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 Astor Place
 "6" train "6" express train
MTA NYC logo.svg New York City Subway station (rapid transit)
Astor Place 4 vc.jpg
Downtown platform
Station statistics
Address Astor Place & Lafayette Street
New York, NY 10003
Borough Manhattan
Locale NoHo / East Village
Coordinates 40°43′47″N 73°59′30″W / 40.72972°N 73.99167°W / 40.72972; -73.99167
Division A (IRT)
Line       IRT Lexington Avenue Line
Services       4 Template:NYCS time (late nights)
      6 Template:NYCS time (all times) <6>Template:NYCS time (weekdays until 8:45 p.m., peak direction)
Transit connections Bus transport NYCT Bus: M1, M2, M3, M8
Structure Underground
Platforms 2 side platforms
Tracks 4
Other information
Opened October 27, 1904 (117 years ago) (1904-10-27)
Station code 407
Accessible The mezzanine is compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, but the platforms are not compliant ADA-accessible to mezzanine only; platforms are not ADA-accessible (Elevator is present only in the southbound direction during Kmart operating hours)
Wireless service Wi-Fi and cellular service is provided at this station
Opposite-direction transfer available No
Former/other names Astor Place–Cooper Union
Cooper Union
Traffic
Passengers (2019) 5,502,925  Increase 7.7%
Rank 81 out of 425
Station succession
Next north 14th Street–Union Square: 4 Template:NYCS time6 Template:NYCS time <6>Template:NYCS time
Next south Bleecker Street: 4 Template:NYCS time6 Template:NYCS time <6>Template:NYCS time

Astor Place Subway Station (IRT)
MPS New York City Subway System MPS
NRHP reference No. 04001013
Significant dates
Added to NRHP September 17, 2004

Astor Place, also called Astor Place–Cooper Union on signs, is a local station on the IRT Lexington Avenue Line of the New York City Subway. Located at Fourth Avenue, Cooper Square, and Astor Place between the East Village and NoHo, it is served by 6 trains at all times, <6> trains during weekdays in the peak direction, and 4 trains during late night hours.

Built for the Interborough Rapid Transit Company (IRT), the Astor Place station was constructed as part of the city's first subway line, which was approved in 1900. Construction on the segment of the line that includes the Astor Place station started on September 12 of the same year. The station opened on October 27, 1904, as one of the original 28 stations of the New York City Subway. The station's platforms were lengthened in the late 1950s, and the station was renovated in the mid-1980s.

The Astor Place station contains two side platforms and four tracks; express trains use the inner two tracks to bypass the station. The station was built with tile and mosaic decorations. The platforms contain exits to Astor Place and are not connected to each other within fare control. The original station interior is a New York City designated landmark and listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

History

Construction and opening

Planning for the city's first subway line dates to the Rapid Transit Act, authorized by the New York State Legislature in 1894. The subway plans were drawn up by a team of engineers led by William Barclay Parsons, chief engineer of the Rapid Transit Commission. It called for a subway line from New York City Hall in lower Manhattan to the Upper West Side, where two branches would lead north into the Bronx. A plan was formally adopted in 1897, and legal challenges were resolved near the end of 1899. The Rapid Transit Construction Company, organized by John B. McDonald and funded by August Belmont Jr., signed Contract 1 with the Rapid Transit Commission in February 1900, in which it would construct the subway and maintain a 50-year operating lease from the opening of the line. In 1901, the firm of Heins & LaFarge was hired to design the underground stations. Belmont incorporated the Interborough Rapid Transit Company (IRT) in April 1902 to operate the subway.

The Astor Place station was constructed as part of the IRT's original line, particularly the section from Great Jones Street to 41st Street. Construction on this section of the line began on September 12, 1900. The section from Great Jones Street to a point 100 feet (30 m) north of 33rd Street had been awarded to Holbrook, Cabot & Daly Contracting Company. In the vicinity of the Astor Place station, the subway was to run under Lafayette Street, a new thoroughfare constructed between 1897 and 1905. This involved widening, connecting, and renaming two formerly unconnected streets: Elm Street, which ran south of Houston Street, and Lafayette Place, which ran north of Great Jones Street to an intersection with Astor Place. The southward extension of Lafayette Street and the construction of the subway required the demolition or underpinning of several buildings in the street's path. This resulted in the creation of narrow land lots on either side of Lafayette Street between Houston and Great Jones Streets, slightly south of the Astor Place station's site.

The Astor Place station opened on October 27, 1904, as one of the original 28 stations of the New York City Subway from City Hall to 145th Street on the Broadway–Seventh Avenue Line. The opening of the first subway line, and particularly the Astor Place station, helped contribute to more development in the East Village, which at the time was already densely populated. At its opening, the southbound platform had an entrance to the basement of the adjacent annex building of the Wanamaker's department store. After the initial system was completed in 1908, the station was served by local trains along both the West Side (now the Broadway–Seventh Avenue Line to Van Cortlandt Park–242nd Street) and East Side (now the Lenox Avenue Line). West Side local trains had their southern terminus at City Hall during rush hours and South Ferry at other times, and had their northern terminus at 242nd Street. East Side local trains ran from City Hall to Lenox Avenue (145th Street). In 1918, the Lexington Avenue Line opened north of Grand Central–42nd Street, thereby dividing the original line into an "H" system. All local trains were sent via the Lexington Avenue Line, running along the Pelham Line in the Bronx.

