IRT Lexington Avenue Line

Not to be confused with the now-demolished, elevated BMT Lexington Avenue Line in Brooklyn.
IRT Lexington Avenue Line

Services that use the IRT Lexington Avenue Line have been colored green since 1979. The original IRT numbering system provided for 4, 5, and 6 on the line.
Type Rapid transit line
System New York City Subway
Status Operational
Locale Manhattan, New York City, NY
Termini 125th Street
Brooklyn Bridge–City Hall
Stations 27 (23 in use)
Daily ridership 1,289,338 [1]
Opened 27 October 1904
Owner City of New York
Operator(s) New York City Transit Authority
Character Underground
Number of tracks 2–4
Track gauge 1,435 mm (4 ft 8 12 in)
Electrification 600V DC third rail
IRT Lexington Avenue Line
IRT Jerome Avenue and Pelham Lines
 Lexington Avenue Tunnel under Harlem River
125th Street
116th Street
110th Street
103rd Street
96th Street
86th Street
77th Street
68th Street – Hunter College
59th Street
51st Street
42nd Street Shuttle
Grand Central – 42nd Street
33rd Street
28th Street
23rd Street
18th Street (closed)
14th Street – Union Square
Astor Place
Bleecker Street
Spring Street
Canal Street
Worth Street (closed)
Brooklyn Bridge – City Hall
City Hall (closed)
Fulton Street
Wall Street
Bowling Green (shuttle platform and main line)
South Ferry
inner loop (closed)
& outer loop

The Lexington Avenue Line (also known as the East Side Line) is one of the lines of the IRT division of the New York City Subway, stretching from Downtown Brooklyn or Lower Manhattan north to 125th Street in East Harlem.[2] The portion in Lower and Midtown Manhattan was part of the city's first subway line. The line is served by the 4 5 6 <6> trains.

The line is also known as the IRT East Side Line. For a long time, it was the only line in Manhattan to directly serve the Upper East Side and East Midtown; this four-track line is the most used rapid transit line in the United States. Its average of 1.3 million daily riders is "more than the combined ridership of San Francisco, Chicago, and Boston’s entire transit systems." Its ridership also exceeds that of the 798,456 daily trips on the entire Washington Metro,[3] and in part spurred the construction of the Second Avenue Subway starting in 2007.[4]

Four stations along this line have been abandoned. When platforms were lengthened to fit ten cars, it was deemed most beneficial to close these stations and open new entrances for adjacent stations. The 18th Street station was abandoned because of the proximity to both 14th Street–Union Square and 23rd Street.[5] In addition, the City Hall and Worth Street stations were both very close to the Brooklyn Bridge–City Hall station's Brooklyn Bridge and Duane Street exits, respectively, so both were abandoned.[6][7] Finally, South Ferry is within walking distance of Bowling Green, and is right next to the corresponding station on the IRT Broadway–Seventh Avenue Line.

Extent and service

Services that use the Lexington Avenue Line are colored apple green. The following services use part or all of the Lexington Avenue Line:

  Time period Section of line
Rush hours
and middays
and weekends
Late nights
express local full line
no service full line (weekdays)
north of Bowling Green (evenings & weekends)
local north of Brooklyn Bridge–City Hall
local no service

The Lexington Avenue Line begins in lower Manhattan at the inner loop of the abandoned South Ferry station. North of the station is a merge with the tracks of the Joralemon Street Tunnel from Brooklyn, which become the express tracks. These run north under Broadway and Park Row to Centre Street. At the south end of Centre Street, directly under New York City Hall, is the City Hall Loop and its abandoned station, which was the southern terminus of the original IRT subway line. The loop is still used to turn 6 and <6> service; the Lexington Avenue local tracks, which feed the loop, rise up to join the express tracks just south of Brooklyn Bridge–City Hall station.

From Brooklyn Bridge, the line continues northward in a four-across track layout under Centre Street, Lafayette Street, Fourth Avenue, and Park Avenue South until 42nd Street. At this point, the beginning of Metro-North Railroad's Park Avenue tunnel in Grand Central Terminal forces the Lexington Avenue Line to shift slightly eastward to Lexington Avenue; its Grand Central–42nd Street station is located on the diagonal between Park and Lexington. Just south of Grand Central, a single non-revenue track connects the IRT 42nd Street Shuttle to the southbound local track; this was part of the original IRT subway alignment.

