BMT Nassau Street Line

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BMT Nassau Street Line
"J" train "M" train "Z" train
The J and Z, which use the Nassau Street Line through downtown, are colored brown.
One station is also served by the M, which is now part of the IND Sixth Avenue Line.
OwnerCity of New York
TerminiEssex Street
Broad Street
TypeRapid transit
SystemNew York City Subway
Operator(s)New York City Transit Authority
Daily ridership126,833[1]
Number of tracks2–4
Track gauge4 ft 8 12 in (1,435 mm)
Electrification600V DC third rail
Route map

Essex Street
Canal Street
former connection
Chambers Street
Fulton Street
Broad Street

The BMT Nassau Street Line is a rapid transit line of the B Division of the New York City Subway system in Manhattan. It is a continuation of the BMT Jamaica Line in Brooklyn after crossing the Williamsburg Bridge into Manhattan; it continues to a junction with the BMT Broadway Line just before the Montague Street Tunnel. Afterwards, the line reenters Brooklyn. Although the tracks continue past Broad Street, there has been no regular service past that station since June 25, 2010. While the line is officially recognized as the Nassau Street Line,[2] it only serves one station on Nassau Street: Fulton Street.

The line is served at all times by the J train. The Z provides supplemental rush hour service, operating in the peak direction. The M service has historically served the Nassau Street Line, but since 2010, the M has been rerouted via the Chrystie Street Connection to run on the IND Sixth Avenue Line, as a replacement for the V, which was discontinued due to financial shortfalls. The M continues to serve one Nassau Street Line station: the Essex Street station.


The following services use part or all of the BMT Nassau Street Line.[3] The trunk line's bullets are colored brown:

  Time period Section of line
Rush hours Middays,
Late nights
"J" train local
"Z" train local in
peak direction
no service
"M" train Essex Street only no service


Planning, construction, and first section[edit]

After the original lines of the Interborough Rapid Transit Company (IRT) opened, the city began planning new lines. Two of these were extensions of that system, to Downtown Brooklyn and Van Cortlandt Park, but the other two – the Centre Street Loop subway (or Brooklyn Loop subway) and Fourth Avenue subway (in Brooklyn) – were separate lines for which construction had not progressed as far. The Centre Street Loop, approved on January 25, 1907 as a four-track line (earlier proposed as two tracks),[4] was to connect the Brooklyn Bridge, Manhattan Bridge, and Williamsburg Bridge via Centre Street, Canal Street, and Delancey Street. An extension south from the Brooklyn Bridge under William Street to Wall Street was also part of the plan, as were several loops towards the Hudson River and a loop connecting the bridges through Brooklyn. Trains coming from Brooklyn via the Manhattan and Williamsburg Bridges would be able to head back to that borough via the Brooklyn Bridge as well as the Montague Street Tunnel at the south end of the Centre Street Loop, and vice versa. All trains would pass through a large central station with four tracks and five platforms at Chambers Street, just north of the Brooklyn Bridge.[5]

Construction contracts for the main line in Manhattan were awarded in early 1907, though the city had not yet selected an operator for the line. The line was assigned to a proposed Tri-borough system in early 1908 and to the Brooklyn Rapid Transit Company (BRT) in the Dual Contracts, adopted on March 4, 1913.[6][7]

1908 plan for Chambers Street and the Brooklyn Bridge connection

The BRT began operating through a short piece of subway, coming off the Williamsburg Bridge under Delancey Street to Essex Street, on September 16, 1908.[8] The Centre Street Loop was opened to Chambers Street on August 4, 1913,[9] with temporary operation at first on the two west tracks.[10] The south tracks on the Manhattan Bridge, also running into Chambers Street, were placed in service on June 22, 1915.[11]


Under Contract 4 of the Dual Contracts, the BRT (later reorganized as the Brooklyn–Manhattan Transit Corporation or BMT) was to operate the Nassau Street Line. The southern portion of the line remained incomplete for several years, and the BRT brought a $30 million suit against the city for not building the line before January 1, 1917.[12] By 1924, most of the projects under the Dual Contracts had been completed, but not the Nassau Street Line. The BMT chairman Gerhard Dahl was persistent at requesting that the city build the line, but Mayor John Hylan refused to act during his final two years as mayor. Once James Walker succeeded him as mayor, contracts for the project were awarded, with the portion north of Liberty Street awarded to Marcus Contracting Company and the portion south of Liberty Street awarded to Moranti and Raymond.[13]

Group photo of the Marcus Contracting Co. taken during construction of the Nassau Street subway, circa 1928

