The South Ferry station at the tip of Manhattan is a very complex operation that now comprises no less than four separate platforms that serve, or served, the IRT 7th Avenue Line (#1) and the IRT Lexington Avenue line (#4, 5). There are inner and outer loops that direct trains to each line; platforms that served a shuttle from the Lexington to the 7th Avenue, as well as a station dedicated to the Lexington Avenue line, have both closed, as service ended from the Lex in 1977.
In addition, a new South Ferry station was built for the 7th Avenue Line that was on a straight stretch of track, allowing for “normal” train passage in and out instead of needing to use the loop. The old loop platform, opened in 1908, can only accommodate 5 cars of a 10-car unit; in addition, a mechanical sliding platform is needed so that there’s not too large of a gap, which it’s always safe to mind.
The new station was mostly pure white, with white walls and bland-ish artwork (some of it can be seen at the end of this FNY page from 2009). It was much more convenient for passengers and train crews alike. Unfortunately no provisions were made for a large rush of water (as with most NYC subway stations) and Hurricane Sandy, October 29, 2012, mostly trashed it and the multimillions spent on it. Thus, it was back to the drawing board for a replacement station, but there was also a reprieve for the 1908-vintage original “outer loop” station and its Beaux Arts artwork, desribed at length on this FNY page from 2008, when I assumed the old station would be closed forever.
The Sandy tragedy did allow the old bird to be spruced up. Somewhere along the way, the gorgeous terra cotta plaques depicting a sailboat had gotten drenched with brown paint (or gilt that had attained a brown patina), but as part of the old ferry loop station renovation, the plaques were returned to their original coloration, or close to it. The connection to the R train instituted for the new station in 2009 was retained.
In your webmaster’s humble opinion, the quirky, yet handsome Beaux Arts South ferry station should be retained as is and money going into yet another replacement station should be spent elsewhere, but I don’t make those decisions!