IND World's Fair Line

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IND World's Fair Line
A train operating on the World's Fair railroad line in the middle of a field
A colored image of a GG train on the IND World's Fair Line c. 1939. This is one of the few colored pictures of the line in existence.
Type Rapid Transit
System New York City Subway
Independent Subway System
Status Closed; demolished
Locale Queens, New York City, New York
Termini East of 71st Avenue Station
World's Fair Station, Flushing Meadows–Corona Park
Stations 1
Services IND Queens Boulevard Line
Opened April 22, 1939 (1939-04-22)
Closed October 28, 1940 (1940-10-28)
Depot(s) Jamaica Yard
Rolling stock R1-9[1]
Line length 8,400 feet (2,600 m)
Track gauge 1,435 mm (4 ft 8 12 in) standard gauge

The IND World's Fair Line, officially the World's Fair Railroad,[2] was a branch of the Independent Subway System (IND) serving the 1939 New York World's Fair in Queens, New York City. It split from the IND Queens Boulevard Line at an existing flying junction east of Forest Hills–71st Avenue station, ran through the Jamaica Yard and then ran northeast and north through Flushing Meadows–Corona Park (roughly where the Van Wyck Expressway is now) on a wooden trestle to the World's Fair Railroad station, a bit south of Horace Harding Boulevard (now the Long Island Expressway). The World's Fair station was the only one on the line.

The line was planned beginning in 1936, and it was constructed in 1938. The line and station were only open in 1939 and 1940 during the Fair's operating season. The World's Fair Railroad and station are the only IND line and station to have been closed and demolished.[1][3][4] Remnants of the line are still present in the Jamaica Yard.


The Jamaica Yard, which connected the World's Fair and Queens Boulevard Lines.

In December 1936, a request was sent to the New York City Board of Estimate by the Board of Transportation and the New York State Transit Commission in order to have adequate rapid transit facilities to handle World's Fair crowds when the fair opened in 1939. An extension of the city-operated Independent Subway System (IND) to the World's Fair was part of this plan, facilitated by the extension of the Queens Boulevard Line to Union Turnpike and the nearby Jamaica storage yard which opened at the end of the month. It would cost about $1.2 million, with $700K of it for its construction and $500K for its equipment.[5][6][7] For legal and financial reasons, the line was called the "World's Fair Railroad" and was considered a separate entity from the IND. Part of this designation included the state legislation approving the "double-fare" for the line (see below).[2][8][9] The contract for the IND World's Fair Line was awarded on October 26, 1937 by the Board of Transportation to the P. T. Cox Contracting Company for a bid of $308,770.[10][11] The World's Fair extension was opposed by Park's Commissioner Robert Moses, who oversaw the World's Fair.[12][13]

In its planning stages in 1937, it was discussed by the City Board of Estimate to make the line a permanent connection to Flushing Meadows Park following the end of the fair, with the possibility of intermediate stations along the line to serve the local area (today's Kew Gardens Hills and Flushing). The upgrades to make the line permanent would have cost around $6 million. However, it was determined to be impractical due to the absence of permanent attractions in the park (Citi Field, USTA) that are present today.[14][15][16]

In early 1938, construction on the IND World's Fair Line began. It originated at the Queens Boulevard portal of Jamaica Yard, using the western yard leads from 71st−Continental Avenues. The line ran along the eastern edge of Flushing Meadows–Corona Park for 8,400 feet to approximately what is now the interchange of the Long Island Expressway and the Van Wyck Expressway. The line consisted of two tracks ending in a stub-end terminal called World's Fair Station. It was built on a pine wooden trestle across the marshy swampland, which was then filled in. The line was designed to be removed following the fair in 1940.[5][6][10][15][16][17]

Test trains on the IND World's Fair Line were run beginning on April 22, 1939, and it opened on April 30, 1939. The GG mostly serviced the line between Smith–Ninth Streets and the World's Fair Station, with E express service between World's Fair Station and Hudson Terminal during the PM rush hour and evening. Service generally ran until 1:00am.[18][19][20]