Work was projected to be completed in 39 months, and in March 1929, sixty percent of the work had been finished. Nassau Street is only 34 feet (10 m) wide, and the subway floor was only 20 feet (6.1 m) below building foundations.[13] As a result, 89 buildings had to be underpinned to ensure that they would stay on their foundations, including the New York World, New York Tribune, Morse, and Temple Court Buildings, as well as the United States Subtreasury and Fraunces Tavern.[14] Construction had to be done 20 feet (6.1 m) below the active IRT Lexington Avenue Line. An area filled with quicksand and water, that used to belong to a spring, was found between John Street and Broad Street. Construction was done at night so as to not disturb workers in the Financial District. The whole cost of the construction of the line was $10.072 million for the 0.9 miles (1.4 km)-long extension, or $2,068 a foot, which was three times the normal cost of construction at the time.[13] Because of the curve of Nassau Street at Fulton Street, that station had to be constructed on two levels; the upper level carried southbound trains with entrances on the east side of Nassau Street, and the lower level carried northbound trains with entrances on the west side of Nassau Street.[14][15]

The Nassau Street Loop opened at 3 p.m. on May 29, 1931, when Mayor Jimmy Walker took the controls of a train of D-type Triplex cars from Chambers Street to Broad Street.[12] The line was extended two stops from its previous terminus at Chambers Street through the Fulton Street and Broad Street stations and to a connection to the Montague Street Tunnel, which allowed trains to run to Brooklyn.[16] The line's completion allowed subway trains to operate via the Culver Line, whose operation used to consist of elevated trains that ran to Ninth Avenue, where transfers were made to West End subway trains. The new line provided an additional ten percent capacity more than the existing service through DeKalb Avenue. Service on the Jamaica Line was extended to operate to this station.[17] The station at Wall Street was named "Broad Street" to distinguish it from the already-open Wall Street stations on the Lexington Avenue Line and Seventh Avenue Line.[14]

Plans for the Chambers Street area changed several times during construction, always including a never-completed connection to the Brooklyn Bridge tracks. By 1910, only the west two tracks were to rise onto the bridge, and the east two were to continue south to the Montague Street Tunnel. As actually built for the 1931 opening south of Chambers Street, the two outer tracks ran south to the tunnel, while the two inner tracks continued several blocks in a lower level stub tunnel to allow trains to reverse direction.[18]

Service changes and modifications[edit]

As part of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority's 2000–2004 Capital Program, the reconfiguration of the Nassau Street Line between Canal Street and Essex Street took place. As part of the plan, northbound trains were rerouted via the second track from the west, and the former northbound platforms at Canal Street and Bowery were closed. The second track from the east was removed. Work on the project started in 2001. This change took effect on September 20, 2004. The reconfiguration provided additional operational flexibility by providing a third through track (previously the center two tracks stub-ended at Canal Street), which was equipped with reverse signaling. The consolidation of the Bowery and Canal Street stations was intended to enhance customer security while consolidating passengers onto what used to be the southbound platforms.[19][20][21]:29 The project was completed in May 2005, seven months behind its scheduled completion.[22] The project cost $36 million.[23]

On June 14, 2015, weekend J service was extended back to Broad Street; this was proposed in July 2014 to improve weekend service between Lower Manhattan and Brooklyn.[24][25][26] Between 1990 and 2015, when weekend service terminated at Canal, between September 30, 1990[27] and January 1994,[28] or Chambers Streets, from January 1994 to June 2015, Broad Street and the J/Z platforms at Fulton Street were two of the four New York City Subway stations that lacked full-time service (the remaining two being the platforms for the IRT 42nd Street Shuttle).

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 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
Disabled access Station is compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act
Disabled access ↑ Station is compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act
in the indicated direction only
Disabled access ↓
Aiga elevator.svg Elevator access to mezzanine only
Disabled access Station Services Opened Transfers and notes
Begins as the BMT Jamaica Line from the Williamsburg Bridge (J all times M all times except late nights Z rush hours, peak direction​)
Lower East Side Essex Street J all times M all times except late nights Z rush hours, peak direction September 16, 1908[29] IND Sixth Avenue Line (F all times <F> two rush hour trains, peak direction​) at Delancey Street
Split to Chrystie Street Connection (M Weekday rush hours, middays and early evenings)
Bowery J all timesZ rush hours, peak direction August 4, 1913[9]
Chinatown Elevator access to mezzanine only Canal Street J all timesZ rush hours, peak direction August 4, 1913[9] BMT Broadway Line (N all timesQ all timesR all except late nightsW weekdays only)
IRT Lexington Avenue Line (4 late nights6 all times <6> weekdays until 8:45 p.m., peak direction)
Former Connection to Manhattan Bridge south tracks
Civic Center Disabled access Chambers Street J all timesZ rush hours, peak direction August 4, 1913[9] IRT Lexington Avenue Line (4 all times5 all times except late nights6 all times <6> weekdays until 8:45 p.m., peak direction) at Brooklyn Bridge–City Hall
Financial District Disabled access Fulton Street J all timesZ rush hours, peak direction May 29, 1931[15] IRT Broadway–Seventh Avenue Line (2 all times3 all except late nights)
IRT Lexington Avenue Line (4 all times5 all except late nights)
IND Eighth Avenue Line (A all timesC all except late nights)
Connection to BMT Broadway Line (N late nightsR all except late nightsW weekdays only) at Cortlandt Street via Dey Street Passageway
Connection to PATH at World Trade Center
Broad Street J all timesZ rush hours, peak direction May 29, 1931[15]
Terminus of all service
Line merges with the BMT Broadway Line (N late nights R all except late nights) and becomes the BMT Fourth Avenue Line via the Montague Street Tunnel


