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Columbus Circle/59th Street Complex

This complex serves the IRT 1/9 lines with the IND A/B/C/D lines. It is highly unusual as to why the IND allowed a partnership with the IRT to build a complex into the original IRT station like this. It is a two-tiered station with IRT trains on the upper level, while the IND runs on the lower level. It is in the middle of a slight circulation and stairway improvement program what will include ADA accessibility and new stairways to the IND platforms. A separate contract that includes the renovation of the entire complex, is expected to commence in 2005 or early 2006.

IRT 59th Street Columbus-Circle (originally named Columbus Circle; Broadway at north end of Columbus Circle.) Opened 10/27/1904: This is a local stop with 4 tracks and 2 side platforms; there is a sealed crossunder that connected both IRT platforms, without having to descent to either IND platform. This passageway originally was located the downtown side, in front of the staircase leading to the IND mezzanine, to next to the staircase to the Downtown IND platform on the Uptown side. There is a new direct staircase that lies near the exact spot where the crossunder staircase once stood. Descending down the staircase, you can see the "outline" of the crossunder as it curves to the right and goes over the IND platform. At the Uptown side, you can see differences in tile formation, as well as a door opposite the Downtown IND staircase from north fare control, this underpass was sealed for safety reasons. Of all the areas in the entire complex, only the Downtown IRT fare control area and original 1904 station remains the last surviving part, it still has the triplex of the 1904 mosaics of Christopher Columbusí 3 ships. The last mosaic on the north end is missing and possibly was a victim of either vandalism or age. The south end also has the Columbus's Ships mosaic.  The location of the lone staircase is the same as originally built in 1904, though you can see a material difference in tile, yellow tile was added sometime in the 1950ís. Closer at the south end of the original 1904 Downtown platform, and near the IND transfers, there is a replica of the IRT station name tablet, it is not an 1904 original because below it are the standard IND directional signs with the customarily white lettering on black background, along with the IND square tiles. The original 1904 booth on the Uptown side had long been removed and replaced with the current IND booth (it is called north fare control because there is another booth at the south end, both are full time), and is discussed under Fare Controls at the end of this page. The platforms clearly extend on both ends with the bland 1950ís beige wall and tile band. In addition, the Uptown IRT side has another sealed passageway that extended behind the IRT platform to the south end. You can the sealed area on the platform itself at the south end and also on the left side inside north IND fare control, facing the staircases to the IND platforms. The platforms are curved; original 1904 round steel columns are still present.

IND 59th Street-Columbus Circle (From 8th Ave and West 57th Street to Central Park West end of Columbus Circle.) Opened 9/10/1932: Express stop with an highly unusual array of 3 island platforms over 4 tracks. The middle platform is no longer in service and only used for storage of refuse by NYCT cleaners. Only time the center platform is in use are for special NYCT sanctioned weekend fan trips or Transit Museum Nostalgia Train excursions. There used to be exits to West 61st Street, and Central Park West at the far north end (now replaced in the mezzanine area by NYPD Transit District #1) this area is sealed, along with the removal of at least one set of staircases to each platform. The high depth of the ceiling from platform level at the north end also may suggest that an intermediate mezzanine can be built at anytime, should the IND was ever successful in folding the IRT into transit heaven, of course it didnít work. Tile band is purple with top and bottom black borders, there are horizontal crossbeams over the downtown local platform, a rarity in IND express stations. Route selector punch boxes are found at the front end of all 4 tracks, the signal system uses an automatic system (replaced a manual system in 1987), and controlled by 59th Street master tower. Because the tower is unmarked and not visible from any public area within this complex, the location of the tower is not revealed on this site. Because the IND section is in the middle of a stairway replacement program, the number of staircases from fare control to platform level is not listed here because they will change from time to time.

Fare Controls: Except for 2 fare controls on the IRT platforms, the rest of the entrance/exits are shared in this complex. They are as follows, from south end to north end:

West 57th/58th Streets and 8th Ave (South Fare Control): Full time with 4 street stairs at 57th Street, one for each corner within this intersection. At press time, the S/W exit is closed due to a new building being constructed at this end. Through the block long passageway underneath 8th Ave to the south fare control area at West 58th Street and 8th Ave, is an MTA authorized artwork on the right side. Titled "Hello Columbus" (1992) by various artists and students from all grade levels, contains 74 plaques of artwork in commemoration of the 500th anniversary of Columbusí voyage to the "New World". These plaques are inspired by the 1904 IRT mosaics upstairs. In addition to the artwork at this passageway, there are numerous  offices. Upon reaching fare control, there is an east staircase and a west exit, with full up/down escalators and staircase to West 58th Street and 8th Ave; it was renovated in conjunction with the recent construction of the new Time-Warner Building in front of this entrance. This is actually the 3rd renovation of this entrance; the 2nd entrance was the expansion and installation of escalators when the NY Coliseum occupied the current site of the Time Warner building until the early 1980ís. The Coliseum, along with this entrance outside the complex, was built in the 1950ís, for trade shows and exhibitions. However, the inadequate space of NY Coliseum was the main reason why the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center opened in 1984, and the Coliseum was closed shortly thereafter. To illustrate the size of the old Coliseum, the old site was barely 1/4 the size of the current Javits Center. Inside this fare control is a side ramp to the Downtown IRT platform. . It is not known if the student art will return when renovation is completed.

Central Park South at south end of Columbus Circle/Broadway: This is an P/T MetroCard HEET only entrance to the Uptown IRT platform, it was added during the 1950ís platform extensions and features the dull beige tiles wrapped around this entrance. A ghost booth once existed here.

West 60th Street/Central Park West (North Fare Control): Features one large entrance to the Trump Tower Hotel Building (formerly the Gulf & Western Building, then Paramount Building when constructed in the 1970ís), along with an outdoor garden. The exit in front of Central Park is a standard entrance that is blended in with the parkís waist high concrete wall. The fare control is facing south to the IND/IRT platforms, exit only on the north end. Some time ago until the 1980ís, the turnstiles were on both sides of this station.

West 61st Street/Central Park West: Abandoned exit, the NYPD precinct mentioned earlier now covers this area, along with one closed and removed set of staircases. The exit was on the southwestern corner on West 61st Street and off Central Park West. I am sure a ghost booth once existed here when the IND first opened.

Artwork is located at the North entrance to the IND mezzanine entitled Whirls and Twirls  by the late Sol Lewitt and was installed in 2009

 

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 Last revised 01/31/2011

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