IRT Lexington Avenue Line
|IRT Lexington Avenue Line|
|Type||Rapid transit line|
|System||New York City Subway|
|Locale||Manhattan, New York City, NY|
|Stations||27 (23 in use)|
|Daily ridership||1,289,338 |
|Opening||27 October 1904|
|Owner||City of New York|
|Operator(s)||New York City Transit Authority|
|No. of tracks||2-4|
|Track gauge||1,435 mm (4 ft 8 1⁄2 in)|
|Electrification||600V DC third rail|
|IRT Lexington Avenue Line|
The Lexington Avenue Line (also known as the East Side Line) is one of the lines of the IRT division of the New York City Subway, stretching from Downtown Brooklyn or Lower Manhattan north to 125th Street in East Harlem. The portion in Lower and Midtown Manhattan was part of the city's first subway line. The line is served by the 4 5 6 <6> trains.
The line is also known as the IRT East Side Line, as it is currently the only line in Manhattan to directly serve the Upper East Side and East Midtown; this four-track line is the most used rapid transit line in the United States. Its average of 1.3 million daily riders is "more than the combined ridership of San Francisco, Chicago, and Boston’s entire transit systems".
Its ridership also exceeds that of the 798,456 daily trips on the entire Washington Metro and the 703,326 daily trips on the entire Chicago 'L' system. Construction has started on the IND Second Avenue Line to alleviate the severe overcrowding caused by the Lexington Avenue Line's high usage.
Several stations along this line have been abandoned. When platforms were lengthened to fit ten cars, it was deemed most beneficial to close these stations and open new entrances for adjacent stations. For example, 14th Street – Union Square has an entrance on 16th Street and 23rd Street has an entrance on 22nd Street, so the 18th Street station was abandoned because of the proximity to both 14th Street – Union Square and 23rd Street.
Extent and service
Services that use the Lexington Avenue Line are colored apple green. The following services use part or all of the Lexington Avenue Line:
|Time period||Section of line|
|no service||full line (weekdays)|
|north of Bowling Green (evenings & weekends)|
|local||north of Brooklyn Bridge – City Hall|
The Lexington Avenue Line begins in lower Manhattan at the inner loop of the abandoned South Ferry station. North of the station is a merge with the tracks of the Joralemon Street Tunnel from Brooklyn, which become the express tracks. These run north under Broadway and Park Row to Centre Street. At the south end of Centre Street, directly under New York City Hall, is the City Hall Loop and its abandoned station, which was the southern terminus of the original IRT subway line. The loop is still used to turn 6 and <6> service; the Lexington Avenue local tracks, which feed the loop, rise up to join the express tracks just south of Brooklyn Bridge – City Hall station.
From Brooklyn Bridge, the line continues northward in a four-across track layout under Centre Street, Lafayette Street, Fourth Avenue, and Park Avenue South until 42nd Street. At this point, the beginning of Metro-North Railroad's Park Avenue tunnel in Grand Central Terminal forces the Lexington Avenue Line to shift slightly eastward to Lexington Avenue; its Grand Central – 42nd Street station is located on the diagonal between Park and Lexington. Just south of Grand Central, a single non-revenue track connects the IRT 42nd Street Shuttle to the southbound local track; this was part of the original IRT subway alignment.
Under Lexington Avenue, the line assumes a two-over-two track configuration, with the local tracks running on the upper level and the express on the lower, although it briefly returns to a four-across layout between 96th Street and 116th Street. 125th Street returns to this two-over-two layout, although here the upper level is used by all northbound trains and the lower level by southbound trains.
North of this, the line crosses under the Harlem River into the Bronx via the Lexington Avenue Tunnel and a flying junction marks its end, where it splits into the IRT Jerome Avenue Line (4 and 5) and the IRT Pelham Line (6 and <6>).
Construction started on the first IRT line in 1900. A 1902 explosion during construction seriously damaged properties just above the line. The part of the line from City Hall to just south of 42nd Street was part of the original IRT line, opened on October 27, 1904. An extension to Fulton Street opened at 12:01 a.m. on January 16, 1905. The next station, Wall Street, was opened on June 12, 1905.
The first revenue train on the South Ferry extension left South Ferry at 11:59 p.m. on July 9, 1905; the extension of the IRT White Plains Road Line to West Farms opened just after. The first train ran through the Joralemon Street Tunnel to Brooklyn about 12:45 a.m. on January 9, 1908.
The original plan for what became the extension north of 42nd Street was to continue it south through Irving Place and into what is now the BMT Broadway Line at Ninth Street and Broadway. Contracts awarded on July 21, 1911 included Section 6 between 26th Street and 40th Street; at the time, the IRT had withdrawn from the talks, and the Brooklyn Rapid Transit Company (BRT) was to operate on Lexington Avenue. The IRT submitted an offer for what became its portion of the Dual Contracts on February 27, 1912, and construction was soon halted on Section 6.