  1. ^ MTA. "Average weekday subway ridership". Retrieved April 2, 2014.
  2. ^ Dougherty, Peter (2006) [2002]. Tracks of the New York City Subway 2006 (3rd ed.). Dougherty. OCLC 49777633 – via Google Books.
  3. ^ "Subway Service Guide" (PDF). Metropolitan Transportation Authority. September 2019. Retrieved September 22, 2019.
  4. ^ "Subway Loop Approved; Will Have Four Tracks". The New York Times. January 26, 1907. p. 16. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved August 1, 2019.
  5. ^ Stevenson, Frederick Boyd (July 13, 1913). "Colonel Williams' View of Centre Street Loop". Brooklyn Daily Eagle. p. 23. Retrieved October 2, 2018.
  6. ^ James Blaine Walker, Fifty Years of Rapid Transit, 1864–1917, published 1918, pp. 203–239
  7. ^ Engineering News, A New Subway Line for New York City, Volume 63, No. 10, March 10, 1910
  8. ^ "Mayor Runs a Train Over New Bridge". The New York Times. September 17, 1908. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved January 26, 2020.
  9. ^ a b c d "Passenger Killed On Loop's First Day ; Printer, Impatient at Delay in New Bridge Subway, Tries to Walk the Track". The New York Times. August 5, 1913. p. 2. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved August 1, 2019.
  10. ^ Public Service Commission For the First District, New Subways For New York: The Dual System of Rapid Transit, Chapter 1
  11. ^ The City Record: Official Journal of the City of New York. New York City Board of City Record. October 15, 1915. p. 7827. Retrieved August 7, 2018.
  12. ^ a b Cunningham, Joseph; DeHart, Leonard O. (January 1, 1993). A History of the New York City Subway System. J. Schmidt, R. Giglio, and K. Lang.
  13. ^ a b c Linder, Bernard (February 2016). "Contract 4 Subway Controversy". The Bulletin. Electric Railroaders' Association. 59 (2). Retrieved July 28, 2016.
  14. ^ a b c "Nassau St. Subway To Open On May 30; Its Construction an Engineering Feat Because Many Buildings Had to Be Underpinned. Cost $10,072,000 To Build It Will Link B.M.T.'s Centre Street Loop With Tunnel Under East River. 14th St. Extension Ready Connection With Eighth Avenue Line Will Go Into Operation on the Same Day". The New York Times. May 10, 1931. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved July 28, 2016.
  15. ^ a b c Photo, Times Wide World (May 30, 1931). "Mayor Drives Train In New Subway Link; The Mayor Becomes A Motorman". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved July 28, 2016.
  16. ^ Derrick, Peter (April 1, 2002). Tunneling to the Future: The Story of the Great Subway Expansion That Saved New York. NYU Press. ISBN 9780814719541.
  17. ^ "Nassau St. Service Outlined By B.M.T.; Loop to Be Used for Direct Connection From Brooklyn and Jamaica to Manhattan. To Start 14th St. Line New Schedules Filed With Transit Board Provide Full Subway Ride on Culver Line". The New York Times. May 21, 1931. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved July 28, 2016.
  18. ^ Joseph Brennan, Abandoned Stations: Chambers St closed platforms, accessed March 22, 2007
  19. ^ Joseph Brennan, Abandoned Stations: Canal St platform, accessed April 18, 2007
  20. ^ Peter Dougherty, Tracks of the New York City Subway, Centennial Commemorative Edition 3.7a, 2004, page 65
  21. ^ Update, the MTA Plan for 2000–2004: Strategic Business Plan, Agency 2001 Operating Budgets, Financial Plan. Metropolitan Transportation Authority. 2000.
  22. ^ Committee, New York City Transit Authority Transit (2006). Transit Committee Meeting. MTA New York City Transit Committee. pp. 95, 96.
  23. ^ "Capital Program 2000–2004 MTA New York City Transit". Archived from the original on February 9, 2005. Retrieved November 12, 2017.
  24. ^ " – 2014 – 2017 MTA Financial Plan".
  25. ^ "MTA – news – MTA's Proposed 2015 Budget Includes Systemwide Service Enhancements".
  26. ^ "J train service upgrade part of MTA's new financial plan".
  27. ^ "Service Changes September 30, 1990" (PDF). New York City Transit Authority. September 30, 1990. Retrieved May 1, 2016 – via
  28. ^ Glickman, Todd (October 6, 1998). "Archive of NYC Subway Maps". Retrieved July 28, 2016.
  29. ^

External links[edit]

Route map:

KML is from Wikidata