Under Lexington Avenue, the line assumes a two-over-two track configuration, with the local tracks running on the upper level and the express on the lower, although it briefly returns to a four-across layout between 96th Street and 116th Street. 125th Street returns to this two-over-two layout, although here the upper level is used by all northbound trains and the lower level by southbound trains.

North of this, the line crosses under the Harlem River into the Bronx via the four-track Lexington Avenue Tunnel, where the line splits into the IRT Jerome Avenue Line on the western two tracks (4 5 trains) and the IRT Pelham Line on the eastern two tracks (6 <6> trains).


First earth from Lexington Avenue subway line in 1913

Construction started on the first IRT line in 1900.[8] A 1902 explosion during construction seriously damaged properties just above the line.[9] The part of the line from City Hall to just south of 42nd Street was part of the original IRT line, opened on October 27, 1904.[10] A 0.3 mile extension to Fulton Street opened at 12:01 a.m. on January 16, 1905.[11] Only the northbound platform opened at this time[12][13] The next station, Wall Street, was opened on June 12, 1905 as well as the southbound platform at Fulton Street.[14][15][16]

The first revenue train on the South Ferry extension left South Ferry at 11:59 p.m. on July 9, 1905; the extension of the IRT White Plains Road Line to West Farms opened just after.[17]

The first train ran through the Joralemon Street Tunnel to Brooklyn about 12:45 a.m. on January 9, 1908.[18]

The original plan for what became the extension north of 42nd Street was to continue it south through Irving Place and into what is now the BMT Broadway Line at Ninth Street and Broadway. Contracts awarded on July 21, 1911 included Section 6 between 26th Street and 40th Street; at the time, the IRT had withdrawn from the talks, and the Brooklyn Rapid Transit Company (BRT) was to operate on Lexington Avenue. The IRT submitted an offer for what became its portion of the Dual Contracts on February 27, 1912,[19] and construction was soon halted on Section 6.[20]

The rest of the line, north to 125th Street, opened on July 17, 1918.[21] However, until the evening of August 1, 1918, it ran as a shuttle on the local tracks only, terminating at 42nd Street and at 167th Street on the IRT Jerome Avenue Line (where the connection from the elevated IRT Ninth Avenue Line merged). On August 1, service patterns were changed, and the Lexington Avenue Line became a through route. The IRT Broadway–Seventh Avenue Line also switched from shuttle operation at that time, and the IRT 42nd Street Shuttle was formed along the old connection between the sides. Due to the shape of the system, it was referred to as the "H system". The first section of the IRT Pelham Line also opened to Third Avenue–138th Street on August 1, 1918.[22]

On April 13, 1948, the platform extensions to accommodate ten-car trains at 23rd Street, 28th Street, and 33rd Street were opened for use.[23]

Brochure for the opening of the 59th Street express platforms

On November 15, 1962, the express platforms at Lexington Avenue–59th Street opened to reduce transfer congestion at Grand Central–42nd Street, and to allow transfers between the express trains and BMT trains to Queens. Even before the express platforms were added, this station was the busiest on the line.[24][25] Construction for the express station began on August 10, 1959. Along with the new express platforms, a new mezzanine was built above it to connect it to the local station, and the Broadway Line station. Two high speed escalators were added to connect the local and express platforms. Two additional high speed escalators were built to connect the local platforms with the new mezzanine. The express station opened three months prior than originally planned. As part of the plan, the local platforms were extended to accommodate 10-car trains. In addition, new entrances and booths were added to the 59th Street ends of the northbound and southbound sides. The whole cost of the project was $6,500,000.[26]

On August 28, 1991, an accident with a 4 train on the express track just north of the 14th Street–Union Square station killed five riders and injured 215 others in the worst accident on the system since the 1928 Times Square derailment. As a result of the crash, new safety protocols were put in place and there was a partial implementation of automation of the New York City Subway.