Service changes and station renovations

Astor Place 3 vc
Columns with alternating Astor Place and Cooper Union sign plates

Plans for the Hudson and Manhattan Railroad (H&M; now PATH), devised in the first decade of the 20th century, included a spur from the Uptown Hudson Tubes along Ninth Street to this station. At the time, the Uptown Tubes between New Jersey and Manhattan had been under construction intermittently since 1874, although work had stopped several times. By 1904, William Gibbs McAdoo was given the rights to complete the Uptown Tubes. As part of the plan, he would retain perpetual rights to build and operate an east–west crosstown line under Christopher Street and Ninth Street eastward to either Second Avenue or Astor Place, with no intermediate stops. Although the Uptown Tubes opened to 33rd Street in 1908, work on the Ninth Street spur stalled. By 1914, the Rapid Transit Commissioners had determined that the spur was unlikely to be built soon, so permission to build the Ninth Street tunnel was denied.

In 1909, to address overcrowding, the New York Public Service Commission proposed lengthening platforms at stations along the original IRT subway. On January 18, 1910, a modification was made to Contracts 1 and 2 to lengthen station platforms to accommodate ten-car express and six-car local trains. In addition to $1.5 million (equivalent to $34.2 million in 2018) spent on platform lengthening, $500,000 (equivalent to $11,396,429 in 2018) was spent on building additional entrances and exits. It was anticipated that these improvements would increase capacity by 25 percent. The northbound platform at the Astor Place station was extended 10 feet (3.0 m) in either direction, while the southbound platform was not lengthened.

After the closure of Wanamaker's in 1954, the northern building of the two-building complex was sold off and demolished. In July 1956, a fire gutted the building while it was being destroyed. When the fire was being extinguished, some water pooled in the basement and into a subterranean river parallel to the tracks, a likely tributary of Minetta Creek. In the aftermath, the Astor Place station was flooded, causing service to be rerouted for one week. In late 1959, contracts were awarded to extend the platforms at Bowling Green, Wall Street, Fulton Street, Canal Street, Spring Street, Bleecker Street, Astor Place, Grand Central–42nd Street, 86th Street, and 125th Street to 525 feet (160 m). In April 1960, work began on a $3,509,000 project (equivalent to $25.2 million in 2018) to lengthen platforms at seven of these stations to accommodate ten-car trains. The northbound platforms at Canal Street, Spring Street, Bleecker Street, and Astor Place were lengthened from 225 to 525 feet (69 to 160 m); the platform extensions at these stations opened on February 19, 1962.

In 1979, the New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission designated the space within the boundaries of the original station, excluding expansions made after 1904, as a city landmark. The station was designated along with eleven others on the original IRT. The Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) listed the station among the 69 most deteriorated stations in the subway system in 1981. As part of the Adopt-a-Station program, the Chemical Bank sponsored a $2.5 million renovation for the station, while the Committee for Astor Place cosponsored the project. Other sources of funding included $600,000 from the Federal Urban Mass Transit Administration, as well as $125,000 from private sources such as the Vincent Astor Foundation. The renovation started in June 1984 and was completed by May 1986. The scope of the project included the restoration of the platform's glazed ceramic beaver plaques, new improved lighting, the installation of noise-abatement material, as well as the installation of new brown floor tiles. A new piece of porcelain steel artwork by Cooper Union alumnus Milton Glaser was installed, and a cast-iron copy of one of the station's original kiosks was built. An underpass between the uptown and downtown platforms was closed and covered up in the 1980s renovation. The original interiors were listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2004.

Station layout

G Street level Entrances/exits
P
Platform level
Side platform
Northbound local "6" train"6" express train toward Pelham Bay Park or Parkchester (14th Street–Union Square)
"4" train toward Woodlawn late nights (14th Street–Union Square)
Northbound express "4" train"5" train do not stop here
Southbound express "4" train"5" train do not stop here →
Southbound local "6" train"6" express train toward Brooklyn Bridge (Bleecker Street)
"4" train toward New Lots Avenue late nights (Bleecker Street)
Side platform

Like other local stations, Astor Place has four tracks and two side platforms. The 6 stops here at all times, rush-hour and midday <6> trains stop here in the peak direction; and the 4 stops here during late nights. The two express tracks are used by the 4 and 5 trains during daytime hours. The platforms were originally 200 feet (61 m) long, as at other local stations on the original IRT, but as a result of the 1959 platform extensions, became 525 feet (160 m) long. The platform extensions are at the front ends of the original platforms: the southbound platform was extended southward and the northbound platform was extended northward. Both platforms are slightly curved.

