- IRT Flushing Line
IRT Flushing Line
The 7 and 7 Express trains serve the entire IRT Flushing Line at all times
Overview Type Rapid transit System New York City Subway Termini Flushing – Main Street
Stations 21 Operation Opened 1915-1928 Owner City of New York Operator(s) New York City Transit Authority Character Underground (Manhattan, Western Queens and Main Street)
Elevated (Most of Queens)
Technical No. of tracks 2-5 Track gauge 4 ft 8 1⁄2 in (1,435 mm) Electrification 600V DC third rail
The Flushing Line is a rapid transit route of the New York City Subway system, operated as part of the IRT Division and designated the 7 route. It runs from Flushing in Queens to Times Square in Manhattan, carrying trains of the 7 local service (as well as the express <7> rush hours in the peak direction), and is shown in the color purple on station signs, the NYC Subway Map and route signs on the front and sides of the subway cars. Before the line was opened all the way to Flushing, it was known as the Corona Line or Woodside and Corona Line. Prior to the discontinuance of BMT services in 1949, the portion of the IRT Flushing Line between Times Square and Queensboro Plaza was known as the Queensboro Line. Express trains run to Manhattan from 06:00 am to 10:00 am (6:00 to 10:00 ET ) and from Manhattan from 3:00 pm to 9:30 pm (15:00 to 21:30 ET). Express service is also provided during New York Mets games and U.S. Open matches.
The Flushing Line has various styles of architecture, which range from steel girder elevated structures to European-style concrete viaducts. The underground stations have some unique designs as well, such as Hunters Point Avenue, which is in an Italianate style and Grand Central – 42nd Street, which is a single round tube similar to a London Underground station.
Extent and service
The line has two distinct sections, split by the Queensboro Plaza station. It begins as a three-track subway, with the center track used for express service, at Flushing – Main Street. It quickly leaves the ground onto a steel elevated structure above Roosevelt Avenue, passing Citi Field and the USTA National Tennis Center. A flying junction between Mets – Willets Point and 111th Street provides access to Corona Yard from the local tracks. At 48th Street in Sunnyside, the line switches to Queens Boulevard and an ornate concrete viaduct begins. The express track ends between 33rd Street – Rawson Street and Queensboro Plaza.
At Queensboro Plaza, the eastbound track (railroad north) is above the westbound track, with both Flushing Line tracks on the south side of the island platforms. On the north side of these platforms is the BMT Astoria Line. East of this point, both the Flushing Line and the Astoria Line were operated by the IRT and the BMT; details on that dual operation are in the Background section. Connections still exist between the eastbound tracks just east of the platforms, but they cannot be used for revenue service because BMT trains are wider than IRT trains. This is the only track connection between the Flushing Line and the rest of the subway system.
West of Queensboro Plaza, the line immediately turns south onto an elevated structure over 23rd Street. It heads into the west end of Amtrak's Sunnyside Yard, and passes through two underground stations before entering Manhattan via the Steinway Tunnel under the East River. In Manhattan, the line runs under 42nd Street, with part directly underneath the 42nd Street Shuttle (S train), before angling towards 41st Street and ending at the huge Times Square – 42nd Street station, with no track connections to other lines.
Plans are underway to extend the Flushing Line west to Manhattan's Far West Side. A decommissioned lower level at the IND Eighth Avenue Line's 42nd Street – Port Authority Bus Terminal station formerly blocked the way; it had been rumored that the IND built it to keep the IRT from extending the Flushing Line, although all initial blueprints indicate that the IRT never planned such an expansion. While some have questioned the necessity of the plan, with London receiving the 2012 Summer Olympics, as of September 2009 the plan is still going forward.
The Flushing Line is one of only two New York City non-shuttle subway lines that hosts only a single service and does not share operating trackage with any other line or service; the other is the BMT Canarsie Line, carrying the L service. Because of this, there are plans to automate the line with new trains using CBTC, similar to the Canarsie Line.
The IRT Flushing Line has the distinction of running the longest trains on the New York subway, by number of cars. Flushing Line trains are 11 cars long; most other New York City subway services run 10-car or 8-car trains. The trains are not the longest by total length, however, as an IND/BMT 10-car train is still 39 feet (12 m) longer than an 11-car IRT train. Having 11 cars also gives it the distinction of running an odd number of cars which other train services do not.
