BMT Broadway Line

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For the BMT line over Broadway in Brooklyn, see BMT Jamaica Line.
BMT Broadway Line
Services that use the BMT Broadway Line have been colored yellow since 1979.
Type Rapid transit line
System New York City Subway
Status Operational
Locale Manhattan, New York City, New York
Termini east of Lexington Avenue / 59th Street
south of Whitehall Street – South Ferry
Stations 16
Services 3
Daily ridership 748,925[1]
Opened April 9, 1917; 99 years ago (1917-04-09)
Owner City of New York
Operator(s) New York City Transit Authority
Character Underground
Track gauge 1,435 mm (4 ft 8 12 in)
Electrification 600V DC third rail
BMT Broadway Line
BMT Astoria Line
Lexington Avenue / 59th Street Roosevelt Island Tramway
Fifth Avenue / 59th Street
BMT 63rd Street Line
57th Street – Seventh Avenue
49th Street
Times Square – 42nd Street IRT Flushing Line
34th Street – Herald Square IND Sixth Avenue Line
28th Street
23rd Street
14th Street – Union Square BMT Canarsie Line
Eighth Street – New York University
Prince Street
Canal Street
local tracks
upper level
express tracks
lower level
Manhattan Bridge
City Hall
lower level
out of use
City Hall Yard
Cortlandt Street
Rector Street
Whitehall Street – South Ferry
BMT Nassau Street Line
BMT Fourth Avenue Line

The BMT Broadway Line is a rapid transit line of the B Division of the New York City Subway in Manhattan, New York City, United States. As of June 2010, it is served by three services, all colored sunflower yellow: the Q on the express tracks and the N Q R on the local tracks. The line is often referred to as the "N and R",[2][3] since those were the only services on the line during the long years that the Manhattan Bridge south tracks were closed for rebuilding. The Broadway Line was built to give the Brooklyn Rapid Transit Company (later the Brooklyn–Manhattan Transit Corporation) access to Midtown Manhattan.

The line is named for its location under Broadway between Vesey Street and Seventh Avenue (Times Square). It also passes under Vesey Street, Whitehall Street, Trinity Place, and Church Street in Lower Manhattan, and Seventh Avenue, 59th Street, and 60th Street in Midtown. The local tracks stretch the entire length between the two East River tunnels: the Montague Street Tunnel to the BMT Fourth Avenue Line in Brooklyn and the 60th Street Tunnel to the BMT Astoria Line and 60th Street Tunnel Connection in Queens. Center express tracks exist between Canal Street and 57th Street, turning off at Canal Street to feed the south tracks on the Manhattan Bridge, and continuing north and east under Central Park as the BMT 63rd Street Line (presently unused, but planned to connect with the Second Avenue Subway). The Broadway Line was the only Manhattan outlet north of Delancey Street for the BMT's Brooklyn lines until 1967, when most BMT Brighton Line and BMT West End Line trains were moved to the IND Sixth Avenue Line via the new Chrystie Street Connection.

Extent and service[edit]

Services that use the Broadway Line are colored sunflower yellow.

Route Services
  Time period South of
Whitehall St
Whitehall St
and Canal St
Canal St
via Bridge
Canal St
and 42 St
49 St
57 St
Between 57
St and
Lexington Ave
NYCS-bull-trans-N.svg All times except nights no service local
Nights local no service local
NYCS-bull-trans-Q.svg Weekdays no service express local
Weekends no service express no service
Nights no service local no service
NYCS-bull-trans-R.svg All times except nights local no service local
Nights no service

The BMT Broadway Line begins at the 60th Street Tunnel from Queens. It runs west as a two-track subway line under 60th Street (east of Fifth Avenue) and 59th Street (west of Fifth Avenue), with stations at Lexington Avenue / 59th Street and Fifth Avenue / 59th Street. It then turns south to Seventh Avenue into the local tracks at 57th Street – Seventh Avenue. This segment of the line carries the N Q services from the BMT Astoria Line and the R service from the IND Queens Boulevard Line.[4]

At the 57th Street station, the line joins two express tracks that enter the station from the north via the BMT 63rd Street Line. There is no scheduled BMT service on the 63rd Street Line at present. The BMT 63rd Street Line will carry the Q service across 63rd Street and up the proposed Second Avenue Line. The express tracks at 57th Street are currently used as terminal tracks for the Q train on late nights and weekends.[4]

