transformed."




14th Street opened on 9/10/1932 and is described on the Complexes Page 



West 4th Street-Washington Square (Ave of the Americas between West 3rd St and Waverly Place) Upper level opened 9/10/1932, Lower level opened 12/15/1940. has four tracks on the upper level, serving A,( see A Lefferts and A Rockaway)  C and E trains, a lower Mezzanine and then a lower level serving B, D, F, M and former  V trains. The lower Mezzanine is full width and length and also holds numerous offices for NYCT. The north end of the upper level has exits to the street. The south end of the upper level ramps up to a crossover and a booth. Full ADA is in progress via the south end.. A tower is at the south end of the southbound lower level platform. The North exit leads to West Eighth Street and the south to west Third Street. The exit to west Fourth Street has been removed. The station has a secondary name of Washington Square. The lower Mezzanine is full width and length and also holds numerous offices for NYCT. The north end of the upper level has exits to the street. The south end of the upper level ramps up to a crossover and a booth. Full ADA is  via the south end.. A tower is at the south end of the southbound lower level platform. The North exit leads to West Eighth Street and the south to west Third Street. The exit to west Fourth Street has been removed. The station has a secondary name of Washington Square.  




Canal Street (on 6th Avenue at Canal Street) opened on 0/10/1932 and has four tracks and two offset island platforms (the offset is due to switches at both ends) with a crossunder at the extreme south end only. There is an artwork entitled “A Gathering” installed in 2000. It is by Walter Martin and Paloma Munoz and features 188 birds in fourteen lifelike poses. The American Museum of Natural History assisted the designers with this project by providing specimens to study. It has been renovated and had closed passageway and exit to Grand Street.  It was closed due to security concerns by NYCT and the Transit Police (at that time before the 1998 merger.)

According to the MTA web Site "...Bronze sculptures on token booth, railings, and beams throughout mezzanine. Walter Martin and Paloma Muñoz have turned the Canal Street Station into a subterranean aviary. There are dozens of birds - 174 grackles and blackbirds, in a number of different poses, and seven crows, all cast in bronze and given a glossy black patina. They are seen roosting on railings and perched in groups, like people waiting for the train, watching, lost in thought, or chatting. Birds, the artists note, are very social creatures - just like New Yorkers, and riders may find echoes of themselves and other subway riders in their lively expressions. Canal Street is a busy commercial thoroughfare, devoid of nature. A Gathering compensates for this by enlivening the space and providing respite from the dense traffic and bustling commercialism above."                                                                                                                          





Chambers Street WTC opened 9/10/1932 and is described on the Complexes Page 




Fulton Street (formerly Broadway Nassau) opened on 2/1/1933 and is described on the Complexes Page 

Brooklyn Tile Band





High Street Brooklyn Bridge opened on 2/1/1933 and has two tracks and an island platform in a tube design. There are exits at both ends to the full Mezzanine along with evidence (gated stairways) of removed center exits to the Mezzanine. The F Train joins us for one station and we enter the next station. 





Jay Street Metro Tech (on Jay Street at Willoughby Street. Multiple entrances all the way from Fulton Mall to Myrtle Avenue on Jay Street) opened on 2/1/1933 and has four tracks and two island platforms. As currently configured there is a mezzanine most of the length of the platforms and a passageway to Fulton Street outside the paid area. There are also HEETs to allow access to Fulton Street.. Based on tile evidence this station has many ghost booths and sealed exits. There are also entrances  to the NYCT building at both ends, the north leading directly into the building and is guarded by Transit Property Protection Agents. This end also has an intermediate level outside the subway entrance there was also a paper transfer to the elevated Myrtle Avenue el which ran on Myrtle Avenue and met the brown M train at Broadway Myrtle and is now demolished. The F train leaves us and we press on. This station has been connected to the R train Lawrence Street Station  with a new in system transfer. This complex is described on the complexes page




