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Old passageway between IRT and BMT at Times Square


dolowicz

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Hello all,

 

About 5-10 years ago I remember reading about this old passageway at Times Square that had been opened up while the complex was being renovated. A member of Subchat wrote that he saw it while going from the Shuttle and walking down to the BMT. He described it as being located close to the right set of staircases and when taking a peek inside the boarded wall, he saw incandescent lights, old tiles and a horrible smell.

 

In the book "Helvetica and the New York Subway" by Paul Shaw, there is a diagram by Bob Noorda dating back to 1966 that shows his study of traffic flow at Times Square. It's hard to make out but you can definitely see the passageway there, located right next to the staircase leading down to the BMT. It ends up in the IRT passageway near the newspaper stand.

 

In a diagram dating back to circa 1975, this passageway is no longer visible. You can see the entrance to it, but doors are sealing it off. The other side shows no mention of it. Although I am sure the passage was still there, but no longer depicted.

 

I am assuming this was the first transfer that was built when they merged the IRT with the BMT at this complex and that it was later deemed too narrow to handle all the passengers using it to transfer. Hence why there is a much larger transfer space now.

 

Does anyone recall this old passageway and perhaps you even used it back in the day?

 

Attaching a photo by John Conn from the 1980s that vaguely shows the entrance from the BMT side. You can see a man being passed out on the first two steps that leads into it. Although the doors can not be clearly seen.

 

Subway-Birth-W_large.jpg?101821

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Are you talking about the underpass from one side of the shuttle to the other? This runs parallel to the BMT, and in fact, the BMT express tracks separate right north of the station to make way for it, and the glass floor tiles to bring some light to it are visible on the floor near the shuttle. So it came up somewhere near the BMT stairs, and runs to the far side of the shuttle.

It obviously stems from a time when what is now the shuttle was the through IRT mainline, so an underpass was the only way to get across.

 

That's the only sealed [old] passage I know of in the complex. (Not sure what IRT passageway and newsstand you're talking about).

 

I often wonder if they might use that as an extension of the new Bank of America passage (sealed, but brand new, not old) as a shortcut instead of having to go all the way around the end of the shuttle tracks. Though I wondered if it would be too narrow.

 

I've been waiting for them to do something over there, and break through the wall where some rooms were built, and there used to be a door to the old building where the Durst towers were built. I don't know what's going on with that. The other end of the passage (built in the sidewalk vault of the new 1 Bryant Park or BOA tower) is clearly visible on the 6th Ave. mezzanine, behind a temporary wall and the fencing. The mid block entrance is apparently underneath a wide bench in the new arcade they built, and the red globe is already up on the curb.

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No, not the Shuttle underpass. It was sealed with a cage on one end and slabbed over on the other.

 

This passageway connected the BMT mezzanine with the IRT mezzanine under west 42nd Street. There were (and still is) a newspaper stand between the stairs down to the IRT platforms and the passageway ended up near these.

 

Today there is a NYCT retail store and public toilets in the same area that housed the passageway. If anyone remembers the narrow exit that lead directly from the BMT mezzanine up to the street - this passageway was directly next to it.

 

Attaching a resized slightly enhanced version of the same photo above. The passageway opening can see on the top right side, there is a man laying on the tiny staircase leading into it. On the left side is the tiny street level exit that is fenced off and has two old school high gate exits.

 

2w57fns.jpg

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I used the passageway occasionally in around 1961. I cannot recall the details that far back, but I remember preferring the larger passageway as I used to stop at a large snack bar that had burgers, hot dogs, knishes, soft ice cream, and other "health foods" that appealed to a fourteen-year-old schoolboy.:P

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From the location you're giving, it sounds like the passage would have just been joined with the larger one. For it to have been where the retail space and bathrooms are and come out by the newspaper stand. So then part of it must have become the space leading to the escalators to the street.

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There could have possibly been a passage there.

When going to the shuttle tracks at TSQ, one can note that the wall to the right & past Track 1 makes a slight curve. The wall peice is different on that "curve", suggesting that its sealing off something.

 

If a passage went that way, It would have gone west of the bank & gone straight into the Newsstand between the IRT 7th Avenue line platforms. The only problem is is that there is no evidence whatsoever except the wall.

 

It makes me wonder why the (MTA) would have not kept this open since it is very inconvenient to walk around the wall and walk to the (1)(2)(3).

