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42nd Street/ Bryant Park Complex

This complex serves the IND B/D/F, and weekday only V trains, at the newly renamed 42nd Street-Bryant Park station, with a free transfer passageway to the IRT #7 Flushing line at 5th Ave/42nd Street station.  The entire complex was renovated by NYCT in-house forces in 1998, and represents their largest undertaking to date.

42nd Street-Bryant Park (West 42nd Street at Ave of the Americas) Opened 12/15/1940:  This is an express stop, with 4 tracks on 2 island platforms, and 3 fare control areas over 2 mezzanines.  While the 1998 renovation makes the station more pleasing to use, some of the work was actually done in the late 1960's to early 1970's, the transfer passageway to the IRT station was constructed in 1968, and had large scale photographs of the NY Public Library’s research center (the largest library in NYC), and the skyscrapers nearby.  These photos were removed during the renovation and were replaced by another artwork design.  Another entrance at the W/S 6th Ave and 2nd Street was renovated and the passageway extended when the new NY Telephone now Verizon) building was built in the early 1970's, while a 3rd entrance at the N/E corner of 42nd and 6th is integrated with the building's design, and is the world headquarters for Home Box Office and their sister Cinemax cable station (HBO and Cinemax are owned by Time Warner).  The F/T mezzanine is at the south side of West 42nd Street and both sides of 6th Ave, with the office building passageway exit, and 2 other street stairs in front of Bryant Park.  The P/T areas are 1. North side of West 42nd Street and both sides of 6th Ave, with 4 street stairs, including the HBO exit, and 2. West 40th Street and 6th Ave, all 4 corners have an exit each.  The West 40th Street end has the closed passageway to the 34th Street-Herald Square complex, with 2 additional stairs at West 38th Street and 6th Ave.  This out-of-system walking passageway was one of the longest in the IND system and was closed in mid-1980 due to security concerns.  Alongside the exits outside Bryant Park, the entrances are not your usual green entrance look; steel bars are blended in with the perimeter of the park's fence.  In a fascinating display, the top of the bars around subway/park entrances have the gold fleur de lis, the family coat of arms used by France for nearly 1,000 years.  The fleur de lis is also prominently displayed atop stationhouses along the #1 line from 207th to 242nd Streets.

The complex was made possible by a new transfer passageway.  Built in 1968, for only the second time in the IRT Flushing Line history it allowed, a direct free transfer to the IND system.  The current artwork along the passageway is entitled  Under Bryant Park by Sam Kunce and was installed in 2002  it has 2 displays, one facing the wall on the downtown side near the F/T booth area and suggests greenery over a mountain range, with a quote taken from a poem by Carl Gustav Jug (1875-1961).  The second artwork stretches along most of the transfer passageway and it looks like a topology of a mountain rage, along with lightning over a white background.  Some of the quotes dot both walls as you walk down the passageway, among them, the "Ulysses" writer James Joyce and from the classic children's tale, "Mother Goose's Jack and Jill". 

Fifth Ave /Bryant Park (On south side of West 42nd Street, just east of 5th Ave) Opened 3/22/1926:  Station has 2 tracks on 1 island platform, the platform slopes down at the far eastern end.  F/T booth is at eastern end, and has 1 staircase to 42nd Street; it was built in front of the NY Public Library.  Most of the mosaics were preserved during the renovation, the "5" mosaics on both track walls, as well as the original IRT directional signs "6th Ave/5th Ave".  The P/T side is mid-block on 42nd Street between 5th and 6th Avenues, and has ghost booth, HEET access and 3 street stairs.  Portions of the mezzanine have areas where you can look down at the Flushing-bound tracks and roadbed.    

In commenting on this art, MTA's web site states: "...Glass, stone, and marble mosaic walls in passageway between 42nd Street and 5th Avenue stations,One of the largest artworks in the MTA system runs under 42nd Street along the corridor connecting the B, D, F, V lines with the 7 train. Above the site is the Main Library and Bryant Park, which are reflected in the artwork below. On the walls of the tunnel we see rock outcroppings, tree roots, pipes, animal burrows, and literary quotations. The artist based the project on the idea of systems. In her words, "People travel the subway system, water and other utility services are delivered by pipes, and plants and trees that provide grace and softness against the city's sharper edges find their way to water and nutrients underground through a system of roots. In a similar way, literature is shared by systems of learning and lending, and many animals inhabit systems of burrows just as humans systematically divide portions of larger habitats aboveground." At the west end of the tunnel, color asserts itself in a frieze of rock and plant forms with a quote from psychologist Carl Jung: "Nature must not win the game, but she cannot lose."


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 Last revised 01/30/2011

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