The Subway and Its Stations (1904)

From nycsubway.org


A view of the interior of the new subway in New York, showing the general arrangement of tracks and stations. Drawn by H. M. Pettit.

Harper's Weekly · January 31, 1903 · p. 176.

In the new subway in New York crowding will be eliminated by the simple device of providing one stairway for entrance and one for exit, and by making the platforms large enough to accommodate several hundred persons at once. There will be broad staircascs, of easy grade, ticket booths designed with reference to appearances as well its use, and the stations will have lofty vaulted ceilings well lighted by day through bulls-eye glass and at night by electric lamps. The decorations will be of tiles, faience, and glazed terra-cotta, with the name of the station plainly marked in panels. All the ornamentation has been designed to help the passenger recognize his station without the necessity of listening for the announcement of the of the guard or reading the signs. Express stations at the City Hall, Fourteenth Street, Forty-second Seventy-second, and Ninety-sixth streets naturally divide the local stations into groups. For each group a general scheme of decoration has been devised, and no two stations in a group are decorated in the same colors. For example, the ornamentation of all stations between the City Hall and Fourteenth Street will be characterized by long horizontal lines. The walls will be a white glass tile, the cornices of glazed terra-cotta, and the prevailing color of cornice and name panels will be, at the Worth Street station, dull green; at Canal, yellow; at Spring, white; at Bleecker, blue; and at Astor Place, bright green. Between Fourteenth and Forty-second streets, the decorations will be richer, and in panels instead of horizontal lines. Designs significant of the locality will be used wherever they can be appropriately. At Astor Place, beavers will appear in the designs; at Thirty-third Street, eagles, at Columbus Circle, Fifty-ninth Street, caravels; at One Hundred and Sixteenth Street, the blue and white of Columbia University. In other words, while no series of railway stations in the world will be so attractive to the eye as those of the Subway, there will be no meaningless ornamentation.


A typical station of the new subway, showing proposed arrangement and architectural details. Drawn by H. M. Pettit.

Repeated experiments have convinced the architects and engineers that the moisture and drip familiar to explorers of caves and tunnels call be avoided in the Subway stations by building air-chambers behind walls and ceilings. Accordingly, this method of construction has been adopted, and the underground will be damp-proof. The tunnel will be cooler in summer and warmer in winter than the upper air. Subway trains will be made up of coaches a little larger than the new cars of the Elevated roads, five in local trains and eight in expresses. The third rail and the motor-car have been adopted for propelling the trains, and the same system will be employed to run the suburban trains of the New York Central, Harlem, New Haven, and Portchester roads to the City Hall loop. The cars will be heated and lighted by electricity. The carrying capacity will be greater than that of the four lines of the present elevated system, owing chiefly to the greater speed of trains and the ease with which passengers can enter and leave stations and trains. Thirty miles an hour, including stops, will be the rule for expresses, and local trains will make considerably better time than the Elevated under existing conditions. Where the tunnel is near the street level, there will be fewer stairs to climb than at Elevated stations, and where the street is not readily accessible by stairways, such as at the One Hundred and Twenty-fifth Street Viaduct, elevators will be provided.

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