Even though subway service started in 1915, construction on the portion of the line that ran under the East River was originally started by the East River Tunnel Railroad on February 25, 1885. The original intent of the line was to connect the Long Island Rail Road with the New York Central Railroad, one end of the tunnel being at the terminal of each railroad. Other than an engineering survey of the East River at the tunnel site, nothing else was done, and in 1887, the company reorganized as the New York and Long Island Railroad. The tunnel was planned to run from approximately 42nd Street and Tenth Avenue, under 42nd Street, then under the East River to Van Alst (now 21st) Avenue. The rest of the line in Queens would be on private right-of-way, and various mappings were planned and revised for this section of route.
Various problems occurred and caused extensive delays and cost overruns. William Steinway, founder of Steinway & Sons, became involved in 1890, and the tunnel was popularly known as the Steinway Tunnel. He felt that controlling operations of the tunnel company would boost the value of his real estate and envisioned operating the tunnels using electricity. On June 3, 1892, groundbreaking occurred at 50th Avenue between Vernon and Jackson Avenues in Queens. However, a series of mishaps, such as an underground water spring that hampered debris removal, followed by lawsuits by property owners along the line, forced the company to board up the tunnel on February 2, 1893. Various attempts to restart the project between 1893 and 1896 (when Steinway died), and proposals to extend the line into New Jersey, all failed.
In February 1902, August Belmont, Jr. became interested in the project, which became known as the Belmont Tunnel, although Belmont preferred the project be known as the Steinway Tunnel. By May 16, 1907, the north (westbound) tube was broken through, and the south tunnel was broken through on August 7 of the same year. The landfill from the tunnel excavations had been used to construct nearby Belmont Island, later called U Thant Island, on an existing outcrop in the East River.
Because the Pennsylvania Railroad planned to build a very large station at 32nd and 33rd Streets on the West Side, and also planned to tunnel under the Hudson and East Rivers, the motive power for the tunnels was changed to interurban trolley cars. However, because of the low clearance of the tunnels, typical trolley wire could not be used; instead, overhead third rail was hung from the roof of the tunnel using special brackets. The Van Alst Avenue station was originally on a loop at the end of a 50-foot (15 m) radius curve located near 50th Avenue and Van Alst Avenue. At Grand Central, there was another loop located under Park Avenue and 42nd Street. The tunnel officially opened on September 24 for Belmont, the Mayor and other officials. However, because Belmont did not have a franchise to operate the line, or a company to run it (because of litigation with New York City), he was forced to board up the tunnel. From October 23, 1907 until 1915, the completed tunnel was idle of traffic.
On April 3, 1913, the City of New York purchased the tunnels from Belmont as part of the Dual Contracts for $3 million, and the tunnels were placed under IRT operation. With minor modifications, the tunnel could accommodate subway trains. Because of the steep grade of the tunnels, special "Steinway" cars were built to run on the line. With the conversion to rapid transit, the loops on both ends of the Steinway tunnels were abandoned. No vestiges of the Queens loop remain today as the Hunters Point Avenue station occupies the site. Remnants of the Manhattan loop still exist, but are occupied by machinery and not accessible by passengers. The Manhattan loop is just west of the current Grand Central station. IRT "Steinway" cars made the first test trip on June 13, 1915. Regularly scheduled subway service began on the line, then known as the Queensboro Tunnel, from Grand Central to Vernon Boulevard – Jackson Avenue at noon on June 22, 1915.
Queensboro Plaza and beyond
At Queensboro Plaza, the line met the BMT's 60th Street Tunnel, as well as a spur from the elevated IRT Second Avenue Line on the Queensboro Bridge. From this point east, the Flushing and Astoria Lines were built by the City of New York as part of the Dual Contracts. They were officially IRT lines on which the BMT held irrevocable and equal trackage rights. Because BMT trains were wider, and the platforms had been built for the IRT, normal BMT trains ran only to Queensboro Plaza, with a transfer to shuttles, using elevated cars, that alternated between the Astoria – Ditmars Boulevard and Flushing – Main Street terminals. IRT trains simply continued from the Queensboro Line and Queensboro Bridge onto the lines to Astoria and Flushing, originally called the Corona Line or Woodside and Corona Line before it was completed to Flushing.
