Posts Tagged ‘old subway signs’

Old subway signage of a less complicated city

April 10, 2017

It’s always fun to come across vintage subway signs at stations across New York—and often they can tell us something about how people got around underground in a very different 20th century city.

Take a look at this entrance at the Fulton Street Station downtown. The contemporary signage is functional and color-coded.

But it’s so much lovelier the old-school way, when the sign above the stairs simply tells you this will take you “down town.”

At the Lorimer Street stop in Williamsburg you can switch to the “crosstown line,” a phrase I don’t think I’ve ever heard anyone use when they say they’re about to jump on the G train.

It makes Brooklyn sound like one big town (or city, as it once was, of course) rather than collection of very different neighborhoods it is today.

“Subway Entrance” above this stairwell attached to the Trinity Building on Lower Broadway is done up in wonderful serif style. No train names or letters; its simplicity tells you everything you need to know.

Here’s one modern touch to get a kick out of: the stairs first lead you to a Subway sandwich shop.

Neglected subway signage from another New York

February 23, 2015

OldsubwaysignagechamberscloseupIt’s been decades since the MTA introduced the spiffy white-on-black subway station signs on platforms that clearly spell out the name of each station.

But they didn’t get rid of all the scruffy signage from decades past. Some 1970s-era examples can be found in some of the grungier corners of subterranean New York City.

Exhibit A: these long-neglected old-school signs at the Chambers Street 1, 2, and 3 train station.

Oldsubwaysignagechamberstreet

I guess someone made a half-hearted attempt to cover up the old “Chmb’rs” sign, then gave up after coating half of it in the blue paint used for the rest of the wall.

Oldsubwaysignstorplace

At Astor Place, it looks like someone souvenir-hunting tore off the newer Astor Place or Cooper Union signs, revealing this unglamorous one-word sign below.

An old subway sign points the way to New Jersey

November 17, 2014

Downtown’s Cortlandt Street R train station has a surprising old New York secret: mosaic tablets telling riders how to get to the Hudson Tubes—one of the early 1900s name for today’s PATH train tunnels.

Cortlandtstreethudsontubes

Until the late 1960s, the Hudson Terminal, which took riders through the Hudson Tubes to points in Hoboken and beyond, was located above ground near Cortlandt Street.

CortlandtstreetsubwaysignHudson Tubes signage still exists in other stations too, like at Sixth Avenue and 14th Street.

There the tiles point the way to the H&M Railroad, for Hudson and Manhattan, the line that used the Hudson Tubes.

It’s a much more illustrious name than PATH, no?

A scolding old-school subway sign at 34th Street

December 14, 2013

How many generations of rushed subway riders have been greeted by this scolding vintage wood sign, at the entrance to the Herald Square station on Sixth Avenue and 34th Street?

Sixthavenuesubwaysignold

It’s been forgotten by the MTA apparently; they’ve long since replaced most subway signs with uniform black signs.

Makes you think you’re back in grade school, no?

Outdated subway signs that still point the way

April 17, 2013

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.

Portauthoritysubwaysign

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.”

Concoursetrainsignarrow

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.

Pennstationsubwaysignage

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!

A vintage subway sign hangs on in the Village

January 4, 2013

It’s been more than a year since this old-school sign was uncovered after the removal of a newsstand in front of a subway entrance at Sixth Avenue and West Fourth Street (Gothamist scored the details in September 2011.)

Eighthavenuesubwaysign

Amazingly, the MTA hasn’t yet covered the slightly tattered but very charming sign. Could it be here to stay—a ghost from New York’s transit past reminding riders that the A, C, and E used to be part of the Independent Subway System, opened in 1932?

The IND ran as a separate network from the privately owned IRT and BMT lines for eight years, until all three lines merged into one enormous city-run system in 1940.

Ghostly subway signage at Chambers Street

August 23, 2012

Time stands still at the Chambers Street J and Z station.

This deteriorated stop on the BMT, under the Manhattan Municipal Building, is like a subterranean ghost town. Its platforms are mostly empty, and paint peels while water drips from the ceiling.

But there’s one upside to the terrible neglect: No one has bothered to paint over the old-school IRT Lexington Avenue signs on several beams.

Most of the signs—1960s or 1970s maybe?—are much more faded than this one. They once pointed the way to the busier, tidier Brooklyn Bridge-City Hall 6 train station connected via a passageway.

A ghostly subway sign for St. Vincent’s Hospital

December 7, 2011

It’s still a shock to see the dark, empty buildings clustered around West 12th Street and Seventh Avenue, home to St. Vincent’s until 2010.

This old sign, near a 13th Street exit at the Seventh Avenue and 14th Street station, is pulling a much slower fade.

It goes all the way to when St. Vincent’s was merely a hospital, not a medical center . . . .

A left behind subway sign at 42nd Street

February 11, 2010

I’m not sure when this sign dates to—the 1970s? The 1960s? Whenever New Yorkers still referred to trains by their old transit company initials rather than the letter or number.

Anyway, it sure doesn’t match the current New York City Transit sign motif.

It’s positioned high, almost out of view, just inside the 42nd Street A C E station as you enter the station from the lower level of the Port Authority.