 

Are you talking about the underpass from one side of the shuttle to the other? This runs parallel to the BMT, and in fact, the BMT express tracks separate right north of the station to make way for it, and the glass floor tiles to bring some light to it are visible on the floor near the shuttle. So it came up somewhere near the BMT stairs, and runs to the far side of the shuttle.

It obviously stems from a time when what is now the shuttle was the through IRT mainline, so an underpass was the only way to get across.

 

Thats a good question, what did connect Track 4 with the rest of Times Square? Weird.

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In my high school days in the mid-1970's, I used the Times Square station often, so I'm wondering if the following platform that I'm describing is the one that you're talking about.

 

Imagine that you're at the IRT #1-2-3 platforms near the middle of the station, there are two sets of stairs upward - that have signs that talks about the NY Port Authority Bus Terminal, and the #7 train. If you turn around - and look down the platform - there are two stairways downward for the #7 trains closer to the local train on each platform on the "south" part of the platform - and of course two passageways to the #7 train on the "north" part of the platform.

 

Anyway taking the stairway up, there is a walkway that leads to the #7 train, and stairs to the bus terminal - however if you keep walking with the crowd, the passageway narrowed to about four persons across. Then this passageway led to a set of stairs downward just at the BMT subway, just ahead of the entrance to the downtown BMT platforms, near where there used to be a Latin Music store that played loud music. Ahead of you would the entrance to the two ramps that used to exist for the BMT platforms, and between those ramps while still on the mezzanine was an old-style newsstand.

 

My memory is a bit hazy on whether this same passageway led to the several level ramp walkway to the #7 train or not. But I do remember and used a second way to the BMT trains, apart from the main passageway at the ends of the IRT 1-2-3 platforms.

 

Mike

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You still have the long passageway with all the escalators to the south (41st St). This was reconfigured a bit in conjunction with the work done where it crosses the 7th Ave line, and not too long ago was connected directly to the BMT southbound platform with a new stair. And you still have the short passage (running parallel to the BMT, and lit with old train car lighting fixtures and glass brick displays on the wall) connecting it with the main BMT mezzanine.

So there's three exists on both BMT and IRT. The main TSQ complex under 42nd St. to the north, south mezzanines on 40th St. and the 41st St passageway connecting both to the Port Authority.

 

What the OP is talking about was apparently connected with the north mezzanines under 42nd.

 

(Update on BOA passageway: Durst site has now added that it is "contingent on MTA build-out" http://www.durst.org/properties/one_bryant_park.php

 

So then it is (MTA) that is holding it up. Probably waiting until they have funds to punch through the connection, and I just remembered, they'll probably have to do the whole Disabilities accessibility treatment. Still wonder if they might try to use the shuttle underpass).

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From the location you're giving, it sounds like the passage would have just been joined with the larger one. For it to have been where the retail space and bathrooms are and come out by the newspaper stand. So then part of it must have become the space leading to the escalators to the street.

 

Well yes... and no. It looks more like it was built long before the "big one" and when they realized it was too narrow and needed a bigger area I assume they opened up the 1904 IRT station and connected it both with the BMT and other IRT stations, which makes sense.

 

This old passageway cut right through where there is a exit with escalators, a shop and public restrooms. It was lit with incandescent lights and probably littered with adverts on the walls.

 

It would be interesting to see a photo or two from it, but I guess that won't happen. It was probably closed in the late 60s or early 70s and probably a location no one found interesting enough to photograph.

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Anyway taking the stairway up, there is a walkway that leads to the #7 train, and stairs to the bus terminal - however if you keep walking with the crowd, the passageway narrowed to about four persons across. Then this passageway led to a set of stairs downward just at the BMT subway, just ahead of the entrance to the downtown BMT platforms, near where there used to be a Latin Music store that played loud music. Ahead of you would the entrance to the two ramps that used to exist for the BMT platforms, and between those ramps while still on the mezzanine was an old-style newsstand.

 

 

You are in the right area Mike. It sounds like you walked up to the IRT mezzanine and used the old passageway to transfer to the BMT, this old passageway would end up by the stairs that lead down to the low portion of the BMT mezzanine, which up until the 90s probably had its two ramps intact. If you take a look at the photo above you can see where you would have ended up, the photo was taken from the BMT stairs that you describe. Behind the photographer there would be a burger joint, a flower shop and a record store.