The BMT Broadway Line proceeds as a four-track subway down Seventh Avenue to its intersection with Broadway, and then continues down Broadway to a point north of Canal Street, where the express tracks carrying the N Q services descend and turn sharply east into the Canal Street (formerly Broadway) station of the BMT Broadway – Manhattan Bridge Line.[4]

Immediately after Canal Street, the express tracks resume again (originally they had been intended to run through) and serve as storage and turning tracks, bypassing the Canal Street local station and ending in the disused lower level of City Hall. The local tracks continue south as a two-track subway to Whitehall Street – South Ferry station. Whitehall Street – South Ferry is a three track, two-platform station, with the center track set up as a terminal track, formerly used as the south terminal for now defunct W service. Now, the center track is currently only used during service disruptions.[4] A pair of bellmouths exists here, allowing for a connection to a never-built East River tunnel south of the Montague Street Tunnel that would have connected to Atlantic Avenue in Brooklyn.[5] It has been proposed to use this as part of the Lower Manhattan – Jamaica/JFK Transportation Project, connecting to the Court Street station (New York Transit Museum) in Brooklyn.[6][7]

The BMT Broadway Line then curves east carrying the N R trains to a trailing junction with the BMT Nassau Street Line (no regular service trains) and enters the Montague Street Tunnel to Brooklyn.[4]


The New York Public Service Commission adopted plans for what was known as the Broadway–Lexington Avenue route on December 31, 1907. This route began at the Battery and ran under Greenwich Street, Vesey Street, Broadway to Ninth Street, private property to Irving Place, and Irving Place and Lexington Avenue to the Harlem River. After crossing under the Harlem River into the Bronx, the route split at Park Avenue and 138th Street, with one branch continuing north to and along Jerome Avenue to Woodlawn Cemetery, and the other heading east and northeast along 138th Street, Southern Boulevard, and Westchester Avenue to Pelham Bay Park. In early 1908, the Tri-borough plan was formed, combining this route, the under-construction Centre Street Loop Subway in Manhattan and Fourth Avenue Subway in Brooklyn, a Canal Street Subway from the Fourth Avenue Subway via the Manhattan Bridge to the Hudson River, and several other lines in Brooklyn.[8][9]

The BRT proposal

The Brooklyn Rapid Transit Company submitted a proposal to the Commission, dated March 2, 1911, to operate the Tri-borough system (but under Church Street instead of Greenwich Street), as well as a branch along Broadway, Seventh Avenue, and 59th Street from Ninth Street north and east to the Queensboro Bridge; the Canal Street Subway was to merge with the Broadway Line instead of continuing to the Hudson River. The city, the BRT, and the Interborough Rapid Transit Company (which operated the first subway and four elevated lines in Manhattan) came to an agreement, and sent a report to the Board of Estimate on June 5, 1911. The line along Broadway to 59th Street was assigned to the BRT, while the IRT obtained the Lexington Avenue line, connecting with its existing route at Grand Central – 42nd Street. Construction began on Lexington Avenue on July 31, and on Broadway the next year. The Dual Contracts, two operating contracts between the city and the BMT and IRT, were adopted on March 4, 1913.[10] Originally, the current 49th Street station (which was actually originally planned to be at 47th Street) was going to be an express station, and 57th Street was to be a local station as reflected by original contract drawings. Then in December 1913, both 47th and 57th Streets were both going to be express stations, with no express station at Times Square–42nd Street itself, but rather a local station at 38th Street.[11] Finally, in 1914, it was switched, with 57th Street being the express station, and 49th Street being the local station, with another express station at Times Square–42nd Street.[5]

Because of the complicated history, the Broadway Line includes several remnants of earlier plans. The line was built as four tracks south to City Hall, where the local tracks were to end at the upper level, and the express tracks were to use the lower level, curving through Vesey Street into Church Street. However, the final plan had the express tracks splitting at Canal Street and passing under the northbound local track to the Manhattan Bridge. The tunnel south of City Hall was rebuilt to bring the upper local tracks down to the lower level north of Vesey Street, and the lower level at City Hall was never used for passenger service.[5][12]