The line was opened from Queensboro Plaza to 103rd Street – Corona Plaza on April 21, 1917. BMT shuttles began to use the line (and the BMT Astoria Line) on April 8, 1923. East of there, sources conflict on when each section opened. A New York Times article from May 8 reports that service began on May 7 to what is now the Mets–Willets Point station, and mentions delays due to the structure sinking. Articles from May 13 and May 15 cover a celebration to coincide with the opening to the Willets Point stop on May 14. Finally, a January 22, 1928 article reports that the line had ended at 103rd Street–Corona Plaza until January 21; the extension had been finished over a year earlier but had to be strengthened due to structural problems.
Flushing – Main Street was not originally intended to be the end of the line. The Public Service Commission, in June 1913, was actively engaged in considering extensions of the line beyond Flushing, but these extensions, later planned as part of a large system expansion, were never built.
Currently and historically, IRT subway services on the Flushing Line were assigned the number 7, though this did not appear on any equipment until the introduction of the R12 class cars in 1948. The BMT services were assigned the BMT number 9, used on maps but not trains.
Western extensions were also built, with part underneath the 42nd Street Shuttle:
- Grand Central to Fifth Avenue – Bryant Park on March 22, 1926
- west to Times Square on March 14, 1927
For the 1939 New York World's Fair, the Mets – Willets Point station was rebuilt and centered on 123rd Street, just west of where the station originally lay. Some remnants of the old station are still visible; ironwork tends to indicate where the older outside-platform stations were, and the remains of the fare entry area can be seen east of the current station. The original Willets Point Boulevard station was a "minor" stop on the Flushing Line; it had only two stairways and short station canopies at platform level. It was rebuilt into the much larger station in use today, and the ramp used during two World's Fairs still exists, but is only used during special events, such as the US Open (tennis). Express service to the World's Fair began on the Flushing Line on April 24, 1939. This was the first time the middle express track had been used for revenue service; prior to the fair, the express track had only been used for non-revenue moves and re-routes during construction.
Rolling stock on the line for World's Fairs
In 1938, an order of all-new World's Fair cars was placed with the St. Louis Car Company. These cars broke from IRT "tradition" in that they did not have vestibules at each car end. In addition, because the IRT was bankrupt at the time, the cars were built as single ended cars, with train controls for the motorman on one side and door controls for the conductor on the other. These cars spent their last days on the elevated IRT Third Avenue Line in The Bronx.
Not to be outdone, the BMT rebuilt 90 open gate cars into closed-end cars that became known as the Q Types (named because they operated in Queens). The Q Types were built as three car sets, and only the cars at the ends were fitted with traction motors and motorman controls. For the World's Fair, the equipment was repainted in the now famous blue and orange, the World's Fair colors. In 1949, nine years after the closing of the Fair, the BMT Q Types were moved to the elevated IRT Third Avenue Line in Manhattan using old IRT Composite car trucks, and ran only as expresses, because their weight was a bit too high for the older, local tracks. Therefore, the last BMT-designed car ran on the last IRT elevated in Manhattan. Like BMT Q-types replacing the older gate cars that rode on the line for the opening of the 1939 New York World's Fair, the procedure would be repeated again when, in 1964, the picture window R36 World's Fair cars replaced the older R15's for the 1964 New York World's Fair.
Service curtailments in the 1940s & 50s
In 1942, when IRT Second Avenue Line service ended, major overhauls for the Corona fleet were transferred to the Coney Island shop. In addition, free transfers to the IRT Third Avenue Line were offered at Grand Central from June 13, 1942 (when Second Avenue Line service ended, including the Queensboro Bridge connection) until May 12, 1955 (when Third Avenue Line service ended). In the fall of 1949, the joint BMT/IRT service arrangement ended. The Flushing Line became the responsibility of IRT. The Astoria Line had its platforms shaved back, and became BMT-only. Because of this, routes through the then eight-track Queensboro Plaza station were consolidated and the northern half of the structure was later torn down. Evidence of where the torn-down platforms were, as well as the trackways that approached this area, can still be seen in the ironwork at the station. The Flushing Line's extra-long platforms, which allow for 11-car operation, are also a remnant of the joint service period.