Station listing

Station service legend
Stops all times
Stops all times except late nights
Stops late nights only
Stops weekdays only
Stops all times except rush hours in the peak direction
Stops rush hours only
Stops rush hours in the peak direction only
Time period details
Station Tracks Services Opened Transfers and notes
Begins as a merge of the IRT Jerome Avenue Line (4  5 ) and IRT Pelham Line (6  <6>)
Lexington Avenue Tunnel
East Harlem 125th Street all 4  5  6  <6> July 17, 1918[21] Connection to Metro-North Railroad at Harlem–125th Street
M60 Select Bus Service to LaGuardia Airport
Elevators are out of service until October 3, 2016.
116th Street local 4  6  <6> July 17, 1918[21]
110th Street local 4  6  <6> July 17, 1918[21]
103rd Street local 4  6  <6> July 17, 1918[21]
Upper East Side 96th Street local 4  6  <6> July 17, 1918[21]
86th Street all 4  5  6  <6> July 17, 1918[21] M86 Select Bus Service
77th Street local 4  6  <6> July 17, 1918[21]
68th Street–Hunter College local 4  6  <6> July 17, 1918[21]
Midtown Manhattan 59th Street all 4  5  6  <6> July 17, 1918[21]
(1962, express)
N  R  W  (BMT Broadway Line at Lexington Avenue/59th Street)
MetroCard-only transfer to F  (IND 63rd Street Line at Lexington Avenue–63rd Street)
Roosevelt Island Tramway
This station was originally a local station. The lower level for express trains was opened in 1962.
51st Street local 4  6  <6> July 17, 1918[21] E  M  (IND Queens Boulevard Line at Lexington Avenue–53rd Street)
Grand Central–42nd Street all 4  5  6  <6> July 17, 1918[21] 7  <7> (IRT Flushing Line)
S  (42nd Street Shuttle)
Connection to Metro-North Railroad at Grand Central Terminal
merge on southbound local track to IRT 42nd Street Shuttle (no regular service)
Murray Hill 33rd Street local 4  6  <6> October 27, 1904[10] M34/M34A Select Bus Service
Rose Hill 28th Street local 4  6  <6> October 27, 1904[10]
Gramercy 23rd Street local 4  6  <6> October 27, 1904[10] M23 Select Bus Service
18th Street local October 27, 1904[10] closed November 7, 1948
Union Square 14th Street–Union Square all 4  5  6  <6> October 27, 1904[10] L  (BMT Canarsie Line)
N  Q  R  W  (BMT Broadway Line)
originally 14th Street
East Village Astor Place local 4  6  <6> October 27, 1904[10]
NoHo Bleecker Street local 4  6  <6> October 27, 1904[10] B  D  F  M  (IND Sixth Avenue Line at Broadway–Lafayette Street)
SoHo Spring Street local 4  6  <6> October 27, 1904[10] Abandoned trackway exists between express tracks with a signal room on top of it
Chinatown Canal Street local 4  6  <6> October 27, 1904[10] N  R  W  (BMT Broadway–Main line)
N  Q  (BMT Broadway–Manhattan Bridge line)
J  Z  (BMT Nassau Street Line)
Civic Center Worth Street local October 27, 1904[10] closed September 1, 1962
Brooklyn Bridge–City Hall all 4  5  6  <6> October 27, 1904[10] J  Z  (BMT Nassau Street Line at Chambers Street)
originally Brooklyn Bridge, then Brooklyn Bridge–Worth Street There were two side platforms that accommodated 5 car local trains. Also, there are closed platform extensions to the south.
local tracks leave the alignment of the express tracks; local trains short turn (6  <6>) via the loop
City Hall loop October 27, 1904[10] Closed December 31, 1945; currently used for local trains to short turn with no station stop. Lexington Avenue Line local trains stopped at station from 1904 to 1945 except late nights, when trains continued to South Ferry.
express trains continue (4  5 )
Financial District Fulton Street express 4  5  January 16, 1905[12] A  C  (IND Eighth Avenue Line)
J  Z  (BMT Nassau Street Line)
2  3  (IRT Broadway–Seventh Avenue Line)
Connection to N  R  W  at Cortlandt Street via Dey Street Passageway
Wall Street express 4  5  June 12, 1905[15]
Bowling Green express 4  5  July 10, 1905[17] M15 Select Bus Service
Staten Island Ferry at South Ferry
Splits to Brooklyn via the Joralemon Street Tunnel (4  5 ) to become the IRT Eastern Parkway Line Express tracks
Financial District express train short turn (5 ) via both loops
South Ferry both loops July 10, 1905[17] Inner platform closed February 12, 1977; currently used for express trains to short turn with no station stop. Lexington Avenue Line trains used the outer platform from July 10, 1905 to July 1, 1918 and from 1950 to February 12, 1977. The outer platform closed on March 16, 2009; which allows Lexington Avenue Line trains to again use both loop tracks.