Hoyt Schermerhorn opened 4/9/1936 and is a very unusual station which has lots to see. It has six tracks and four island platforms of which only the inner pair of platforms are in use. The two outer island platforms are used for movie and commercial shoots. The A ( See A Lefferts and  A Rockaway)  and C use the local side of the open island platforms and the G uses the express. There are numerous sealed stairways and exits including a sealed passageway to Livingston Street and the long gone Loesser’s Department Store via direct entrance to the store. A police facility also occupies the mezzanine along with various NYCT offices. The last use of the outer platforms was for the Aqueduct Race Track specials. While not done today, trains on the local track of the open island could open doors on the closed island’s express track but bold red signs at the conductor’s position  advise “ DO NOT OPEN DOORS—WRONG SIDE”. The “local” tracks on the closed wall platforms lead to the Transit Museum (Court Street Station) and were once used for the short lived Court Street Shuttle which ran from Hoyt to Court Street. Based on track numbers, these tracks were planned to continue to today’s World Trade Center Station on the E train.  (Both lines share the same track letter codes. For more information on this see www.nycsubway.org and Brennan’s page 




Nostrand Avenue  (on Fulton Street at Nostrand Avenue) opened on4/9/1936 and is a unique two level station with two wall platforms and two tracks on the upper level and two wall platforms with a curtain wall which hides two more tracks or trackways! In an interesting arrangement the express tracks use the upper level rather than the lower level, the only station in the entire NYC subway system to have that arrangement.  This station was originally planned to be a local station with a mezzanine. The upper platforms are double wide which would eastbound consistent with the design of a Mezzanine. There is a closed passageway with a crossover to Bedford Avenue at the north end of the upper level along with a closed exit to Arlington Place. The lower level has a curtain wall separating the two tracks. If you are fortunate enough to get a rail fan window view you can see the express rising and see the local track directly under the express platforms. If you had x-ray vision the local tracks are under the express platforms. There is no direct entrance to the LIRR station which is two blocks south on street. From the northbound platform’s south end a hole in the curtain wall allows a bright flashlight beam to show the two center tracks or trackways.  




Utica Avenue (On Fulton Street at Utica Avenue) opened on 4/9/1936 and has four tracks and two wall platforms. This station has a shell for a future Utica Avenue IND subway. For more information see Brennan’s page and www.nycsubway.org.  Platforms widen toward the center. There are exists at both ends and the center. The center exit leads to an intermediate level and has an artwork entitled “Children’s Cathedral” by Jimmy James Greene and was installed in 1996. A close look at the ceiling reveals the trackways for this future subway as well as double doors on the intermediate level at the center exit.  The once full mezzanine's center portion is now employee space and holds a big secret-- A mosaic tablet points the way to a slabbed over exit to Stuyvesant avenue. 

 According to the MTA Web site "...Ceramic mosaic and iron grillwork in passageways leading to platforms. Dominating one of Jimmy James Greene's huge mosaic panels in the Utica Avenue station is a plump yellow angel on rollerblades. Perhaps more than any image in the ten panels that compose Children's Cathedral, this demonstrates the artist's intentions: to reflect the desires, dreams and memories of the community's children in their own drawings. "At first," he says, "I talked with the kids about how they play, learn, pray, and celebrate. Then they drew." What emerged were images of the neighborhood: shops, a woman pushing a baby carriage, a teacher in class, plants, flowers, and, most of all, children in action: singing in choir, jumping rope, reading, riding bikes. The artist took hundreds of the children's images and arranged them into eight groupings, adding color to the pencil drawings. "They were the soloists," he says, "I was the orchestra leader."




Broadway Junction (Entrance at Van Sinderen Avenue between Fulton Street and Eastern Parkway) open on 12/30/1946 as Broadway East New York and is described on the Complexes Page 




Euclid Avenue (on Pitkin Avenue at Euclid Avenue) opened on 11/28/1948 and has four tracks and two island platforms. It represents the first expansion of the IND since the Sixth Avenue Line opened in 1940There is a crossover at the south end. This is the end of the C train. Normally the C uses the local track but can use the express track. which is currently used by the A Train.