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Here is a quick mockup based on a diagram of the complex from the mid 1970s. I have drawn where this old passageway was located and how it is relative to other places. The complex has changed so much over the years, it's hard to recognize it. But at least the newspaper stand at the top is still there today which should give you a good reference point.

 

I also marked where the photo above was taken with a green marker.

 

Does this make it more familiar to you? Anyone know which passageway I am referring to?

 

2j4sxnl.png

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<i>About 5-10 years ago I remember reading about this old passageway at Times Square that had been opened up while the complex was being renovated. A member of Subchat wrote that he saw it while going from the Shuttle and walking down to the BMT. He described it as being located close to the right set of staircases and when taking a peek inside the boarded wall, he saw incandescent lights, old tiles and a horrible smell.</i>

 

I may have been the one who made that post on sub-chat. Construction workers had broken into the floor of the shuttle platform just to the south of track one. although I did not have a clear view I did see a tiled wall below the platform. At first I thought that this was the south end of the long abandoned underpass between the north and southbound shuttle platforms. I spoke to Mark W about this and he said that what I saw was the old BMT mezzanine which was actually below the shuttle platform. If anyone has more info about this I would like to hear it.

 

Larry, RedbirdR33

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I may have been the one who made that post on sub-chat. Construction workers had broken into the floor of the shuttle platform just to the south of track one. although I did not have a clear view I did see a tiled wall below the platform. At first I thought that this was the south end of the long abandoned underpass between the north and southbound shuttle platforms. I spoke to Mark W about this and he said that what I saw was the old BMT mezzanine which was actually below the shuttle platform. If anyone has more info about this I would like to hear it.

 

It might have very well been you Larry. But as far as I remember the description was for something near the staircases to the BMT mezzanine and during the renovation of the complex around 8-10 years ago I assume that such a passageway or old exit might have been uncovered again.

 

Although, what you are saying fascinates me also. I had no idea the BMT mezzanine extended further against the shuttle, it makes sense though because if it was a independent station when it was built and with no connections or transfers from it, the mezzanine needs to be bigger to accomodate the crowds (I recall something it there not being any connections between the stations at TSQ until the 30s).

 

If you take a look at the diagram above you can see that there is a arrow pointing down next to the big sets of stairs to the BMT mezzanine, right below the FLORIST. On the actual diagram it reads "ramp down", which could explain what you are saying about a hidden mezzanine underneath the shuttle platforms. There is even a door there, which makes this even more plausible.

 

Like Larry asks, does anyone know more about this hidden mezzanine?

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awx8ue.jpg

 

The above clip shows Times Square around 1999 before the recent renovations. If you jump 59 seconds into it, you can see the big set of stairs leading up from the BMT mezzanine up to the shuttle and transfer to the IRT lines.

 

On the left side next to it you can kind of make out a very narrow passage, this is the same location as on the diagram that would ramp down and have a door at the other end. It would have to ramp down to actually even be able to house a mezzanine underneath the shuttle platforms.

 

 

 

Below is a photo from the only surviving staircase to the old IRT Shuttle underpass. Judging from the photo it looks fairly deep, so it probably is located deeper than a possible BMT mezzanine running next to it.

 

img_23954.jpg

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Another 'lost' feature of the Times Square complex was in the passageway connecting it to the 8th Avenue - 42nd Street IND station. As you headed up the ramp from the Flushing Line mezzanine, you exited the fare control zone. Located behind where the newstand now exists, was an exit to 41st Street, west of 7th Avenue. That was a convenience in inclement weather, if your destination was in that vicinity.

Of course, at that time, there was no free transfer between the two stations, so overall, we're much better off with the present arrangement.

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That map you posted really helps. So it was behind the retail space, not through it. (the retail space separated the two passages). So yes, it basically became the new escalator exit, for that's what's behind the retail; and the space of the passage under the escalators became the restrooms.

 

Funny it was still in the old configuration as late as '99. I remember them redoing the whole area, but forgot all about what exactly it looked like before. They changed it so much, and I'm used to the way it is now. All I remember was that the retail space (which was closed) had segmental archways, sort of like the Prospect Park carousel or what you see several places in Grand Central. I thought they would preserve that, but they removed it and redid the whole ceiling.

I forgot what was behind it. Surprised, because I'm very into passages and mystery sealed up things.

I also completely forgot the old exit. I clearly remember the "To IRT Flushing" passage, which I was describing this morning, and the ramps (always wished they left them) but never paid much attention to the area closer to what we're talking about.