Unused construction is also present near the west end of the Queensboro Bridge. The original plan there was to build two one-track tunnels under 59th and 60th Streets, rising onto the bridge to Queens. However, plans were changed in 1915 to place both tracks under 60th Street and cross the East River in the 60th Street Tunnel, in part due to heavy vehicular traffic over the bridge. A piece of the 59th Street tunnel had already been built, concurrent with the construction of the IRT Lexington Avenue Line, and became a walkway connecting the two side platforms of the IRT's 59th Street station.[13]

The section of the Broadway Line from Union Square to Canal Street opened on September 4, 1917 at 2 P.M, with an eight car train carrying members of the Public Service Commission, representatives of the city government, officials of the BRT and invited guests left Union Square toward Coney Island. Service for the general public opened at 8 P.M. with trains leaving Union Square and Coney Island simultaneously.[14]

Another unused provision existed for many years north of 57th Street, where the two express tracks ended before being connected to the BMT 63rd Street Line in 1989. Plans were made, but never carried through, to build a line northwest through Central Park and under Eighth Avenue through the Upper West Side to Inwood, along the route later built as the IND Eighth Avenue Line.[5][15]

A short portion of the line, coming off the north side of the Manhattan Bridge through Canal Street to 14th Street – Union Square, opened on September 4, 1917.[16] An extension north to Times Square – 42nd Street and south to Rector Street was completed on January 5, 1918.[17] Further portions were opened south to Whitehall Street – South Ferry on September 20, 1918,[18][19] north to 57th Street on July 10, 1919,[20][19] and east to Lexington Avenue / 59th Street on September 1, 1919.[19][21] Both East River tunnels - the 60th Street Tunnel to Queensboro Plaza and the Montague Street Tunnel to DeKalb Avenue - opened on August 1, 1920, completing the Broadway Line.[22][23]

Service history[edit]

At most times, the Broadway Line has had four services — two local and two express — during the day, with a third express service until the 1967 opening of the Chrystie Street Connection.

  • 1/QT (BMT Brighton Line) local trains ran until 1967, when the QT was discontinued. At that time, the EE was introduced, becoming part of the N in 1976; the N became express and the W became local in 2004.
  • 1/Q (BMT Brighton Line) express trains were mostly moved to the IND Sixth Avenue Line as a relocated D in 1967, but a few trips stayed as the QB, later the Q again. During the Manhattan Bridge reconstruction, from the 1980s until 2001, the Q mostly used the IND Sixth Avenue Line. When restored in 2001, the Q became full-time, replacing the D on the Brighton Line.
  • 2/RR (BMT Fourth Avenue Line) trains (later R) have run local over the Broadway Line since 1920.
  • 3/T (BMT West End Line) trains ran express on the Broadway Line until 1967, when the T became part of the realigned B via the IND Sixth Avenue Line.
  • 4/N (BMT Sea Beach Line) trains used the express tracks until the Manhattan Bridge reconstruction in the 1980s, when all N trips became local. (Some had run local since the EE was merged into the N in 1976.) When the Manhattan Bridge south tracks reopened in 2001, the W was introduced, at first running express; it became local in 2004, and the N moved back to the express tracks.

Several other services have used the express tracks, including the NX (Sea Beach, 1967–1968) and the B (West End) and D (Brighton) during closures of the Manhattan Bridge north tracks in the 1980s and 1990s.

The current set of three services — N Q R trains — have used the line since July 22, 2001, when the south tracks on the Manhattan Bridge reopened. Until February 22, 2004, when the north tracks reopened, however, the N was local and the now defunct W was express.

On June 28, 2010, the N began running local north of Canal Street at all times and the Q train was extended to/from Astoria, Queens via the 60th Street Tunnel in place of the W service (which was discontinued after June 25, 2010 due to MTA budget problems) on weekdays, and began stopping on the local tracks starting at Times Square – 42nd Street. In December 2014, the Q began running local on the line between Canal Street and 57th Street – Seventh Avenue during late nights.[24]

On February 19, 2016, the MTA announced that the 2004-2010 service pattern would be restored a few months prior to the opening of the Second Avenue Subway in the Fall. The W train would be brought back running weekdays between Ditmars Boulevard and Whitehall Street, the N would run express in Manhattan between 34th Street–Herald Square and Canal Street during weekdays, and the Q would terminate at 57th Street–Seventh Avenue at all times until the first phase of the Second Avenue Subway opens.[25][26][27]