Grant Avenue (On Grant Avenue mid block between Glenmore and Pitkin Avenues) opened 4/29/1956 and has two tracks and an island platform. The Mezzanine is near the center and is at street level. Tile is green in a soldier course. Our tile master advises the proper color of the tile band should be purple. A glimpse into the tunnel at the south end reveals a track entering from the geographic south and comes from Pitkin Yard. 

We now leave the subway and ramp up to a remnant of the old BMT Fulton Street el. Our line now has three tracks with the center tracking coming from Pitkin Yard 





80th street Hudson Street (on Liberty Avenue at 80th Street) opened 4/29/1956 and has three tracks and two wall platforms with a crossunder at both ends. The north exit leads to 77th street and the south to 80th street. 





88th Street Boyd Avenue (on Liberty Avenue at 88th Street) opened 4/29/1956 and has three tracks and two wall platforms with a crossunder at both ends. The north exit now closed leads to 86th street and the south to 88th street. 




Rockaway Boulevard (on Liberty Avenue at Woodhaven Boulevard and 94th Street) opened 4/29/1956 and has three tracks and two wall platforms with a crossunder at both ends. The North exit leads to 94th street, Woodhaven and Cross Bay Boulevards. The south exit leads to Rockaway Boulevard and 96th Street. 

We leave Rockaway Blvd and the Lefferts A , and now enter the newest part of the A line, a direct connection from the old Fulton Ave el. to the Rockaways via the old LIRR right of way.  The original LIRR Far Rockaway branch ran all the way up between 98th and 101st Streets and through Forest Hills along Alderton Street.  There was a connection to the LIRR main line during the 1939 Worlds Fair.  The A line from this point to Far Rockaway (as well as the H to Rockaway Park) is the same line and same stations as the original LIRR line.  In 1950, a multi-alarm fire nearly gutted on of the LIRR trestles near Broad Channel, after that incident the LIRR sold the ROW rights to NYCTA, relocated the LIRR Far Rockaway station to the current location at Redfern Ave and Hassock Streets, and permitted NYCTA to rebuild the current stations to their specifications (e.g. mezzanines, double fare control areas, exit only wheels, new platforms, etc.).  The Mott Ave-Far Rockaway station was built in 1958 as a new station and does not represent the original LIRR, grade level station.  The IND also pinned hopes on building a subway line long before the 1950 LIRR fire, by constructing the Winfield/Rockaway spur up to the Queens Blvd line (along the same ROW mentioned), and have trains terminate at a lower level of the Roosevelt Ave/Jackson Heights terminal station, or run through to the Queens Blvd line in either direction.  This plan never materialized 




Aqueduct Race Track (inside parking lot and Grandstand entrance to Aqueduct Race Track): opened  6/28/1956 The station is only open when the adjacent Aqueduct race track is open during the winter and early spring months.  There is only one platform and contains only HEET access, there are 4 ghost booths are various locations.  The platform is only Manhattan-bound, but during Aqueduct Specials from the late 1950’s to the mid-1960’s, trains departed from the 42nd Street-Port Authority lower level station and would cross over to the Manhattan-bound A line track in order to stop at this station.  Currently the station is open from 11 AM to 7 AM on racing days and only Manhattan-bound A trains stop here.  From Manhattan, take the A to Aqueduct-North Conduit station, use the crossunder and board a Manhattan-bound A train back 





Aqueduct North Conduit Avenue (North Conduit Ave, between Race Track Road and Cohancy Street) opened 6/28/1956: 2 side platforms, 4 tracks, mezzanine and cross-under at street level.  The mezzanine and stairs to Full time area are at the extreme south end of this station.  There is an additional exit-only at north end of Rockaway-bound platform that leads to Aqueduct Racetrack.  Evidence shows LIRR-type exit steps near the south end, it currently has a chain link fence.  Only the 2 tracks are used in service, the 2 so-called “express” tracks are rarely used.  The platforms are extra long, about 800 feet in length and 200 feet more than a standard IND platform length.   





