81st Street–Museum of Natural History station

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 81 Street–
 Museum of Natural History
 "B" train"C" train
MTA NYC logo.svg New York City Subway station (rapid transit)
Northwest entrance
Station statistics
AddressWest 81st Street & Central Park West
New York, NY 10024
LocaleUpper West Side
Coordinates40°46′55″N 73°58′18″W / 40.781971°N 73.971763°W / 40.781971; -73.971763Coordinates: 40°46′55″N 73°58′18″W / 40.781971°N 73.971763°W / 40.781971; -73.971763
DivisionB (IND)
Line      IND Eighth Avenue Line
Services      A late nights (late nights)
      B weekdays until 11:00 p.m. (weekdays until 11:00 p.m.)
      C all except late nights (all except late nights)
Transit connectionsBus transport NYCT Bus: M10, M79 SBS
Bus transport MTA Bus: BxM2
Platforms2 side platforms (1 on each level)
Tracks4 (2 on each level)
Other information
OpenedSeptember 10, 1932 (87 years ago) (1932-09-10)[1]
Station code159[2]
Accessiblenot ADA-accessible; accessibility planned
Wireless serviceWi-Fi and cellular service is provided at this station[3]
Opposite-direction transfer availableYes
Passengers (2019)4,407,607[5]Decrease 7.2%
Rank111 out of 424[5]
Station succession
Next north86th Street: A late nightsB weekdays until 11:00 p.m.C all except late nights
Next south72nd Street: A late nightsB weekdays until 11:00 p.m.C all except late nights

81st Street–Museum of Natural History is a local station on the IND Eighth Avenue Line of the New York City Subway. It is served by the B on weekdays, the C train at all times except nights, and the A train during late nights only.


The station opened on September 10, 1932, as part of the city-operated Independent Subway System (IND)'s initial segment, the Eighth Avenue Line between Chambers Street and 207th Street.[1][6] Construction of the whole line cost $191.2 million. While the IRT Broadway–Seventh Avenue Line already provided parallel service, the new Eighth Avenue subway via Central Park West provided an alternative route.[7]

The station was renovated in 1998–2000, in coordination with building the new Hayden Planetarium, within the Rose Center for Earth and Space.[8] The floors were replaced, new lighting installed, the token booth upgraded, and the walls and staircases re-tiled. Structural improvements were also made during the renovation.[8] In 2019, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority announced that the station would become ADA-accessible as part of the agency's 2020–2024 Capital Program.[9]

Station layout[edit]

G Street level Exit/entrance
B1 Northbound express "A" train"D" train do not stop here
Northbound local "B" train weekdays toward Bedford Park Boulevard or 145th Street (86th Street)
"C" train toward 168th Street (86th Street)
"A" train toward 207th Street late nights (86th Street)
Side platform
Mezzanine Fare control, station agent, MetroCard machines, entrance to American Museum of Natural History
B2 Southbound express "A" train"D" train do not stop here →
Southbound local "B" train weekdays toward Brighton Beach (72nd Street)
"C" train toward Euclid Avenue (72nd Street)
"A" train toward Far Rockaway late nights (72nd Street)
Side platform
Track layout
Upper level
Lower level

This underground station has four tracks and two side platforms. On this section of the line, the local tracks are stacked, uptown above downtown, and the express tracks are stacked in the same order to the east of them, so both platforms are on the west side, one above the other. The station is at Central Park West and 81st Street, rather than the major crosstown 79th Street, in order to accommodate the American Museum of Natural History,[10] which largely fills the area of what was once called the Manhattan Square. The 79th Street Transverse Road, through Central Park, exits the park here.

South of this station are storage/lay up tracks between the local and express tracks on each level. Both ends of the tracks merge with the express tracks, with switches to the local tracks.[11][12]


There are two fare control areas, both on the upper platform. One is at the station's extreme south end, on Central Park West midblock between 77th and 81st Streets.[13] From this fare control, a passageway leads to a staircase on the west side of Central Park West, just south of the American Museum of Natural History's front entrance.[13] This fare control also has an underground entrance directly into the museum's lowest level.[14] The other is at the station's north end, at Central Park West and West 81st Street. There is one staircase each to the northwest and southwest corners of the intersection.[13]


Dinosaur artwork on one of the station walls

In 1976, with funding from the Exxon Corporation, this station, as well as three others citywide, received new "artfully humorous graffiti" murals and artwork.[15] Local designer Mayers and Schiff received $5,000 to add murals of dinosaurs such as "Thesaurus Rex, the dinosaur that had a vocabulary of a thousand words" and "Elongatomus, an elongated critter that stretched from coast to coast whose pelvic remains support a highway interchange in Missouri."[15]