On June 16, 2016, it was announced that the R would be extended to Whitehall Street during late nights in order to reduce the need to transfer, and to provide a direct link to Manhattan.[28]

Station listing[edit]

Station service legend
Stops all times Stops all times
Stops all times except late nights Stops all times except late nights
Stops late nights only Stops late nights only
Stops late nights and weekends Stops late nights and weekends only
Stops weekdays only Stops weekdays only
Stops rush hours only Stops rush hours only
Stops rush hours in peak direction only Stops rush hours in the peak direction only
Time period details
Handicapped/disabled access Station Tracks Services Opened Transfers and notes
begins as a merge of the BMT Astoria Line (N all times Q weekdays) and the 60th Street Tunnel Connection (R all except late nights) and
passes through the 60th Street Tunnel
Midtown Manhattan Lexington Avenue/59th Street local N all times Q weekdays R all except late nights September 1, 1919[21][19] 4 all times 5 all except late nights 6 all times <6>weekdays until 8:45 p.m., peak direction (IRT Lexington Avenue Line)
MetroCard-only transfer to F all times (IND 63rd Street Line at Lexington Avenue–63rd Street)
Roosevelt Island Tramway
Fifth Avenue/59th Street local N all times Q weekdays R all except late nights September 1, 1919[21][19]
express tracks begin from the BMT 63rd Street Line (no regular service)
57th Street–Seventh Avenue all N all times Q all times R all except late nights July 10, 1919[20][19] Northern terminal for Q weekends except late nights service
Handicapped/disabled access* 49th Street local N all times Q weekdays R all except late nights July 10, 1919[19]
Handicapped/disabled access Times Square–42nd Street all N all times Q all times R all except late nights January 5, 1918[17] 1 all times 2 all times 3 all times (IRT Broadway–Seventh Avenue Line)
7 all times <7>rush hours until 9:30 p.m., peak direction (IRT Flushing Line)
S all except late nights (42nd Street Shuttle)
A all times C all except late nights E all times (IND Eighth Avenue Line at 42nd Street–Port Authority Bus Terminal)
Port Authority Bus Terminal
Handicapped/disabled access 34th Street–Herald Square all N all times Q all times R all except late nights January 5, 1918[17] B weekdays until 11:00 p.m. D all times F all times M weekdays until 11:00 p.m. (IND Sixth Avenue Line)
M34/M34A Select Bus Service
Connection to PATH at 33rd Street
NoMad 28th Street local N all times Q late nights only R all except late nights January 5, 1918[17]
Flatiron District 23rd Street local N all times Q late nights only R all except late nights January 5, 1918[17]
Union Square Handicapped/disabled access 14th Street–Union Square all N all times Q all times R all except late nights September 4, 1917[16] 4 all times 5 all except late nights 6 all times <6>weekdays until 8:45 p.m., peak direction (IRT Lexington Avenue Line)
L all times (BMT Canarsie Line)
Greenwich Village Eighth Street–New York University local N all times Q late nights only R all except late nights September 4, 1917[16]
SoHo Prince Street local N all times Q late nights only R all except late nights September 4, 1917[16]
Chinatown Canal Street express
(lower level)

(upper level)

N all except late nights Q all times (express)
N late nights R all except late nights (local)
September 4, 1917[16] (express)
January 5, 1918[17] (local)
4 late nights 6 all times <6>weekdays until 8:45 p.m., peak direction (IRT Lexington Avenue Line)
J all times Z rush hours, peak direction (BMT Nassau Street Line)
Express station originally known as Broadway
express tracks continue into Brooklyn via Manhattan Bridge south tracks (N all except late nights Q all times)
Civic Center City Hall local N late nights R all except late nights January 5, 1918[17]
Financial District Handicapped/disabled access Cortlandt Street local N late nights R all except late nights January 5, 1918[17] Connection to PATH at World Trade Center
Rector Street local N late nights R all except late nights January 5, 1918[17]
Whitehall Street–South Ferry all N late nights R all except late nights September 20, 1918[19] 1 all times (IRT Broadway–Seventh Avenue Line)
M15 Select Bus Service
Staten Island Ferry at South Ferry
merges with BMT Nassau Street Line (no regular service)
continues into Brooklyn via the Montague Street Tunnel and becomes the BMT Fourth Avenue Line (N late nights R all except late nights)
  • *49th Street is accessible northbound only