The 1939 World's Fair had two seasons: one each in 1939 and 1940, which ended in the fall months of the year. The IND World's Fair Line was closed between seasons, and at the end of the Fair the line was set to be demolished. The last train ran on October 28, 1940, three days before the closure of the Fair. While most of the fairgrounds were torn down soon after the event, the line remained intact for several months afterward. Queens borough president George U. Harvey proposed extending the line to serve the then-developing neighborhoods of Flushing, College Point, and Whitestone, along with the recently opened Queens College. This plan was supported by the local communities, elected officials in Queens, and the president of Queens College. It was deemed to be unfeasible, however, by the Board of Transportation due to the fact that the trestle was constructed to be temporary, and due to regulations at the time which required permanent lines for subway service to be built underground. Parks and highway commissioner Robert Moses, meanwhile, wished to utilize the right-of-way for the further development of Flushing Meadows Park and the extension of the Van Wyck Expressway towards the Whitestone Expressway and the Whitestone Bridge. Demolition of the line was authorized in December 1940, and on January 15, 1941, removal of the line commenced. The right-of-way was replaced with an extension of 136th Street, and eventually the northern portion of the Van Wyck Expressway which formed today's Interstate 678.[3][10][14][21][22] Today, the seven grade time signals installed for the line in the Jamaica Yard leads, used to control revenue traffic, are now used instead to control yard traffic.[3]

In 1960, one possibility for transit access to the 1964 World's Fair was an extension of the IND Queens Boulevard Line to the fair grounds. Robert Moses, who was going to take over as president of the World's Fair on May 15, 1960, rejected the proposal once he found out that the line would have cost $10,000,000.[23]


World's Fair
Former New York City Subway rapid transit station
NY Worlds Fair Station.jpg
Station statistics
Borough Queens
Locale Flushing Meadows
Line IND Queens Boulevard/World's Fair Line
Services None (demolished)
Structure At-grade
Tracks 2
Other information
Opened April 22, 1939 (1939-04-22)[4]
Closed October 28, 1940 (1940-10-28)[4]
Former/other names Horace Harding Boulevard[18]
Station succession
Next north (Terminal): no regular service
Next south Forest Hills–71st Avenue: no regular service

World's Fair was the line's railroad southern (but geographically northern) terminus and its sole station, located in the Amusement Area of the World's Fair.[5][6][10][21] The station was a temporary[16][17] stub-end terminal with two tracks and three platforms, organized in what was essentially a Spanish solution. A third layup track was built south of the station.[3] It was alternately named Horace Harding Boulevard, after the avenue where it was located.[18] The station was open for just nineteen months, from April 22, 1939, to October 28, 1940.[1][4]

To enter the station, an additional 5-cent fare was charged on top of the standard nickel fare. 18 special turnstiles were used at the World's Fair station that permitted traffic flow in both directions and accepted two different fares depending on the direction of travel. Fairgoers disembarking from trains paid a nickel as they exited through the turnstiles while passengers entering the station from the fairgrounds paid a ten-cent fare upon passing through the turnstiles.[1][8][9][19] The double-fare was instituted to avoid a financial deficit.[9] The stations on the IND Rockaway Line, opened in 1956, would later employ this fare system until 1975.[14][24][25]

Competing IRT and BMT service[edit]

The Interborough Rapid Transit Company (IRT) and Brooklyn–Manhattan Transit Corporation (BMT) also served the World's Fair, but did so directly with World's Fair (now Mets–Willets Point) station on the dual-operated Flushing Line (which was rebuilt into an express station for the Fair). A Long Island Rail Road station (now Mets–Willets Point) was built next to the Flushing Line station.[3][8]