In fiction

The train that was hijacked in the book The Taking of Pelham One Two Three by Morton Freedgood (writing as John Godey) and the three films based on the novel originated on the IRT Pelham Line from Pelham Bay Park at 1:23 P.M., hence the name "Pelham 123," and traveled on this (the Lexington Avenue) line.


  1. "Average Weekday Subway Ridership". Metropolitan Transportation Authority. 2016. Retrieved 8 November 2016.
  2. MTA Capital Construction, Second Avenue Subway, Supplemental Draft Environmental Impact Statement, "Chapter 5B: Transportation—Subway and Commuter Rail" (PDF). (317 KiB)
  3. "More than 200 Million Ride Metrorail for the Second Consecutive Year" (Press release). WMATA. July 5, 2007. Archived from the original on October 14, 2007.
  4. "Second Avenue Subway in the Borough of Manhattan, New York County, New York, Final Environmental Impact Statement and Final Section 4(f) and Section 6(f) Evaluation" (PDF). Federal Transit Administration, US Department of Transportation, MTA New York City Transit. April 6, 2004. Archived (PDF) from the original on April 25, 2012. Retrieved 13 June 2012.
  5. "IRT Staton to be Closed — New Style of Subway Platform Will Be Tried There". New York Times. November 6, 1948. p. 29. Retrieved 11 November 2016.
  6. "Old City Hall Station Of IRT to Close Monday". New York Times. December 27, 1945. p. 24. Retrieved 11 November 2016.
  7. Grutzner, Charles (September 1, 1962). "New Platform for IRT Locals At Brooklyn Bridge to End Jams — Sharp Curve on Northbound Side — Removed Station Extended to Worth St.". New York Times. p. 42. Retrieved 11 November 2016.
  8. "Rapid Transit TUnnel Begun — Ground Officially Broken by the Mayor with a Silver Spade — Felicitations and Speeches — Ceremonies Witnessed by Immense Unruly Crowd Eager for Souvenirs.". New York Times. March 25, 1900. p. 2. Retrieved 11 November 2016.
  9. "Death in Tunnel — Dynamite Explosion — 6 Killed, 125 Hurt in Park Avenue Disaster — Great Hotels In Ruins — Busy Hospital Wrecked and Fine Mansions Damaged Seriously — Money Loss Nearly $300,000 — Terrible Concussion, the Result of Fire in Powder House at 41st Street, Where Hundreds of Pounds of High Explosives Rested". New York Times. January 28, 1902. p. 1. Retrieved 19 December 2013. Dynamite cartridges in a frail shanty on a platform over the west shaft of Section 4 of the subway tunnel in Park Avenue just south of Forty-first Street exploded through a fire which started among paper in the shanty just after noon yesterday with fatal, maiming, and injuring results and wide destruction of property...
  10. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 "Our Subway Open, 150,000 Try It — Mayor McClellan Runs the First Official Train — Big Crowds Ride At Night — Average of 25,000 an Hour from 7 P.M. Till Past Midnight — Exercises in the City Hall — William Barclay Parsons, John B. McDonald, August Belmont, Alexander E. Orr, and John Starin Speak — Dinner at Night". New York Times. October 28, 1904. p. 1. Retrieved 6 November 2016.
  11. "Fulton St. Trains Monday — New Style of Subway Platform Will Be Tried There". New York Times. January 14, 1905. p. 5. Retrieved 11 November 2016.
  12. 1 2 "Subway at Fulton Street Busy". New York Times. January 27, 1905. p. 9. Retrieved 4 September 2016.
  13. "Another Centennial–Original Subway Extended To Fulton Street". New York Division Bulletin. New York Division, Electric Railroaders' Association. 48 (1). January 2005. Retrieved August 31, 2016 via Issu.
