Lexington Avenue / 59th Street (New York City Subway)

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Lexington Avenue / 59th Street
NYCS 4 NYCS 5 NYCS 6 NYCS 6d NYCS N NYCS Q NYCS R
New York City Subway rapid transit station complex
Lex Ave-59th Street Entrance.JPG
Street stair
Station statistics
Address East 59th Street & Lexington Avenue
New York, NY 10022
Borough Manhattan
Locale Midtown Manhattan, Upper East Side
Coordinates 40°45′45″N 73°58′04″W / 40.762471°N 73.9679°W / 40.762471; -73.9679Coordinates: 40°45′45″N 73°58′04″W / 40.762471°N 73.9679°W / 40.762471; -73.9679
Division A (IRT), B (BMT)
Line       BMT Broadway Line
      IRT Lexington Avenue Line
Services       4 all times (all times)
      5 all except late nights (all except late nights)
      6 all times (all times) <6>weekdays until 8:45 p.m., peak direction (weekdays until 8:45 p.m., peak direction)
      N all times (all times)
      Q weekdays (weekdays)
      R all except late nights (all except late nights)
System transfers F all times at Lexington Avenue – 63rd Street (MetroCard only)
Connection
Structure Underground
Levels 3
Other information
Opened July 1, 1948; 66 years ago (1948-07-01)[1]
Traffic
Passengers (2013) 21,282,767 (station complex)[2] Increase 3.2%
Rank 8 out of 421

Lexington Avenue / 59th Street is a New York City Subway station complex shared by the IRT Lexington Avenue Line and the BMT Broadway Line. It is located at Lexington Avenue between 59th and 60th Streets, on the border of Midtown and the Upper East Side of Manhattan. The station complex is the eighth busiest in the system, with 21,282,767 passengers in 2013.[2]

A free out-of-system MetroCard transfer is available to the IND 63rd Street Line (F train) by exiting the station and walking to the Lexington Avenue – 63rd Street station. The complex is served by the:

  • 4, 6, and N trains at all times
  • 5 and R trains at all times except late nights
  • Q train during weekdays
  • <6> train during weekdays in peak direction

Station layout[edit]

G Street Level Exit/Entrance, connection to F train at Lexington Avenue – 63rd Street
B1 Side platform, doors will open on the right
Northbound local NYCS 6 NYCS 6d toward Parkchester PM rush hours, Pelham Bay Park all times (NYCS 4 toward Woodlawn late nights) (68th Street – Hunter College)
Southbound local NYCS 6 NYCS 6d toward Brooklyn Bridge – City Hall (NYCS 4 toward New Lots Avenue late nights) (51st Street)
Side platform, doors will open on the right
B2 Southbound NYCS N toward Coney Island – Stillwell Avenue via Sea Beach (Fifth Avenue – 59th Street)
NYCS Q toward Coney Island – Stillwell Avenue via Brighton (weekdays) (Fifth Avenue – 59th Street)
NYCS R toward Bay Ridge – 95th Street (Fifth Avenue – 59th Street)
Island platform, doors will open on the left
Northbound NYCS N (NYCS Q weekdays) toward Astoria – Ditmars Boulevard (Queensboro Plaza)
NYCS R toward Forest Hills – 71st Avenue (Queens Plaza)
B3 Mezzanine Transfer between platforms
B4 Side platform, doors will open on the right
Northbound express NYCS 4 toward Woodlawn (86th Street)
NYCS 5 toward Nereid Avenue PM rush hours, Eastchester – Dyre Avenue all times (86th Street)
Southbound express NYCS 4 toward Crown Heights – Utica Avenue (Grand Central – 42nd Street)
NYCS 5 toward Flatbush Avenue weekdays, Bowling Green weekends (Grand Central – 42nd Street)
Side platform, doors will open on the right


IRT Lexington Avenue Line platforms[edit]

59th Street
NYCS 4 NYCS 5 NYCS 6 NYCS 6d
New York City Subway rapid transit station
59 Street IRT panoramic.jpg
Uptown NYCS 6 train enters on the local platform
Station statistics
Division A (IRT)
Line       IRT Lexington Avenue Line
Services       4 all times (all times)
      5 all except late nights (all except late nights)
      6 all times (all times) <6>weekdays until 8:45 p.m., peak direction (weekdays until 8:45 p.m., peak direction)
Levels 2
Platforms 4 side platforms (2 on each level)
Tracks 4 (2 on each level)
Other information
Opened July 17, 1918; 96 years ago (1918-07-17)[3] (upper level)
November 15, 1962; 52 years ago (1962-11-15) (lower level)
Station succession
Next north 68th Street – Hunter College (local): 4 late nights 6 all times <6>weekdays until 8:45 p.m., peak direction
86th Street (express): 4 all except late nights 5 all except late nights
Next south 51st Street (local): 4 late nights 6 all times <6>weekdays until 8:45 p.m., peak direction
Grand Central – 42nd Street (express): 4 all except late nights 5 all except late nights

59th Street on the IRT Lexington Avenue Line is an express station. It has two stacked levels, each of which has two tracks and two side platforms - the upper level is used by local trains, and the lower level is for express trains. The levels are separated by the BMT Broadway Line station platform under the local level and a mezzanine between the BMT and express levels. Long escalators connect the local and express platforms directly.

The station originally served local trains only. The express platforms were opened in 1962 to reduce transfer congestion at Grand Central – 42nd Street, and to allow transfers between the express trains and BMT trains to Queens. Even before the express platforms were added, this station was the busiest on the line.