Howard Beach JFK Airport (Coleman Square at 159th Avenue/103rd Road) Opened 6/28/1956:  This station is fully renovated and ADA compliant.  It lies next to the new JFK AirTrain next door and features wide glass panels and beautiful sights of trains arriving at this station when looking out from the mezzanine level above.  The mezzanine is shared by both NYCT and AirTrain fare controls.  Station has 4 tracks, 2 side platforms, each platform has one set of stairs, escalators, and ADA elevator.  Another elevator leads to street level opposite the AirTrain station.  Rockaway side has new HEET entrance and steps to Coleman Square on street, while the Northbound side has a gate directly to a temporary bus area for shuttle buses parking area when a G.O. affects service on the A line.  Closed passageway and mezzanine to the north end of Manhattan-bound platform is still there, this was the original setup of Port Authority shuttle buses prior to the opening of AirTrain when the JFK Express first ran in 1978.  Outside the station and on the Southbound side (opposite the AirTrain side), there is an old LIRR entrance at the north end, separate from the current station, it is boarded up and steps are visible.  The JFK Express service was discontinued in 1989 due to budgetary reasons and declining ridership. During times when the train ends at Howard Beach, supervision stations an employee and bus fare box at the Northbound platform gate to the JFK airport parking lot. Shuttle bus  is free, but a customer pays at Howard Beach by dipping their MetroCard in the bus farebox. The bus to the Rockaways from the JFK Airport parking lot.

Leaving Howard Beach, we merge into two tracks and are treated to the most beautiful run in the entire NYC subway system, a six minute run over Jamaica Bay, across the North Channel Bridge (one of two bridges to the Rockaways), and make a fast run to Broad Channel along what is called the “Flats”.  Many photo opportunities can be yours as you can see planes take off and land at JFK Airport to the East (looking to the left) and Cross Bay Blvd to the west.  It’s even better if you are lucky enough to be on an Rail Fan window R32 train on your way out.  Just before entering Broad Channel, 1 track on each side is visible, they are both bumper block only.  We are in the middle 2 tracks first, the track next to the Manhattan-bound side is a relay track for H Rockaway Shuttle trains turning back here.  The south relay track is not used, but it may be there as a spare track to relay a second train, if necessary.  Before these tracks were installed in the mid-1990’s, the H shuttle would have to dead-heat (run light or empty) from Broad Channel all the way up to one of the 2 unused express tracks at Howard Beach station and relay back down to Broad Channel. 




Broad Channel (East 8th Road at West Road) opened 6/28/1956:  This station is a clear example of NYCT converting the station from LIRR to subway use.  Like other station conversions along the Rockaways, there are pre-1950 LIRR footprints left behind.  One is an abandoned entrance at the very north end of the South platform with steps, a sign “Exit Only” gives the indication that this exit was converted to exit only when the line was already acquired by NYCTA for the 1956 conversion.  The other gives the appearance of an extra long platform (like Aqueduct and Howard Beach stations.), plus possible evidence of an island platform on the Rockaway-bound side. Original 1956 engraved directional signs to street are on both platform walls.  The H Rockaway shuttle starts here, 