The rest of the line, north to 125th Street, opened on July 17, 1918. However, until the evening of August 1, 1918, it ran as a shuttle on the local tracks only, terminating at 42nd Street and at 167th Street on the IRT Jerome Avenue Line (where the connection from the elevated IRT Ninth Avenue Line merged). On August 1, service patterns were changed, and the Lexington Avenue Line became a through route. The IRT Broadway – Seventh Avenue Line also switched from shuttle operation at that time, and the IRT 42nd Street Shuttle was formed along the old connection between the sides. Due to the shape of the system, it was referred to as the "H system". Also on August 1, the first section of the IRT Pelham Line opened to Third Avenue – 138th Street.
On August 28, 1991, an accident with a 4 train on the express track just north of the 14th Street – Union Square station killed five riders and injured 215 others in the worst accident on the system since the 1928 Times Square derailment. As a result of the crash, new safety protocols were put in place and there was a partial implementation of automation of the New York City Subway.
|Station service legend|
|Stops all times|
|Stops all times except late nights|
|Stops late nights only|
|Stops weekdays only|
|Stops all times except rush hours in the peak direction|
|Stops rush hours only|
|Stops rush hours in the peak direction only|
|Time period details|
|Station||Tracks||Services||Opened||Transfers and notes|
|Begins as a merge of the IRT Jerome Avenue Line (4 5 ) and IRT Pelham Line (6 <6>)|
|Lexington Avenue Tunnel|
|East Harlem||125th Street||all||4 5 6 <6>||July 17, 1918||Connection to Metro-North Railroad at Harlem – 125th Street
M60 Select Bus Service to LaGuardia Airport
|116th Street||local||4 6 <6>||July 17, 1918|
|110th Street||local||4 6 <6>||July 17, 1918|
|103rd Street||local||4 6 <6>||July 17, 1918|
|Upper East Side||96th Street||local||4 6 <6>||July 17, 1918|
|86th Street||all||4 5 6 <6>||July 17, 1918|
|77th Street||local||4 6 <6>||July 17, 1918|
|68th Street – Hunter College||local||4 6 <6>||July 17, 1918|
|Midtown Manhattan||59th Street||all||4 5 6 <6>||July 17, 1918
|N Q R (BMT Broadway Line at Lexington Avenue / 59th Street)
MetroCard-only transfer to F (IND 63rd Street Line at Lexington Avenue – 63rd Street)
Roosevelt Island Tramway
This station was originally a local station. The lower level for express trains was opened in 1962.
|51st Street||local||4 6 <6>||July 17, 1918||E M (IND Queens Boulevard Line at Lexington Avenue – 53rd Street)|
|Grand Central – 42nd Street||all||4 5 6 <6>||July 17, 1918||7 <7> (IRT Flushing Line)
S (42nd Street Shuttle)
Connection to Metro-North Railroad at Grand Central Terminal
|merge on southbound local track to IRT 42nd Street Shuttle (no regular service)|
|33rd Street||local||4 6 <6>||October 27, 1904||M34 / M34A Select Bus Service|
|Gramercy||28th Street||local||4 6 <6>||October 27, 1904|
|23rd Street||local||4 6 <6>||October 27, 1904|
|18th Street||local||October 27, 1904||closed November 7, 1948|
|Union Square||14th Street – Union Square||all||4 5 6 <6>||October 27, 1904||L (BMT Canarsie Line)
N Q R (BMT Broadway Line)
originally 14th Street
|East Village||Astor Place||local||4 6 <6>||October 27, 1904|
|NoHo||Bleecker Street||local||4 6 <6>||October 27, 1904||B D F M (IND Sixth Avenue Line at Broadway – Lafayette Street)|
|SoHo||Spring Street||local||4 6 <6>||October 27, 1904||Abandoned trackway exists between express tracks|
|Chinatown||Canal Street||local||4 6 <6>||October 27, 1904||N R (BMT Broadway – Main line)
N Q (BMT Broadway – Manhattan Bridge line)
J Z (BMT Nassau Street Line)
|Civic Center||Worth Street||local||October 27, 1904||closed September 1, 1962|
|Brooklyn Bridge – City Hall||all||4 5 6 <6>||October 27, 1904||J Z (BMT Nassau Street Line at Chambers Street)
originally Brooklyn Bridge, then Brooklyn Bridge–Worth Street
|local tracks leave the alignment of the express tracks; local trains short turn (6 <6>) via the loop|
|City Hall||loop||October 27, 1904||Closed December 31, 1945; currently used for local trains to short turn with no station stop. Lexington Avenue Line local trains stopped at station from 1904 to 1945 except late nights, when trains continued to South Ferry.|
|express trains continue (4 5 )|
|Financial District||Fulton Street||express||4 5||January 16, 1905||A C (IND Eighth Avenue Line)
J Z (BMT Nassau Street Line)
2 3 (IRT Broadway – Seventh Avenue Line)
Connection to PATH at World Trade Center
Currently, only the downtown platform is wheelchair accessible through a new entrance at Broadway and Dey Street. The uptown platform, and transfers to other lines, are not currently accessible.