 

And yes, that underpass is probably deeper than the mezzanine, because, again, the BMT express tracks have to separate in order to make way for it. When looking out on the express, you see what looks like a thick wall like a long room between the tracks, but there are no doors or openings from the tracks.

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Another 'lost' feature of the Times Square complex was in the passageway connecting it to the 8th Avenue - 42nd Street IND station. As you headed up the ramp from the Flushing Line mezzanine, you exited the fare control zone. Located behind where the newstand now exists, was an exit to 41st Street, west of 7th Avenue. That was a convenience in inclement weather, if your destination was in that vicinity.

Of course, at that time, there was no free transfer between the two stations, so overall, we're much better off with the present arrangement.

 

The passageway is still there, they only removed the ramps and installed them with stairs. Not sure which exit you are referring to though, was it inside the TSQ complex or inside the 42st / 8th Avenue station?

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That map you posted really helps. So it was behind the retail space, not through it. (the retail space separated the two passages). So yes, it basically became the new escalator exit, for that's what's behind the retail; and the space of the passage under the escalators became the restrooms.

 

Funny it was still in the old configuration as late as '99. I remember them redoing the whole area, but forgot all about what exactly it looked like before. They changed it so much, and I'm used to the way it is now. All I remember was that the retail space (which was closed) had segmental archways, sort of like the Prospect Park carousel or what you see several places in Grand Central. I thought they would preserve that, but they removed it and redid the whole ceiling.

I forgot what was behind it. Surprised, because I'm very into passages and mystery sealed up things.

I also completely forgot the old exit. I clearly remember the "To IRT Flushing" passage, which I was describing this morning, and the ramps (always wished they left them) but never paid much attention to the area closer to what we're talking about.

 

And yes, that underpass is probably deeper than the mezzanine, because, again, the BMT express tracks have to separate in order to make way for it. When looking out on the express, you see what looks like a thick wall like a long room between the tracks, but there are no doors or openings from the tracks.

 

Yes the retail space separated the two passageways. Anyone remember what kind of store or stores where there back in the day and when they were boarded up?

 

In the diagram there is no mention of the passage though, it just says "private property", it neither mentions if there are any stores or not in this area. You can however make out doors into this area and what looks like big columns, which I assume held up the arches you describe.

 

I agree about the depth, if the BMT mezzanine was on the same level you would be able to make it out from the track level. Wish we could get some more info about this old BMT mezzanine though, it's the first time I've heard about such a thing and I am really fascinated by abandoned and boarded up areas. I guess if it still exists today it could turn out to be a real time capsule.

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The passageway is still there, they only removed the ramps and installed them with stairs. Not sure which exit you are referring to though, was it inside the TSQ complex or inside the 42st / 8th Avenue station?
I think the exit is the one that comes up right behind the Red Lobster. This is on the NW corner of 41st and 7th.

 

There's also the little exit on the SW corner of 41st and Bway (By the Office Depot). This was closed for a long time, but reopened when the project was finished (and the new stair to the downtown BMT next to it opened).

 

Yes the retail space separated the two passageways. Anyone remember what kind of store or stores where there back in the day and when they were boarded up?
Wasn't it supposed to be the same famous Hispanic owned record store that reopened (now selling mostly videos)? I know they were waiting for it to move back there after being displaced for so many years.

I think I remember the Nedicks used to be directly across from that, where the ATM bank is.

In the diagram there is no mention of the passage though, it just says "private property", it neither mentions if there are any stores or not in this area. You can however make out doors into this area and what looks like big columns, which I assume held up the arches you describe.

Yes, that would be them. I think the columns are the same, they just gutted all the masonry on it, and redid it all modern.

I agree about the depth, if the BMT mezzanine was on the same level you would be able to make it out from the track level. Wish we could get some more info about this old BMT mezzanine though, it's the first time I've heard about such a thing and I am really fascinated by abandoned and boarded up areas. I guess if it still exists today it could turn out to be a real time capsule.

I think the old BMT mezzanine is just the open space that is there today, where the stairs to the platforms lead, (and the elevators added) and its own newstand there between the stairs that used to be the ramps. That whole lower deck area. (Of course, they way they integrated the whole complex, it no longer looks like a separate mezzanine, but just another part of the whole concourse and shuttle area).
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The passageway is still there, they only removed the ramps and installed them with stairs. Not sure which exit you are referring to though, was it inside the TSQ complex or inside the 42st / 8th Avenue station?

