Outdated subway signs that still point the way

There are regular subway signs, and then there are the ones that give clear directions—in these cases, using names no longer widely used.

The Port Authority Building, the Art Deco structure built in 1932 that stretches from 14th to 15th Streets on Eighth Avenue, must have been important; it scored its own sign in the station at that corner.


Google bought it in 2010, and it now serves as their famous New York City headquarters. I wonder what old-school Port Authority employees would think of the trick doors in the library and Lego play area.

Here’s a peek inside, courtesy of The Wall Street Journal.

I’d never heard of the B and D trains referred to as “concourse trains.”


But they made up a branch of the IND called the Concourse Line, opened in 1933 and running from 145th Street (where the photo was located) and 205th Street in the Bronx, under the Grand Concourse.


Penn Railroad sounds quaint, but it’s easy enough to decipher. I wonder how many tourists and new New Yorkers know what BMT and H&M mean—and no, it certainly has nothing to do with the store!

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12 Responses to “Outdated subway signs that still point the way”

  1. Michele Says:

    BMT stood for Brooklyn-Manhattan Transit, just as IRT stood for Interboro Rapid Transit and IND for Independent – they all still used those names well into the 60s. There apparently was an H&M line in the distant past as well.

  2. manhattan resident Says:

    It’s the old name for the PATH. H&M, Hudson and Manhattan, used to be called the Tubes. There. was a connection from the 8th Avenue to the PATH. It was under Gimbels. It was a tunnel connecting the 6th,7th and 8th avenue subways. Closed in the 1980’s due to high crime.

  3. The Edmonton Tourist Says:

    I particularly like the sign that is tiled in Black and White and says Boardway. It kind of tells you where you are 🙂

  4. ephemeralnewyork Says:

    You mean the Brodaway sign, or is there actually one that says Boardway?


  5. Kevin Says:

    My father was a civil engineer with the Port Authority. They moved everyone to the World Trade Center after it was built and they were unable to initially attract commercial tenants to the WTC.

  6. petey Says:

    i grew up hearing them called IRT, BMT, IND and still sometimes use those names when i can’t think of the exact letter or number of a line.

  7. An old subway sign points the way to New Jersey | Ephemeral New York Says:

    […] Hudson Tubes signage still exists in other stations too, like at Sixth Avenue and 14th Street. […]

  8. Deb at The Front Door Project Says:

    I guess using tile mosaic signage wasn’t the best idea in retrospect given all of the changes that have happened over the years, but it sure does look awesome and is artwork on its own.

  9. The old-school subway signs at Chambers Street | Ephemeral New York Says:

    […] that take you back in time to a different New York as you make your way to your train. Luckily, other examples of vintage subway signage can be found in and outside various stations through the […]

  10. Mike Olshan Says:

    Outdated? This sign has helped me to find my way to Penn Station to ride the Amtrak, and the H&M, which I know as the Hudson Tube from the old radio commercials, is still running between Manhattan and New Jersey under some other name. Every New Yorker knows which trains are BMT, IND, or IRT.

  11. Chip Says:

    Certainly not “outdated”. These signs were clear and were readily understood as to which lines they were pointing. And yes, of course they were referred to as “Concourse Lines”. Just as other parts of the IND were referred to as “Smith Street Lines” (on signs in Brooklyn) and “6th Avenue Lines”.

    • velovixen Says:

      Chip— I recall hearing those names while growing up in Brooklyn during the ‘60s and early ‘70’s. The nearest subway lines to us were commonly referred to as the “Culver” or “Mc Donald Avenue” line (the current F train), the West End Line (current D train) and the Culver Shuttle, which connected the two and was discontinued in the late ‘70’s, if I recall correctly.

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