As part of the 1998–2000 station renovation, a program of tile mosaics was undertaken, covering the stairs and platforms, extending to floor inlays. Stairwells evoke descending into the geological strata of the Earth (at 81st Street) or into the Ocean (79th Street). Many creatures are evoked in mosaic vignettes that punctuate the stretches of white tiled wall. Fossil casts seem to emerge from the tiles as though the subway platform itself were an excavation, which it actually is.[16] Under the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA)'s Arts for Transit program, a mixed-media installation was created in 2000.[8][16][17][18] Entitled "For Want of a Nail",[17] named after the old proverb, it addresses the interconnections of entities that are as vast as a galaxy and as small as a single cell. Using ceramic tile, glass tile, glass mosaic, bronze relief, and granite as primary materials, the design team depicted the evolution of extinct, existing and endangered life forms, from single celled organisms to the towering T. rex dinosaur.[16][19] It shows images and symbols ranging from the Earth's core, to the sea, the sky and the cosmos beyond. No artist has been identified in this group project.[16][19]


  1. ^ a b "List of the 28 Stations on the New 8th Av. Line". The New York Times. September 10, 1932. p. 6. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved April 21, 2020.
  2. ^ "Station Developers' Information". Metropolitan Transportation Authority. Retrieved June 13, 2017.
  3. ^ "NYC Subway Wireless – Active Stations". Transit Wireless Wifi. Retrieved November 13, 2019.
  4. ^ "Facts and Figures: Annual Subway Ridership 2014–2019". Metropolitan Transportation Authority. 2020. Retrieved May 26, 2020.
  5. ^ a b "Facts and Figures: Annual Subway Ridership 2014–2019". Metropolitan Transportation Authority. 2020. Retrieved May 26, 2020.
  6. ^ Crowell, Paul (September 10, 1932). "Gay Midnight Crowd Rides First Trains In The New Subway: Throngs at Station an Hour Before Time, Rush Turnstiles When Chains are Dropped" (PDF). New York Times. Retrieved November 8, 2015.
  7. ^ Duffus, R. l (September 9, 1932). "NEW LINE FIRST UNIT IN CITY-WIDE SYSTEM; 8th Av. Tube to Ease West Side Congestion at Once -- Branches to Link 4 Boroughs Later. LAST WORD IN SUBWAYS Run From 207th to Chambers St. Cut to 33 Minutes -- 42d St. Has World's Largest Station. COST HAS BEEN $191,200,000 Years of Digging Up City Streets, Tunneling Rock and Building Road Finally Brought to Completion". The New York Times. p. 12. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved August 3, 2017.
  8. ^ a b c Siegal, Nina (September 13, 1998). "NEIGHBORHOOD REPORT: UPPER WEST SIDE/UPPER MANHATTAN; At This Stop, B and C Spell Walk". The New York Times. Retrieved September 21, 2016.
  9. ^ "Press Release - MTA Headquarters - MTA Announces 20 Additional Subway Stations to Receive Accessibility Improvements Under Proposed 2020-2024 Capital Plan". MTA. December 19, 2019. Retrieved December 24, 2019.
  10. ^ "American Museum of Natural History". AMNH. May 1, 2014. Retrieved September 21, 2016.
  11. ^ "NYC Subway Track Map (Midtown Manhattan) (Zoom to section by clicking)". www.nycsubway.org. Retrieved November 11, 2011.
  12. ^ Marrero, Robert (January 1, 2017). "472 Stations, 850 Miles" (PDF). B24 Blog, via Dropbox. Retrieved April 27, 2018.
  13. ^ a b c "MTA Neighborhood Maps: Upper West Side" (PDF). mta.info. Metropolitan Transportation Authority. 2015. Retrieved December 30, 2016.
  14. ^ "Directions and Transportation". AMNH. May 1, 2014. Retrieved September 21, 2016.
  15. ^ a b Burks, Edward C. (November 18, 1976). "A Subway Elongatomus? Why, It's Preposterous!". The New York Times. Retrieved September 21, 2016.
  16. ^ a b c d "81st Street-Museum of Natural History: ARTS FOR TRANSIT COLLABORATIVE: For Want of a Nail, 2000". Metropolitan Transportation Authority. Retrieved September 21, 2016.
  17. ^ a b Review of the A and C Lines (PDF) (Report). Metropolitan Transportation Authority. December 11, 2015. Archived from the original (PDF) on February 3, 2020. Retrieved January 19, 2016.
  18. ^ "81st Street Museum of Natural History Station Reopening". AMNH. Archived from the original on September 26, 2011. Retrieved November 11, 2011.
  19. ^ a b Kennedy, Randy (June 15, 2000). "Where Stepping Off the Subway Means Stepping Into the Wild". The New York Times. Retrieved January 1, 2011.

External links[edit]