Thursday, February 4, 2010

B/D/F Train From Herald Square to West 4th Street

OK, this post is about the portion of the 6th Avenue subway that runs between Herald Square (34th Street) and West 4th Street in Greenwich Village. As mentioned in a prior post, this was one of my contributions to an all-day walking tour that took place on November 15, 2009.


The 6th Avenue subway was the last of the Manhattan subway lines to be built, with service beginning in 1940. It replaced the 6th Avenue El, which was built in the 1870s as the second El in Manhattan and demolished in 1939.

Below are two pictures of Herald Square, looking north, with and without the 6th Avenue El. In both pictures, 6th Avenue is on the left and Broadway is on the right.

The construction of the 6th Avenue subway was very complex due to the prior existence of the Broadway subway, the PATH train’s 6th Avenue line, the Amtrak/LIRR tunnels, the 8th Avenue subway, and the 14th Street subway, all shown on the map below.

The Herald Square station is probably the most complicated piece of subway construction ever attempted. A partial schematic of the station is shown below.

Here are some of the complications:
When it was built, several rail lines, streets, utilities, and water lines had to be supported or avoided.
The station serves the 6th Avenue subway, the Broadway subway, and the PATH train.
The 6th Avenue subway is below the Broadway subway tracks, and above the LIRR tracks.
The 6th Avenue tracks dip down in the middle of the Herald Square station, and the ends are higher.

The photo below was taken outside the West 4th Street station, looking north along 6th Avenue. Bigelow Drugs and the Jefferson Market Library are still here.

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