  1. ^ a b c d Marzlock, Ron (October 25, 2007). "IND Subway Line To 1939 World’s Fair". Queens Chronicle. Retrieved July 6, 2015. 
  2. ^ a b "WORLD'S FAIR SPUR MAY CHARGE DIME; Independent Subway Link to Have Turnstiles With 2-Way Coin Mechanism PAY TO GET OUT REQUIRED City Authorization Lacking for Plan, Devised to Avoid Deficit in Operation Spur Held Separate Line Road to Cost $2,000,000". The New York Times. August 27, 1938. Retrieved July 7, 2015. 
  3. ^ a b c d e IND World's Fair Railroad
  4. ^ a b c d The World's Fair Railroad
  5. ^ a b c "EXPANDED TRANSIT FOR FAIR IS ASKED; State and City Boards Join in Plea for Appropriation of $1,850,000.". The New York Times. December 24, 1936. Retrieved July 6, 2015. 
  6. ^ a b c "TEST TRAINS RUNNING IN QUEENS SUBWAY: Switch and Signal Equipment of New Independent Line Is Being Checked.". The New York Times. December 20, 1936. Retrieved July 6, 2015. 
  7. ^ "Plans to be Drawn for 6th Av. Subway". The New York Times. April 1, 1935. Retrieved June 30, 2015. 
  8. ^ a b c "Ride to Fair to Cost 10 Cents: City to Set Rate for Independent Branch Line to Cover Expense of Building It" (PDF). The New York Sun. February 18, 1939. p. 21. Retrieved July 31, 2016. 
  9. ^ a b c "City Prepared For Dime Fare To Exposition: Passengers Would Pay Nickel on Leaving World's Fair Spur". Brooklyn Daily Eagle. August 27, 1938. p. 2. Retrieved August 5, 2016 – via 
  10. ^ a b c d "TO BUILD FAIR SUBWAY P. T. Cox Co. Wins Award for Extending Independent System The first contract for the World's Fair spur from the Queens Boulevard line of the Independent Subway System was awarded yesterday by the Board of Transportation to the lowest bidder, the P. T. Cox Contracting Company, at the bid price of $308,770.". The New York Times. October 27, 1937. Retrieved July 6, 2015. 
  11. ^ "Contract Is Let For Spur to Fair: P.T. Cox Co. to Build 2-Track Link With City Subway-Cost $308,770" (PDF). Brooklyn Daily Eagle. October 27, 1937. p. 4. Retrieved July 30, 2016. 
  12. ^ "MAYOR ASKS DATA ON SUBWAY TO FAIR: Calls Hearing on Proposal for Independent Line Spur in Spite of Moses's Criticism". The New York Times. February 6, 1937. Retrieved July 6, 2015. 
  13. ^ "Moses Assails Proposed City Subway to Fair". Brooklyn Daily Eagle. February 4, 1937. p. 2. Retrieved July 4, 2016 – via 
  14. ^ a b c Joseph B. Raskin (November 1, 2013). The Routes Not Taken: A Trip Through New York City's Unbuilt Subway System. Fordham University Press. ISBN 978-0-8232-5369-2. Retrieved August 12, 2015. 
  15. ^ a b "Fair Subway Cost Set at $1,700,000". The New York Times. July 22, 1937. 
  16. ^ a b c "BOARD GETS REPORT ON FAIR SUBWAY SPUR; Estimated Cost Is $1,742,000 for Construction, Operation and Removal in 1940". The New York Times. July 3, 1937. Retrieved July 7, 2015. 
  17. ^ a b "CITY SUBWAY SPUR TO THE FAIR URGED: Delaney and Fullen Jointly Propose Extension From Queens Boulevard. COST PUT AT $1,200,000 Enlargement of Willets Point 1. R. T.-B. M. T. Station Also Is Recommended. Expenses Are Estimated Two Tracks Are Provided". The New York Times. January 15, 1937. Retrieved July 6, 2015. 
  18. ^ a b c "HOW TO GET TO THE FAIR GROUNDS; BY SUBWAY". The New York Times. April 30, 1939. Retrieved July 7, 2015. 
  19. ^ a b "CITY SUBWAY RIDE TO FAIR TO COST 10C Board Holds Dime Charge Is Necessary to Pay for Branch Line to the Grounds". The New York Times. February 18, 1939. Retrieved July 6, 2015. 
  20. ^ "NEW SUBWAY SPUR IS READY TO OPEN: First Train to Start Four Minutes Before the Fair Officially Begins". The New York Times. April 17, 1939. Retrieved July 7, 2015. 
  21. ^ a b "CITY LINE TO FAIR CARRIED 7,066,948; 2-Mile Spur Had Only 54% of Passengers Expected From Attendance Estimates". The New York Times. November 3, 1939. Retrieved July 7, 2015. 
  22. ^ "END OF SUBWAY SPUR TO FAIR NOW URGED: Transportation Board Asks the Right to Demolish It". The New York Times. November 26, 1940. Retrieved July 7, 2015. 
  23. ^ "64 FAIR PLANS SET BY TRANSIT BOARD; Authority Seeks 10 Million for 80 More Cars -- Will Improve IRT Station IND EXTENSION VETOED Moses Against Expense of Building New Spur -- Some '39 Structures Remain". New York Times. April 27, 1960. Retrieved February 8, 2016. 
  24. ^ Freeman, Ira Henry (June 28, 1956). "Rockaway Trains to Operate Today". The New York Times. Retrieved June 29, 2015. 
  25. ^ "Beachcomber" (PDF). Wave of Long Island. March 23, 1977. p. 11. Retrieved July 22, 2016. 

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