After leaving Broad Channel, we take another deep breath and cross the South Channel Bridge before entering the Rockaways.  Before we split up, the Rockaway-bound track depresses below the Manhattan-bound track to allow use to diverge left.  The H shuttle trains diverge to the  left and in the middle of the diverge is Hammels Tower, fully functional and in use.  This section is called Hammels Wye for its triangular track configuration.  While the Far Rockaway track continues east and the Rockaway Park tracks continue west, a single .60 mile track connects both branches.  This track was used in regular service during late night “round robin” moves of the H shuttle.  The late night H shuttle started from Euclid Ave and would travel to Rockaway Park first.  After a brief layover, the H would double back to Beach 90th Street, then use the single track long Hammels Wye to connect with the Far Rockaway branch.  The train would run to Far Rockaway, then another layover and the train would return back to Euclid Ave along the regular A route.  This service was tedious for several reasons: 

  1. It would cause problems for a rider to get TO a Far Rockaway station from any station Broad Channel or north because the lightly patronized Rockaway Park branch would be the first stops.
  2. Any early bird customer from the 4 Rockaway Park stations, would have to travel to the Far Rockaway branch first before turning forward towards Brooklyn and Manhattan.
  3. Most times customers would make a quick dash to double back at Beach 90th Street (to go towards Far Rockaway), or Beach 60th Street (to go towards Euclid Ave), and be one train ahead, and it does work.  But the few times where the opposing train just left is too much of a hassle to wait 20 minutes for the same train they were on to come back, as well as the general safety of the area at night.

In 1990, NYCT made one of the smartest moves by figuring out the Far Rockaway branch had more late night ridership than the Rockaway Park or even the Lefferts Blvd branch.  In doing so, the A to Far Rockaway was now assigned as the full time 24/7, while the late night shuttle service was introduced from Euclid Ave to Lefferts Blvd, and the H continued service as a 24/7 shuttle between Broad Channel and Rockaway Park.  In addition, five A trains from Rockaway Park were added during the AM and PM rush, in the peak direction only (They leave RP at about 6:39 to 8:09 AM, and from 59th Street/Columbus Circle at about 4:19 to 5:40 PM, every 20 minutes.)   

All of the Rockaway Stations on both sides except for Beach 116th Street which has already been done and Mott Avenue Far Rockaway have been renovated by WDF. It is not known which contractor  has the contract for Mott Avenue.





Beach 67th Street Gaston Avenue (Beach 67th Street on Rockaway Freeway) opened 6/28/1956 The Full time side is at the south end with 4 street stairs and stairs to each platform.  The mezzanine layout does relive the memories of longtime Rockaway residents that separate entry and exit turnstiles were set up.  The entry turnstiles are all on one side of the booth, while the exit turnstiles were on the opposite side of the booth.  Since the elimination of a double fare imposed on all travel south of Broad Channel, the standard steel gates replace the turnstiles.  A sealed exit is at the north end of the Far Rockaway-bound platform and has a non-functional high wheel turnstile specially designed to collect single fares upon exiting.  The extreme long length of this and other platforms along both Rockaway branches does indicate the LIRR left its footprints here after the transfer of ownership to NYCTA in the 1950's. Artwork is by Ingo Fast and is entitled On and Off the Boardwalk, 2011. It is Laminated glass

Ingo Fast's series of 17 laminated glass panels for the Beach 67th Street station at Arverne in the Rockaways, Queens, is partially installed, with artwork on the southbound platform; the rest of the work will be installed on the northbound platform as work there is completed. Fast creates amusing figures and landscapes, rendered in thin lines, washed in color, and seen from unusual vantage points.

For this project he created a series of drawings that feature scenes from the neighborhood: families going to the beach, a roller coaster ride from the days of Rockaway Playland, which was located nearby, fireworks, and lazy summer days. As counterpoint, a pair of panels shows an ice skater enjoying the deserted beach community, still bright and vibrant under a winter sky .





