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Court Square Complex

Court Square is a complex with three connecting stations and 4 subway lines.  The name Court Square is derived from the Long island City Courthouse on the east side of Jackson Ave at 44th Drive (into Thomson Ave), the park in front of the courthouse and the two adjoining streets on the sides of the court building.  The 3 subway stations were constructed separately (with no free transfers allowed between stations), but in close proximity to each other within the boundaries of . The G runs underneath Jackson Ave , the E and M lines run   underneath 44th Drive  and the  7 line, the only elevated line in this complex, runs over 23rd Street.)

The original Court Square station name was assigned to the G stop on Jackson Ave, now truncated from  the rest of the NYC Transit System in Queens  and is the only full length subway route which does not run into Manhattan. These three stations were constructed between 1916 and 1933. 

History of Court Square and the three stations’ origins:

 In 1913, the City of New York purchased the nearby Steinway Tunnels from August Belmont and proceeded to construct a new subway line between Manhattan and Queens as part of the Dual (IRT/BMT) contracts, passing through what would not be part of the IRT elevated portion of the Court Square complex.  In 1916 the new IRT subway stop, 45th Road-Courthouse (one word) Square, opened for passenger service.  This station was the Flushing line’s first elevated stop and is located on 23rd Street between Jackson Ave and 44th Drive.  In the 1920’s when the City of New York planned to compete against the IRT with their new Independent system (IND), they built two new subway lines in Long Island City, one along Jackson Ave towards Brooklyn, the other along 44th Drive from Manhattan where the lines would merge towards Queens Plaza.  On 8/19/1933, two new IND stations opened, Court Square on the GG line and 23rd Street-Ely Ave on the E (and later, F) lines.  These IND stations comprise the second and third stations in the Court Square complex.  The second station, Court Square (opened in 1933) would be part of the GG line, the only full length regular subway line which does not run to/from Manhattan (and the current G line, still does not run to/from Manhattan). 

The third station, 23rd Street-Ely Ave would be the last stop in Queens before trains run under the East River and then across 53rd Street in midtown Manhattan.  For the next 57 years, these three stations were not connected until Citibank constructed an office tower on 44th Drive between Jackson Ave and 23rd Street, right in close proximity to all three stations. The officer tower, dubbed Citigroup or Citibank building, opened in 1990 while a short time later – as part of the Citibank building – a new underground transfer was built, connecting the 23rd Street-Ely Ave station with the Court Square station along with a new full time entrance from the Citibank building to a fare control area along the transfer passage and between these two stations.   In December, 2001, when the 63rd Street connector opened, the G line was cutback to Court Square on weekdays only, because the new V line increased capacity along the Queens Blvd line.    

To compensate for this service reduction, two new airport-style people movers were installed along the passageway between the E/V and G stations along with a new out-of-system (MetroCard only) transfer between the E/G/V stations underground with the 7 station above ground.. The G used to run to 179th Street during late nights while a long term track project affected late night R service when it ran 24/7 between Brooklyn, Manhattan and Queens), numerous weekend General Orders (for trackwork), necessitated the  G to run between Court Square and Brooklyn only. The cutback became permanent due to track capacity in Queens and due to Manhattan being  the bread and butter of the system.

7 Line (Formerly 45th Road-Courthouse Square) On 23rd Street at Jackson Ave-  Opened 11/5/1916:  This station was renovated in 2012 with new prefabricated wall panels, new platform concrete, new canopy windscreens, and a new mezzanine with ADA access.  This station has two tracks, side platforms, one mezzanine, and three elevators.  There is no evidence of a second mezzanine at the northern end of this station.  The prefabricated wall panels have mesh fencing every 5-10 feet, allowing customers to view the buildings and street next to the station as they wait for the next 7 train.  Windscreens cover 80 percent of the 11 car (approx. 570’) platforms.  Mezzanine at south end has full time booth, one stair to each platform upstairs and two stairs to street level.  One street stair at the Northwest corner of 23rd Street and 45th Road was removed to install an ADA elevator to the Manhattan-bound platform.  Inside fare control is the transfer passage downstairs to the G and E/M stations, all in an enclosed glass passage.  This entrance is maintained by a private business.   Artwork at this station has yet to be installed.   

G line (Court Square) On Jackson Ave at Court Square – Opened 8/29/1933:  This underground station has two track, one island platform and four stairs from mezzanine to platform. South end of mezzanine was expanded with ghost booth and sealed mezzanine area near the 7 line entrance. The  North end has passageway to E/M trains, 7 turnstiles (with ghost booth) and one exit gate, open 24/7.  This mezzanine has exits to Court Square (east side of Jackson Ave, in front of Courthouse) and 44th Drive at Jackson Ave (new entrance when the 1990 free transfer passage opened), in front of Citibank building.  On the platform, crew and supervisory offices cover what may be at least one closed staircase from platform to mezzanine.  North end does not have any evidence of closed staircases.   Just south of the station is an interlocking system between here at 21st Street-Van Alst stations, trains pass through a 3rd center track at least one time to and from the Court Square terminal while they relay back to Brooklyn.   

Between the G mezzanine and E/M mezzanine is the (approx.) 600 feet long free transfer passage.  The full time entrance leads  to the lower level of the Citibank building and the street exit leads to 44th Drive.  Shuttle buses to the International Design Center of NY (IDCNY) buildings on Thomson Ave stop in front of the 44th Drive entrance.  This entrance is wheelchair accessible via. elevator to street.   

E/M lines (Formerly 23rd Street-Ely Ave) – on 44th Drive between 21st and 23rd Streets - Opened 8/29/1933. This station has two tracks and two side platforms.  Station name tablets remain unchanged since the 1933 opening, making it one of two stations with the original IND name tablets untouched after a station name change (the other station is Woodhaven Blvd-Slattery Plaza, now Woodhaven Blvd-Queens Mall).The IND tile ban at this station is burgundy red with black borders.    E trains stop here at all times while M train stop here between 5:45 AM and 11:30 PM weekdays only.   The exit at the North end leads  to the former full time entrance on 44th Drive near 23rd Street - - one exit-only staircase remains.   The South end has a full time booth with two street stairs and a typical IND mezzanine area where there are steps up and down to reach the fare control area.  Original 1933 directional tablets have “to Jamaica” “to Manhattan” at the north mezzanine, and “S. Side 44th Drive” at the south mezzanine.   

There are two artworks commissioned at this complex.  The first artwork installed is “Temple Quad Reliefs” by Frank Olt. Four large ceramic murals celebrate the world of architecture and are set in mural backgrounds.  They are on the platforms and the north mezzanine of the E/M station area.   The murals are subtitled “The Gothic Circle” which inspires NYCT customers in their daily travels, and “The Greek Temple Quad”, which is a symbol of welcome and comfort. The second artwork is Stream by Elizabeth Murray (2001) which was installed along the passageway between the G and E/M stations.   The bright colors of this artwork evoke the many commuters who use this passageway.  Ms. Murray has a similar artwork at the lower mezzanine area of the 59th Street-Lexington Ave (4/5/6/N/Q) complex.

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Last revised 04/19/13

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