 

The ramp (singular) is still there, not replaced by stairs. You probably are confused with the area I am referring to. It is at the extreme western end of the Flushing line mezzanine. It rises to the level of the long passageway under 41st Street that connects with the 8th Avenue - 42nd Street station.

Since the IRT section is older than the IND station, at one time there was no connecting passage, just an exit to 41st Street somewhat west of 7th Avenue. I believe there was even a change booth there. When they did build the passage, the exit remained for several decades. It was only when they decided to make the passage part of the fare control zone to allow free transfers between the two stations that they closed the exit. The area is just behind or west of the current newstand at that location. There is a door next to the newstand that may lead to a utility room or something that may reveal traces of what was there, but I've never seen it open.

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<i>The ramp (singular) is still there, not replaced by stairs. You probably are confused with the area I am referring to. It is at the extreme western end of the Flushing line mezzanine. It rises to the level of the long passageway under 41st Street that connects with the 8th Avenue - 42nd Street station.

Since the IRT section is older than the IND station, at one time there was no connecting passage, just an exit to 41st Street somewhat west of 7th Avenue. I believe there was even a change booth there. When they did build the passage, the exit remained for several decades. It was only when they decided to make the passage part of the fare control zone to allow free transfers between the two stations that they closed the exit. The area is just behind or west of the current newstand at that location. There is a door next to the newstand that may lead to a utility room or something that may reveal traces of what was there, but I've never seen it open.</i>

 

There most certainly was a change booth there. Before the entire complex was made a free transfer point that booth marked the end of the control zone. In other words you could walk underground all the way from the Times Square IRT/BMT platforms to the IND 42 Street platforms but once you reached that change booth you had to exit from the control zone. If you wished to board the IND you had to pay an additional fare once you reached 8th Avenue. A few years ago I was walking through that passageway and a door was open that allowed me to see the remains of the control area. I have to look at it from the street level to see if any evidence of it remains.

 

Larry, RedbirdR33

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The ramp (singular) is still there, not replaced by stairs. You probably are confused with the area I am referring to. It is at the extreme western end of the Flushing line mezzanine. It rises to the level of the long passageway under 41st Street that connects with the 8th Avenue - 42nd Street station.

Since the IRT section is older than the IND station, at one time there was no connecting passage, just an exit to 41st Street somewhat west of 7th Avenue. I believe there was even a change booth there. When they did build the passage, the exit remained for several decades. It was only when they decided to make the passage part of the fare control zone to allow free transfers between the two stations that they closed the exit. The area is just behind or west of the current newstand at that location. There is a door next to the newstand that may lead to a utility room or something that may reveal traces of what was there, but I've never seen it open.

Oh, that exit. (I thought you meant more on the 7Av/Bway end of the passage) Yeah, that's still closed.

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<i>The ramp (singular) is still there, not replaced by stairs. You probably are confused with the area I am referring to. It is at the extreme western end of the Flushing line mezzanine. It rises to the level of the long passageway under 41st Street that connects with the 8th Avenue - 42nd Street station.

Since the IRT section is older than the IND station, at one time there was no connecting passage, just an exit to 41st Street somewhat west of 7th Avenue. I believe there was even a change booth there. When they did build the passage, the exit remained for several decades. It was only when they decided to make the passage part of the fare control zone to allow free transfers between the two stations that they closed the exit. The area is just behind or west of the current newstand at that location. There is a door next to the newstand that may lead to a utility room or something that may reveal traces of what was there, but I've never seen it open.</i>

 

There most certainly was a change booth there. Before the entire complex was made a free transfer point that booth marked the end of the control zone. In other words you could walk underground all the way from the Times Square IRT/BMT platforms to the IND 42 Street platforms but once you reached that change booth you had to exit from the control zone. If you wished to board the IND you had to pay an additional fare once you reached 8th Avenue. A few years ago I was walking through that passageway and a door was open that allowed me to see the remains of the control area. I have to look at it from the street level to see if any evidence of it remains.

 

Larry, RedbirdR33

 

That's a good idea. I think I'll try that too. Only not sure exactly how far down 41st Street to look, not even sure but it must be on the south side of the street. I'll have to guestimate the distance, unless someone on this board can remember a landmark or store that is still there as a reference point.

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