  14. Merritt, A.L. "Ten Years of the Subway (1914)". Interborough Bulletin—1914 via
  15. 1 2 "Subway Trains Will Run Again This Morning — Through Service Promised for the Rush-Hour Crowds — Tunnel Pumped Out At Last — Big Water Main That Burst Was an Old One, Pressed Into Service Again After a Five-Hour Watch". New York Times. June 13, 1905. p. 1. Retrieved 18 September 2016.
  16. "Subway to Wall St. Open in Ten Days — And All the Way to the Bronx by July 1 — Whole Road Ready in August — As to the Air Therein, William Barclay Parsons Says It Is Pure and Can't Be Bettered". New York Times. June 7, 1905. p. 16. Retrieved 18 September 2016.
  17. 1 2 3 "Subway Trains Running From Bronx to Battery — West Farms and South Ferry Stations Open at Midnight — Start Without a Hitch — Bowling Green Station Also Opened — Lenox Avenue Locals Take City Hall Loop Hereafter". New York Times. July 10, 1905. p. 1. Retrieved 4 September 2016.
  18. "Subway to Brooklyn Opened for Traffic — First Regular Passenger Train Went Under the East River Early This Morning — Not a Hitch in the Service — Gov. Hughes and Brooklyn Officials to Join in a Formal Celebration of Event To-day". New York Times. January 9, 1908. p. 1. Retrieved 11 November 2016.
  19. Walker, James Blaine (1918). Fifty Years of Rapid Transit — 1864 to 1917. New York, N.Y.: Law Printing. pp. 230–233. Retrieved 6 November 2016.
  20. "Petition for Subway in Lexington Ave.". New York Times. May 22, 1912. Retrieved 2009-02-16. A petition is being circulated among the residents and property owners of the section just south of the Grand Central Station, in Park and Lexington Avenues, protesting against the proposed abandonment of the construction of the Subway in Lexington Avenue, between Forty-third and Thirty-second Streets.
  21. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 "Lexington Av. Line to be Opened Today — Subway Service to East Side of Harlem and the Bronx Expected to Relieve Congestion — Begins With Local Trains — Running of Express Trains to Await Opening of Seventh Avenue Line of H System". New YorkTimes. July 17, 1918. p. 13. Retrieved 11 November 2016.
  22. "Open New Subway Lines to Traffic; Called a Triumph — Great H System Put in Operation Marks an Era in Railroad Construction — No Hitch in the Plans — But Public Gropes Blindly to Find the Way in Maze of New Stations — Thousands Go Astray — Leaders in City's Life Hail Accomplishment of Great Task at Meeting at the Astor". New York Times. August 2, 1918. p. 1. Retrieved 6 November 2016.
  23. Report for the Three and One-Half Years Ending June 30, 1949. New York City Board of Transportation. 1949.
  24. Katz, Ralph (November 9, 1962). "IRT Will Open Express Station At Lexington and 59th Thursday". New York Times. p. 37. Retrieved 11 November 2016.
  25. Katz, Ralph (November 16, 1962). "IRT Express Stop Opens at 59TH St. — East Side Station Had Been Local One Since 1918 Line's 4th-Busiest Stop". New York Times. p. 22. Retrieved 11 November 2016.
  26. "New 59th Street Express Station brochure". New York City Transit Authority. November 15, 1962. Retrieved 25 January 2016.

Route map: Bing / Google

KML is from Wikidata
Wikimedia Commons has media related to IRT Lexington Avenue Line.
This article is issued from Wikipedia - version of the 11/17/2016. The text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution/Share Alike but additional terms may apply for the media files.