The R33 / R36 World's Fair cars served the Flushing Line exclusively from 1964 until 2002. Most cars have been scrapped and sunk in the Atlantic Ocean as artificial barrier and coral reefs. On November 3, 2003, the last Redbird train made its final scheduled trip on this line, making all stops between Times Square and Willets Point – Shea Stadium (now known as Mets – Willets Point). Replacing these cars on this line are the Bombardier built R62A series.
Future extension in Manhattan
The IRT Flushing Line is being extended westward and southward in Manhattan, with an expected completion date of 2013. There will be only one new station at 34th Street and Eleventh Avenue to serve Jacob Javits Convention Center. Funding is in place and construction began in late 2007.
Station service legend Stops all times Stops all times except late nights Stops late nights and weekends only Stops weekdays only Stops rush hours in the peak direction only Time period details Station Tracks Services Opened Transfers and notes Begins as a three track line Flushing – Main Street all 7 <7> January 21, 1928 Connection to LIRR at Flushing Main Street
originally Main Street
Mets – Willets Point all 7 <7> January 21, 1928 Connection to LIRR at Mets–Willets Point
formerly Willets Point–Shea Stadium
originally Willets Point Boulevard
connecting tracks to Corona Yard 111th Street local 7 January 21, 1928 103rd Street – Corona Plaza local 7 April 21, 1917 originally Alburtis Avenue Junction Boulevard all 7 <7> April 21, 1917 originally Junction Avenue 90th Street – Elmhurst Avenue local 7 April 21, 1917 originally Elmhurst Avenue 82nd Street – Jackson Heights local 7 April 21, 1917 originally 25th Street–Jackson Heights 74th Street – Broadway local 7 April 21, 1917 E F M R (IND Queens Boulevard Line at Jackson Heights – Roosevelt Avenue)
69th Street local 7 April 21, 1917 originally Fisk Avenue Woodside – 61st Street all 7 <7> April 21, 1917 originally Woodside
Connection to LIRR at Woodside
52nd Street local 7 April 21, 1917 originally Lincoln Avenue 46th Street – Bliss Street local 7 April 21, 1917 originally Bliss Street 40th Street – Lowery Street local 7 April 21, 1917 originally Lowery Street 33rd Street – Rawson Street local 7 April 21, 1917 originally Rawson Street Center Express track ends connecting tracks to BMT Astoria Line (No regular service) Queensboro Plaza all 7 <7> November 5, 1916 N Q (BMT Astoria Line) Court Square all 7 <7> November 5, 1916 G (IND Crosstown Line)
E M (IND Queens Boulevard Line)
Hunters Point Avenue all 7 <7> February 15, 1916 originally 49th Avenue
Connection to LIRR at Hunterspoint Avenue
Vernon Boulevard – Jackson Avenue all 7 <7> June 22, 1915 Connection to LIRR at Long Island City Grand Central all 7 <7> June 22, 1915 4 5 6 <6> (IRT Lexington Avenue Line)
S (IRT 42nd Street Shuttle)
Connection to Metro-North Railroad at Grand Central Terminal
Fifth Avenue – Bryant Park all 7 <7> March 22, 1926 B D F M (IND Sixth Avenue Line at 42nd Street – Bryant Park) Times Square all 7 <7> March 14, 1927 N Q R (BMT Broadway Line)
1 2 3 (IRT Broadway – Seventh Avenue Line)
A C E (IND Eighth Avenue Line at 42nd Street – Port Authority Bus Terminal)
S (IRT 42nd Street Shuttle)
Port Authority Bus Terminal
10th Avenue future station (current plans are to optionally build a shell at 10th Ave to be finished later) 34th Street under construction
- NYCsubway.org - IRT Corona/Flushing Line (text used with permission)
- Corona Yard-unofficial page dedicated to the 7 Train
- Barry Popik on origin of "Orient Express" nickname
- BMT and IRT Joint Operation on the Flushing Line
- ^ a b c "Queensboro Tunnel Officially Opened". The New York Times: p. 22. June 23, 1915. http://query.nytimes.com/gst/abstract.html?res=980DE4DC1038E633A25750C2A9609C946496D6CF. Retrieved 2011-10-02.