|Wall Street||express||4 5||June 12, 1905|
|Bowling Green||express||4 5||July 10, 1905||M15 Select Bus Service
Staten Island Ferry at South Ferry
|Splits to Brooklyn via the Joralemon Street Tunnel (4 5 ) to become the IRT Eastern Parkway Line Express tracks|
|Financial District||express train short turn (5 ) via both loops|
|South Ferry||both loops||July 10, 1905||Inner platform closed February 12, 1977; currently used for express trains to short turn with no station stop. Lexington Avenue Line trains used the outer platform from July 10, 1905 to July 1, 1918 and from 1950 to February 12, 1977. The outer platform closed on March 16, 2009; which allows Lexington Avenue Line trains to again use both loop tracks.|
- MTA. "Average weekday subway ridership". Retrieved 21 August 2012.
- MTA Capital Construction, Second Avenue Subway, Supplemental Draft Environmental Impact Statement, PDF (317 KiB)
- Federal Transit Administration, US Department of Transportation, MTA New York City Transit (2004-04-06). "Second Avenue Subway in the Borough of Manhattan, New York County, New York, Final Environmental Impact Statement and Final Section 4(f) and Section 6(f) Evaluation" (PDF). Retrieved 2012-06-13.
- "More than 200 million ride Metrorail for the second consecutive year" (Press release). WMATA. 2007-07-05.
- Rapid Transit Tunnel Begun - Ground Officially Broken (1900)
- "Death in Tunnel. Dynamite Explosion. 6 Killed, 125 Hurt in Park Avenue Disaster. Great Hotels In Ruins. Busy Hospital Wrecked and Fine Mansions Damaged Seriously. Money Loss Nearly. $300,000 Terrible Concussion, the Result of Fire in Powder House at 41st Street, Where Hundreds of Pounds of High Explosives Rested.". New York Times. January 28, 1902. Retrieved 2013-12-19. "Dynamite cartridges in a frail shanty on a platform over the west shaft of Section 4 of the subway tunnel in Park Avenue just south of Forty-first Street exploded through a fire which started among paper in the shanty just after noon yesterday with fatal, maiming, and injuring results and wide destruction of property. ..."
- New York Times, Our Subway Open: 150,000 Try It, October 28, 1904
- James Blaine Walker, Fifty Years of Rapid Transit, 1864-1917, published 1918, pp. 230-233
- "Petition for Subway in Lexington Ave.". New York Times. May 22, 1912. Retrieved 2009-02-16. "A petition is being circulated among the residents and property owners of the section just south of the Grand Central Station, in Park and Lexington Avenues, protesting against the proposed abandonment of the construction of the Subway in Lexington Avenue, between Forty-third and Thirty-second Streets."
- New York Times, Lexington Av. Line to be Opened Today, July 17, 1918, page 13
- "mta.info | New Dey Street Entrance opens". Retrieved 10 October 2012.
- Redwine, Tina (10/08/2012). "New Fulton Street Subway Station Entrance Opens At Dey Street". Retrieved 10 October 2012.
- "Fulton St. Trains Monday," New York Times, January 14, 1905, p. 5
- "Subway at Fulton Street Busy," New York Times, January 17, 1905, p. 9
- "Subway Trains Run Again This Morning," New York Times, June 13, 1905, p. 1
- "Subway Trains Running from Bronx to Battery," New York Times, July 10, 1905, p. 1
- "Subway to Brooklyn Opened for Traffic," New York Times, January 9, 1908, p. 1
- "Lexington Av. Line to be Opened Today," New York Times, July 7, 1918, p. 13
- "Open New Subway Lines to Traffic; Called a Triumph," New York Times, August 2, 1918, p. 1
- "Old City Hall Station of IRT to Close Monday," New York Times, December 27, 1945, p. 24
- "IRT Station to be Closed," New York Times, November 6, 1948, p. 29
- "New Platform for IRT Locals at Brooklyn Bridge to End Jams," New York Times, September 1, 1962, p. 42
- "M.T.A. Expected to Save Franklin Avenue Shuttle, Once an Austerity Target," New York Times, February 10, 1977, p. 27
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to IRT Lexington Avenue Line.|