Beach 60th Street Straiton Avenue (Beach 59-60th Streets on Rockaway Freeway) Opened 6/28/1956:  The Full time side is on the south end this time and the closed HXT wheel is on the north end.  A nice water view can be yours at the outside portions of this station. Artwork is by Simon Levenson and is entitled The Beaches of New York City, 2011. It is  Glass block

Artist Simon Levenson paints figures at the beach in various poses in this work, which has the benefit of strong light that comes from the nearby beach being depicted. Levenson creates his figures serially, so they may be read in sequence as one reads a story. The southbound side of the station faces the ocean and has the brightest light and contains two large panels with larger than life-size figures filling the space amid the cool blue of the ocean. On the northbound side, the glass block contains a sequence of smaller vignettes that extend from sand to the sea in one long band. The view of the sequence depends upon the transit riders’ path going up to or down from the elevated platform.

The artwork was created in glass block which is located in the mezzanine area which is above the street and below the platform. The fabrication technique echoed Levenson’s brushwork, with hand painting of the individual half-blocks, which were then laminated to clear blocks. The resulting work is durable and allows light to come though. In the evening the illuminated interiors will light the work so it can be seen by those approaching the station.

The figures –many are children with their mothers- are seen in free and unguarded moments of delight that often comes as the sand meets the surf. Levenson has long painted such beach scenes and speaks of his childhood memories at the beach, “where life’s greatest and smallest dramas play out on a daily basis."  





Beach 44th Street Frank Avenue (Beach 44th Street on Rockaway Freeway) Opened 6/28/1956 The Full time side is this time in the middle of the platform, no closed exits are at this station. Artwork is by Jill Parisi and is entitled Coom Barroom, 2011. It is Glass block

At the Beach 44 Street station, artist Jill Parisi used the scale allowed by walls of glass block to create imaginary sea creatures. In resplendent colors and intricate patterns they appear to float on the glass. These hybrid species are inspired by an unusual marine anomaly nearby, where the Gulf Stream carries various tropical fish to the region. Parisi referenced botanical cross-sections, jellyfish, sting rays, and triggerfish, in order to create the original works on paper that were later translated into the glass medium. These over-scaled and overlapping shapes and the play of sunlight on the glass create the sensation that you are looking underwater.

The subject matter is appropriate for a station that is situated in front of the ocean, in an area discussed as a future marine preserve. The strong sunlight that reaches the southbound mezzanine fills the station as light is refracted through the glass blocks, causing the entire wall to glow. In the evening the wall is illuminated from within, providing an outdoor view of the artwork.

Parisi titled the work after a passage from William Carlos Williams’ prose poem, Spring and All, which contains many playful singsong lines including ‘coom barrooom-‘, which mimics the sound of crashing waves.

Parisi works mostly with handmade paper, using drawing and printmaking to create large-scale installations and small sculptures. Many of her prints and drawings are delicate hand painted works inspired by organic forms. In commenting on the experience of creating this work, she said, “I am very interested in creating a feeling of lightness and beauty for the viewer. I have also wanted to work in a more permanent medium for some time, and as a result of this project I have realized that glass in very fitting for my work. It interacts beautifully with architecture and nature." 





Beach 36th Street Edgemere (Beach 36th Streets on Rockaway Freeway) Opened 6/28/1956:  The Full time side is also near the center of the platform and like Beach 44th Street, it is the only fare control area and there is no sealed exit on the Far Rockaway side. Artwork is by  George Bates and is entitled Symphonic Convergence 1&2, 2011. It is Glass block

A dominant theme in George Bates’ work is convergence and how nature, objects, and people meet and form a greater whole. If you view only the individual components of the whole you may fail to see the larger ideas and systems to which they are connected. At B.36th Street, he designed a lyrical composition with a bold, yet playful spirit, that expresses his feelings about the Rockaways. Created in glass block in the station stair landings, the glass brings in light and brightens the station. The design on the south bound side, which receives the strongest light, features a spiral formed of people’s heads, rendered in deep blue and heavy line. These are profiles that overlap one another, building up and snowballing into a large element, a community. This main section is accented by bursts and waves of color, pops of yellow among strikes of blue and occasional reds. Different elements were designed to reveal themselves at closer viewing. From afar the works reads as one unified design.