Design

Faience plaque with beaver
Faience name tablet
Tile with initial "A"

As with other stations built as part of the original IRT, the tunnel is covered by a "U"-shaped trough that contains utility pipes and wires. The bottom of this trough contains a foundation of concrete no less than 4 inches (100 mm) thick. Each platform consists of 3-inch-thick (7.6 cm) concrete slabs, beneath which are drainage basins. The original platforms contain circular, cast-iron Doric-style columns spaced every 15 feet (4.6 m), while the platform extensions contain I-beam columns, some clad with white glazed tiles. The columns contain black-and-white signs alternating between "Astor Place" and "Cooper Union". Additional columns between the tracks, spaced every 5 feet (1.5 m), support the jack-arched concrete station roofs. The ceiling height varies based on whether there are utilities in the ceiling; the areas without utilities is about 15 feet (4.6 m) above platform level, while the area with utilities has a ceiling height of 8 feet (2.4 m). There is a 1-inch (25 mm) gap between the trough wall and the platform walls, which are made of 4-inch (100 mm)-thick brick covered over by a tiled finish.

The fare control areas are at platform level and there is no free transfer between directions. An underpass between the platforms was closed in the 1980s. The underpass had opened along with the rest of the station in 1904, making Astor Place one of the few locations in the original IRT where passengers could transfer between directions for free.

The walls along the platforms near the fare control areas consist of a brick wainscoting on the lowest part of the wall, with bronze air vents along the wainscoting, and white glass tiles above. The platform walls are divided at 15-foot (4.6 m) intervals by buff brick tile pilasters, or vertical bands; the wall sections between each pilaster contain a border of blue mosaic tiles. In the original portion of the station, each pilaster is topped by yellow faience plaques depicting beavers, surrounded by green scrolled and foliate motifs. The beaver plaques are a reference to John Jacob Astor, whose fortune had been derived from the beaver-pelt trade. A faience cornice with green urn and vine motifs runs atop these walls. Cream-on-blue faience plaques with the words "Astor Place" are also spaced at various intervals on the walls, a deviation from the tile plaques seen at other original IRT stations. The platform extensions contain similar decorative elements, but the pilasters are made of tan ceramic tiles, and the wall sections between each pilaster contain a border of blue ceramic tiles. Within the platform extensions' pilasters are tiled plaques with the vertical text "Astor". There were maroon and gold tile Cooper Union signs underneath the tile Astor Place signs, which were destroyed during the renovation. The decorative work was performed by tile contractor Manhattan Glass Tile Company and faience contractor Grueby Faience Company.

Astor Place IRT 008
Former women's restroom converted into newsstand

The northbound platform contains doorways that formerly led to men's and women's restrooms, with corresponding marble lintels. A news and candy stand is in the former women's restroom. North of fare control is a rounded seating area. An he northbound platform was used as a cover image of Billy Joel's 1976 album Turnstiles was shot on the uptown side of the station. On the southbound side, the station has an entrance and windows into a K-Mart. This store was originally constructed in 1868 as an A. T. Stewart. It had changed ownership and was a Wanamaker's when the station was constructed. The heavy brick-faced square columns on the downtown platform support the store above. The northern building of the Wanamaker's store burned in the 1950s, but the southern building, 770 Broadway, remains extant. The walls in this station contain modern enamel artwork. South of fare control is a doorway with a marble lintel reading "Clinton Hall". This doorway once led to the New York Mercantile Library in the former Astor Opera House.

Exits

Downtown entrance
Uptown entrance, a reproduction of an old IRT kiosk

The station has two entrances, one in each direction. The southbound platform's entrance is at the southwest corner of Astor Place and Lafayette Street. The street staircase on the southbound side contains relatively simple, modern steel railings like those seen at most New York City Subway stations.

The northbound platform's entrance is in the traffic island bounded by Fourth Avenue, Lafayette Street, and Eighth Street. Unlike the southbound entrance, the northbound entrance contains a highly decorative entrance, reminiscent of an entry kiosk seen on the original IRT. The structure is an imitation of the IRT's original entrance and exit kiosks, extremely ornate structures made of cast iron and glass. The IRT kiosks were inspired by those on the Budapest Metro, which themselves were inspired by ornate summer houses called "kushks". The Astor Place entrance is a reproduction installed in the 1980s, and was made at the same factory as the originals. Like the original entrance kiosks, it has a domed roof with cast-iron shingles.

Points of interest

Astor Place Kmart 3 vc
Entrance to Kmart on the southbound platform

Several sites of historical and cultural importance are near the station, such as New York University and Cooper Union. The Alamo, a cube sculpture above the northbound platform, is a popular visitor attraction in the area. Other points of interest include:

The Eighth Street–New York University station on the BMT Broadway Line is one block west of the station.

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