Quietly, the MTA is “celebrating” a century of the BMT 4th Avenue line in Brooklyn, which has served first #2 trains (the BMT was originally numbered), then RR trains, then R trains in most of its stations since June 22, 1915. All stations between DeKalb Avenue and 36th Street opened that date along with the 59th Street station, as well as stations along the Sea Beach line (N) which runs in an open cut through Bensonhurst and Gravesend. The 45th, 53rd, Bay Ridge Avenue, 77th Street and 86th Street stations opened January 15, 1916, while the 95th Street terminal opened on October 31, 1925. To my knowledge no mention of this Bay Ridge-Sunset Park-Park Slope transportation lifetime has been mentioned in the press.
That’s likely the case because the entire line didn’t open in 1915-1916; the line reached Canal Street over the Manhattan Bridge in September 1915 but the line was gradually extended up Broadway and in Brooklyn Heights from 1917-1920.
In November 2015 I did a tour of part of Dyker Heights and Leif Ericson Square, and the closest subway to where we were going was at 77th Street, so we met there. Again, it’s little chronicled but the southbound station is still the original from when it opened in 1916, though a lighted canopy identifying it as a BMT station that stretched above the entrance has long since been removed.
The entrance is massive and is reminiscent of the original IRT entrance and exit kiosks that opened in 1904; some lasted till the late 1960s.
The design motif is of particular interest. There wasn’t always a church at this corner, but the designer chose to include a cross on the design along with interlocking circles.
Modern-day detailing doesn’t include elements like this. Most of the other entrances along the 4th Avenue Line have mostly the familiar “jail bars” design, though indicator lights vary along the line — some are green globes, to indicate 24-hour service, while otehrs are the newer design with just a green “cap” on a white globe. At 45th Street, there are a pair of vertical illuminated “SUBWAY” signs.
The back end of the entrance is also interesting. One wonders if the “spikes” were placed to discourage lounging or laying on the slanted surface.
Found occasionally along the line is the two-color “M” that was part of the official MTA logo that debuted in 1968, until 1998, when the “Doppler” or “Pac-Man” MTA logo was designed. The green globes are cubes here. While the M and the cube are used for some stations along the line, the only freestanding stanchions are here at 77th Street.
When the 4th Avenue Line debuted in 1915 and 1916, station decorations and ID tablets were mosaics, along with virtually all BMT stations opened in this time period. In 1969, stations along the line got a modern redesign, mostly off-white tiles with monocolored tablets in four colors: tomato red, blue, yellow and gray. Broadway stations also received this redesign, but all Manhattan stations with the exception of Rector Street had their original mosaics uncovered and restored in the 1990s.
However, in exit alcoves some of the old mosaics were allowed to remain, like this “77” ID that was once found all over the platform.
A terra cotta NEWS STAND sign remains in the turnstile area, though the actual newsstand was eliminated decades ago. Photo: nycsubway.org
One more relic are the fluted tops and bottoms of the supporting columns, which are original 1915-1916 elements. Photo: nycsubway.org
Other photos: Joe DeMarco, Bob Mulero