The station used to have all green tile which has been covered up except for one "59th Street" sign near the south end of the northbound platform. There are whimsical stylized mosaics of coffee cups and slippers in varied colors at random spacing near the stairways to the Broadway and IRT local trains. This station is currently being renovated in conjunction with recent construction of the Bloomberg Tower at 59th Street and Lexington Avenue. Although a new entrance was constructed within the building, it has remained closed due to fears of icicle formation on a railing that is part of the building's design, directly above the street entrance. A legal battle between the city and the building's management over who is responsible for modifying the design has caused the entrance to be temporarily closed between 2003 and 2006.

There is a direct exit to Bloomingdale's from the uptown local fare control (this exit was used in the 2008 film Cloverfield). The underpass near the south end of the station was originally the northbound platform for the extension of the BMT Broadway Line to Queens. That line had been planned as two separate, one-track tunnels, one each under 59th and 60th Streets. Later on, it was decided to alter this layout in favor of a single two-track tunnel under 60th Street. The semi-completed platform under 59th Street was then converted to an underpass between the north and southbound platforms of the Lexington Avenue Line local tracks.

On the upper level, north of the station, there is a storage/lay up track between the two tracks. It ends at a bumper block at its north end. It merges with the two local tracks on its southern end.


BMT Broadway Line platform[edit]

Lexington Avenue / 59th Street
NYCS N NYCS Q NYCS R
New York City Subway rapid transit station
NYC Lexington Ave and 59th station.jpg
Platform view
Station statistics
Division B (BMT)
Line       BMT Broadway Line
Services       N all times (all times)
      Q weekdays (weekdays)
      R all except late nights (all except late nights)
Platforms 1 island platform
Tracks 2
Other information
Opened September 1, 1919; 95 years ago (1919-09-01)[4]
Station succession
Next north Queensboro Plaza (Astoria): N all times Q weekdays
Queens Plaza (Queens Boulevard): R all except late nights
Next south Fifth Avenue – 59th Street: N all times Q weekdays R all except late nights

Lexington Avenue / 59th Street on the BMT Broadway Line has two tracks and one island platform, and two mezzanines. The Lexington Avenue mezzanine has two staircases to each of the IRT local platforms, an escalator to the downtown platform, and three staircases down to the center level. The Third Avenue side was constructed in the late 1960s, with the same red tile that was used during renovation of Bowling Green in 1978. It has up and down escalators and an adjoining staircase, and is open part-time only, with four street staircases on Third Avenue. The new entrance is a result of the platform extension along the same side during the 1960s.

The distinctive "Lex" mosaics were preserved during the renovation, by installing pre-arranged blocks along the station wall that cup the Lexington Avenue Line above it. The wall tiles have the red "Lex" evenly spaced out, similar to the IND style, with blue background, green borders, and white lettering. In 2002, the station received a major overhaul. It has received a state of repairs as well as upgraded the station for ADA compliance and restoring the original late 1910s tiling. The MTA repaired the staircases, re-tiling for the walls, new tiling on the floors, upgrading the station's lights and the public address system, installing ADA yellow safety threads along the platform edge, new signs, and new trackbeds in both directions. The station could not be made ADA-compliant to install elevators on the platform, because the platform columns on the Lexington Avenue side make the platform too narrow for a wheelchair to navigate.

The center level is the nerve center of this vital complex, and is located at the 60th Street/Lexington Avenue end. Installed in conjunction with the 1962 opening of the lower level IRT express platforms, it makes a seamless and easy transfer between all lines from the three different areas mentioned above. There are three staircases up to the BMT platform, two down to each of the lower level IRT express platforms, and one staircase and escalator up to the IRT local platforms on the upper level.

Despite its name, the station is not located on Lexington Avenue and 59th Street. It is actually located on Lexington and 60th Street. Originally, the Broadway subway was to run to Queens over the Queensboro Bridge. Because the side streets are so narrow, the Queens-bound track was to run under 59th Street and the return track under 60th Street.[5] There are exits however to Lexington Avenue and 59th Streets via the local IRT platforms.

The Broadway subway plan was changed in 1915 to route both tracks into 60th Street and to cross the East River by a tunnel just north of the Queensborough Bridge. The 59th Street crossing was obviously now useless, and at 60th Street, the subway would have to be at a lower grade, on its way to the 60th Street Tunnel. The 59th Street crossing was worked into a pedestrian underpass for the IRT 59th Street station, which turned into a way to get between the downtown platform and the direct subway entrance to Bloomingdale's on the uptown platform. That section is still in use, and the floor level is that of the never-completed BMT station. The 60th Street crossing was mostly destroyed when the existing station was built at a lower grade. A door in the southern wall across from the platform opens into a remaining unused space,[6] and suggests the platform level of the original grade, which is the same as the 59th Street underpass.

Artwork[edit]

The mezzanine between the IRT express platforms and the BMT platform has a large-scale mosaic mural entitled Blooming (1996), by Elizabeth Murray. It covers all four walls of the mezzanine area. It takes its name from the nearby Bloomingdale's department store.[7] The mosaic features larger versions of the coffee cups and slippers found on the platform walls, with the text: "In dreams begin responsibilities" and "Conduct your blooming in the noise and whip of the whirlwind". The text floats from the coffee cups and are excerpted from poetry by Delmore Schwartz and Gwendolyn Brooks.

Image gallery[edit]

References[edit]

Further reading[edit]

  • "East Side Subway to Get Express Stop at 59th St.", New York Times; April 8, 1959; page 1
  • "IRT Will Open Express Station at Lexington and 59th Thursday", New York Times; November 9, 1962; page 37
  • "IRT Express Stop Opens at 59th St.", New York Times; November 16, 1962; page 22

External links[edit]