  1. ^ MTA. "Average weekday subway ridership". Retrieved 2 April 2014. 
  2. ^ Randy Kennedy, New York Times, Honoring the Champions, October 31, 2000, section B, page 10: "And the only reason she was standing in the middle of Broadway was that she was below it. Underground. In the N and R subway station."
  3. ^ Susan Saulny, New York Times, In Subway Changes, W Follows V, but for Riders It's Not So Simple, section B, page 1: "The Q, N, R and W trains would all run on N and R tracks in Manhattan."
  4. ^ a b c d e Dougherty, Peter (2006). Tracks of the New York City Subway 2006 (3rd ed.). Dougherty – via Google Books. 
  5. ^ a b c d Senate, New York (State) Legislature (1916-01-01). Documents of the Senate of the State of New York. E. Croswell. 
  6. ^ Community Consulting Services, Inc. in association with George Haikalis, Transportation Consultant, Better Transit for Brooklyn: A Proposal for a Brooklyn Transit Agenda PDF (2.46 MiB), revised April 2003, page 49
  7. ^ Regional Rail Working Group, East River Tunnel PDF (687 KiB), page 4 (includes a map)
  8. ^ James Blaine Walker, Fifty Years of Rapid Transit, 1864-1917, published 1918, pp. 207-223
  9. ^ Engineering News, A New Subway Line for New York City, Volume 63, No. 10, March 10, 1910
  10. ^ James Blaine Walker, Fifty Years of Rapid Transit, 1864-1917, published 1918, pp. 224-241
  11. ^ "STATION SPACING FAVORS TIMES SQ.; B.R.T. Plan Might Put Two Express Stops Above There in Seventh Avenue AND EIGHT BLOCKS APART Besides Leaving No Room for New Station Between 42d and 32d Streets on Broadway.". The New York Times. 1913-12-02. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2016-08-03. 
  12. ^ Joseph Brennan, Abandoned Stations: City Hall (BMT) lower level, accessed March 21, 2007
  13. ^ Joseph Brennan, Abandoned Stations: Lexington Ave (BMT) unfinished platforms, accessed March 21, 2007
  14. ^ "Clipping from The Brooklyn Daily Eagle on". Brooklyn Public Library. 
  15. ^ Transit Commission, New Subways: Proposed Additions to Rapid Transit System, 1922
  16. ^ a b c d e New York Times, [1] Open First Section of Broadway Line, September 5, 1917
  17. ^ a b c d e f g h i New York Times, Open New Subway to Times Square, January 6, 1918
  18. ^ District, New York (State) Public Service Commission First (1919-01-01). Report of the Public Service Commission for the First District of the State of New York. J.B. Lyon Company. 
  19. ^ a b c d e f g h Legislative Documents. J.B. Lyon Company. 1920-01-01. 
  20. ^ a b New York Times, Broadway End of Subway Opened, July 10, 1919, page 36
  21. ^ a b c New York Times, Subway to Open Two New Stations, August 31, 1919, page 25
  22. ^ New York Times, Broadway-Fifty-Ninth Street Extension of B.R.T. Subway, August 1, 1920, page 92
  23. ^ New York Times, New B.R.T. Lines Open, August 2, 1920, page 17
  24. ^ [2]
  25. ^ "Ahead of 2nd Ave. Subway opening, MTA officially set to restore W service to Astoria". Second Ave. Sagas. Retrieved 2016-02-19. 
  26. ^ "MTA Confirms W Train is Coming Back". TWC News. Retrieved 2016-02-19. 
  27. ^ "MTA | Press Release | NYC Transit | MTA Advances Work On Second Avenue Subway Service". Retrieved 2016-02-19. 
  28. ^ "MTA | news | Change Allows More Transfers, Faster Commutes for Brooklyn Customers". Retrieved 2016-06-16. 

External links[edit]

Route map: Bing / Google

KML is from Wikidata