Anniversary of the Opening of New York City’s First Subway Line

October 27, 2011, marks the 107th anniversary of the opening of the first section of the New York City subway. The line ran from City Hall to 145th St and Broadway, incorporating portions of what are now the IRT Lexington Av lines (4)(5)(6), the 42nd Street shuttle (S) and the IRT Broadway-7th Av lines (1)(2)(3). Although there had been elevated lines in Manhattan and Brooklyn operating as early as the 1870’s, the new subway was the first to be built underground with the exception of one station that was elevated. The diagonal portion of W. 125th St (then known as Manhattan St) runs along the bottom of a valley and it was deemed more practical to build this station above ground. The semicircular bridge span at 125th St and Broadway is today a registered landmark.

Four of the original stations are now closed – at City Hall, Worth St and 18th St on the east side, and at 91st St on the west side. The City Hall station, a beautiful example of vaulted architecture closed since 1941, can still be viewed by riding a southbound (6) train around the loop south of Brooklyn Bridge-City Hall station. Note that the stations at Grand Central (express) and Times Square (local) are today used by the 42nd Street shuttle (S) line, although the platforms and tracks have been altered since the IRT assumed its current “H” arrangement (complete trunk lines on the east side and west side) in 1918.

The above map shows the original subway line over the 1924 Aerials.

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