The northbound side of the station also has a large circular form; here it is bands of waving color set among abstracted and small scale geometric patterns. In the rhythm and flavor of the work, Bates shows his expertise as an artist who is best known for a vivid and animated style. Here he distills the essence of the beach side community that surrounds Beach 36 Street – with a spirited joyous rendition that achieves its musical like title, with its waves and crescendos of color, pattern and form.

The art will resonate over time with riders making their daily commute to and from the station. In addition, the strong ocean light will project through the thick glass and the bands of color, creating colorful shadows that change as the sun passes overhead. At night the glass block artwork will appear to glow from within due to the station’s mezzanine interior light.

Bates is familiar with the neighborhood and the state of mind found in New York City’s beachfront string of neighborhoods. An avid surfer, he has been a regular visitor for over twenty years, forming bonds with locals and the landscape, in which he is pleased to have a hand, in his permanent artwork at the station.                                            





Beach 25th Street Wavecrest (Beach 25th Street on Rockaway Freeway) opened on 06/28/1956 has two tracks and two wall platforms which can hold twelve cars of 85 feet in length. It is on a concrete viaduct with ballasted track. Exit is near the center to the tile mezzanine. It is four stories high. This was the temporary end of the lien until the next station opened. Artwork is by Mauricio Lopez and is entitled Past/Present/Future, 2011. It is Faceted glass

Through Past/Present/Future, Mauricio Lopez distills his perception of the Rockaway’s landscape with its streets and buildings that are framed by the continuous change of colors and textures of open sky, ocean, and bay.

Past and Present are depicted through a variation of light and seasonal colors and abstract shapes of the landscape. Future is reflected by new developments and the environment, reflected through different levels of transparency in the glass. The various layers present both a timeline and an organic portrayal of the community.

In creating the artwork, Mauricio was inspired by the powerful natural setting of the Rockaways that has provided life for centuries and attracted many to move to the area in the last 150 years. As people from Rockaway may say, “Once you get sand in your shoes, you’ll come back.” Lopez’s artwork honors those who have lived and live in the Rockaway and their tenacity and commitment to their community.






Mott Avenue Far Rockaway opened on 01/16/1958 has two tracks on a concrete viaduct with an island platform. Doors lead to the stairs to the street level booth. A tower is at the North end as is a possible closed exit used as offices. The connection to the LIRR Far Rockaway Line has been removed and now requires a short walk. Artwork is by Jason Rohlf and is entitled Respite, 2011. It is Laminated glass

New glass artwork at the Mott Avenue terminal building brings brightness, color, and stature to the building, which received a new interior and easier access. The opportunity to create art throughout the terminal headhouse provided the artist with a large canvas to realize his vision, and the strong light that surrounds the terminal made glass the medium of choice.

Artist Jason Rohlf created original paintings for the project, which were translated into hand-painted laminated glass panels, and treated to achieve the artist’s preference for a textured, multi-layered appearance. The artwork is visible to all who enter or leave the station – and on both sides of the elevated platform where it meets the stairs and elevator. The art encompasses the NYC transit station, beaming light and color throughout the architectural space.

Respite is an abstract landscape of birds perched on outstretched branches. The colors in the birds blend into the branches, symbolizing the connection between people and their community The series of luminous glass panels features three distinct color themes (green for dawn, blue for midday and orange for dusk) and relate to the strong links between nature and light in this seaside community.

“As an artist, this project was a fantastic opportunity to really impact the architecture and create work that serves to connect the viewers with the surrounding landscape”, said Jason Rohlf. The colors in the glass reflect into shadows that splash throughout the station, providing a welcome and vibrant addition to the rider’s experience.



Home >  NYCT>  > Transit Today >B  Division > A Rockaway

Contact us at subway-buff@stationreporter.net

 Last revised 1/3/13

All rights reserved by Station reporter.net.

Permission granted to use brief citations with a statement "courtesy of www.stationreporter.net"