One of the great joys of the NYC subway system is that so much of its rich heritage is still on display for all to see. The preservation of its ancient terra-cotta platform signs is already well-documented. Here, we’ll take a look at the various ways the city marks subway stations at street level.
On Fort Washington Avenue near the Cloisters is this distinctive stencil-style subway sign that marks the 190th Street station on the IND (A) line.
The sign dates from the 1920s, when the 190th Street station was built. It shows definite Art Deco design traits.
The green bulb above the sign signifies that this entrance is always open. It’s a relatively recent development, having been placed there in the early 1980s.
Formerly, the sign was illuminated though I doubt that’s the case today.
Photo by Bob Mulero 1980
From our Forgotten Classics file, this Interborough Subway sign of similar design once graced Park Avenue just south of 42nd Street (that’s Grand Central Terminal in the background.) The 4, 5, 6 and 7 trains are all available here.
This sign did not survive the 1980s.
Somewhat similar in style, but with less panache, is this indicator which has probably marked the Queensboro Plaza station in Long Island City for many years. The station was built in 1917 but the sign isn’t quite that old.
With its iron and concrete base, it’s survived quite a few assaults over the years from out-of-control cars!
103rd St (formerly Alburtis Avenue station) on the #7 Flushing line has kept a few of its tiny painted lamppost-mounted station signs.
At this point, many of the city’s subway lines converge…the IND (B,D), IRT (2,3,4,5) and BMT (M,N, R).
The Stillwell Avenue station, terminal of the B, D, F and N trains in Coney Island, boasted the same facade in 1998 it had when constructed way back in 1920. That means it has some very old BMT signs on its exterior (see below)
12/2004: These signs are regaining their place on the Stillwell marquee as it is being renovated.
Central Park has a number of quaint entries in the fancy illuminated subway sign sweepstakes.
Above, Central Park South across from the Plaza Hotel
Central Park West at the Museum of Natural History
The Montague and Clinton Street entrance on the Court St. station on the 4th Avenue line (R,M, N) retains its early-BMT era painted glass station indicators.