- ^ a b "Subway Extension Open". The New York Times: p. 22. February 16, 1916. http://query.nytimes.com/gst/abstract.html?res=9505E3DD1F38E633A25755C1A9649C946796D6CF. Retrieved 2011-10-02.
- ^ a b c "New Subway Link". The New York Times: p. XX4. November 5, 1916. http://query.nytimes.com/gst/abstract.html?res=9D05E5D81439E233A25756C0A9679D946796D6CF. Retrieved 2011-10-02.
- ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l "Transit Service on Corona Extension of Dual Subway System Opened to the Public". The New York Times: p. RE1. April 22, 1917. http://query.nytimes.com/gst/abstract.html?res=9804E0D9153AE433A25751C2A9629C946696D6CF. Retrieved 2011-10-02.
- ^ "Additional Subway Service to Borough of Queens". The New York Times: p. RE1. April 8, 1923.
- ^ "Corona Subway Extended". The New York Times: p. 26. May 8, 1927. http://select.nytimes.com/gst/abstract.html?res=F20F13F8395B157A93CAA9178ED85F438285F9. Retrieved 2011-10-02.
- ^ "Flushing to Celebrate". The New York Times: p. 8. May 13, 1927. http://select.nytimes.com/gst/abstract.html?res=F40911FE345414728DDDAA0994DD405B878EF1D3. Retrieved 2011-10-02.
- ^ "Dual Queens Celebration". The New York Times: p. 3. May 15, 1927. http://select.nytimes.com/gst/abstract.html?res=F30D10F6395B157A93C7A8178ED85F438285F9. Retrieved 2011-10-02.
- ^ "Flushing Rejoices as Subway Opens". The New York Times: p. 28. January 22, 1928. http://select.nytimes.com/gst/abstract.html?res=FB0711FC3F5C177A93C0AB178AD85F4C8285F9. Retrieved 2011-10-02.
- ^ a b "Fifth Av. Station of Subway Opened". The New York Times: p. 29. March 23, 1926. http://select.nytimes.com/gst/abstract.html?res=FA0A15F93B591B7A93C1AB1788D85F428285F9. Retrieved 2011-10-02.
- ^ a b "New Queens Subway Opened to Times Sq.". The New York Times: p. 1. March 15, 1927. http://select.nytimes.com/gst/abstract.html?res=FA0A14F73E5B157A93C7A81788D85F438285F9. Retrieved 2011-10-02.
- ^ "Fast Subway Service to Fair Is Opened". The New York Times: p. 1. April 25, 1939. http://select.nytimes.com/gst/abstract.html?res=F10712FC3A58127A93C7AB178FD85F4D8385F9. Retrieved 2011-10-02.
- ^ Luo, Michael (November 4, 2003). "Let Go, Straphangers. The Ride Is Over.". The New York Times. http://www.nytimes.com/2003/11/04/nyregion/let-go-straphangers-the-ride-is-over.html. Retrieved 2011-10-02.
- ^ Schuerman, Matthew (June 22, 2009). "Quick Progress Digging Number 7 Extension Line". WNYC. http://www.wnyc.org/news/articles/134949. Retrieved 2011-10-02.
- ^ a b c "Flushing Line Opens Jan. 21". The New York Times: p. 12. January 12, 1928. http://select.nytimes.com/gst/abstract.html?res=F70C15F73C5C177A93C0A8178AD85F4C8285F9. Retrieved 2011-10-02.
- "Flushing Extension of Corona Subway Ready to Open". The New York Times: p. 189. January 8, 1928. http://select.nytimes.com/gst/abstract.html?res=F60B14F63C5C177A93CAA9178AD85F4C8285F9. Retrieved 2011-10-02.
New York City Subway lines A
DivisionBMTManhattan/QueensEastern divisionSouthern divisionFormerManhattan/BronxBrooklyn/QueensFutureSecond AvenueFormer
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