by Kevin Walsh

In 1908 the IRT Subway was extended to Brooklyn for the first time, and Heins and LaFarge, the architects who constructed most of the subway’s early stations and stationhouses, erected this grand entrance house in the triangle formed by Atlantic, Flatbush and 4th Avenues, known as Times Plaza after the nearby offices of a long-disappeared newspaper.

This is how I remember this entrance as a kid in the 1960s and 1970s. As you can see, it had been completely surrounded by the awnings of a grungy hot dog stand, which was there for many years. All this while, the equally grandiose Long Island Rail Road terminal across the street at Flatbush Avenue and Hanson Place, which had been built in 1907, was subject to the same amount of disrepair and decline as Manhattan’s great Penn Station. The LIRR Brooklyn terminal continued to crumble, until large sections of it began to be closed off. Eventually, there was only an underground entrance from the subway, the building came down in 1988, and there was a hole on the ground for about 20 years. Finally, a new, modern, utterly bland and purely functionary terminal was built on the site.

The little subway entrance, though, persevered all these years. By the 1980s, the hot dog stand was gone, and it stood, denuded and mostly a graffiti-marred shell, for about 20 years. In the early 2000s, as part of the overall renovations of what is now called the Barclays Center station, it was restored as a glorified skylight. You can’t enter the station from here any more, but at least it’s still there.

Undoubtedly it will undergo future cycles of disrepair and revival.

Image from Brooklyn Historical Society.



JOEL NORMAN October 5, 2012 - 12:19 pm

My late father worked for the LIRR 45 yrs(hired on in 1923 after 7 yrs in the USNavy)and we lived in Rockaway beach,we took the LIRR to this station(Atlantic Av)via Jamaica in the summer to see baseball at Ebberts Field(took the BMT 2 stops)there was a great hot dog stand in the station….as well as a large meat packing business east of the LIRR station……

Kevin Walsh October 6, 2012 - 8:08 am

I well remember the meatpacking and slaughterhouses on Atlantic Avenue, which persisted into the 1970s. Shoppers at Atlantic Center, Nets fans and concertgoers at Barclays will never know they used to be there.

Bugg October 11, 2012 - 7:14 am

It was owned by Western Beef, a subsidiary of one Paul Castellano’s various businesses.

Graduated form Cathedral in 1982,and best I recall it was still there then. Going to see the Who at Braclays next month and sadly won’t be able to get a drink in the Terminal Bar. The area is barey recognizable. Very odd to think of waiting for the B45 in that spot looking at the butchers having a smoke in their blood-stained smocks.

Lady Feliz October 5, 2012 - 4:26 pm

Sometimes I forget how mind-numbingly horrible NYC was in the 1970s. Such a gorgeous piece of architecture left to wither and die. I do like the funky BMT subway sign though!

Jeff October 5, 2012 - 10:12 pm

I like the old “BMT Lines” subway entrance in front of the building.

Bill Mangahas October 6, 2012 - 9:13 am

My father used to work as a parcel post clerk at the Times Plaza post office on Atlantic Ave, so the name Times Plaza rings true for me. That was up until his retirement in the mid 1972.

I don’t know when the last time the IRT :”head house” was last used a a fare control. Does anyone know ?

I do remember the long disused stairs that used to descend from the head house to the Brooklyn bound IRT platform. It was covered by steel bars and didn’t look like it was used in decades.

Dion October 6, 2012 - 1:14 pm

Didn’t the hot dog stand give way to an all-night news-stand by the late 70s? My dad used to work overnights in the area and would bring me the NY Daily News from there before I went off to school.


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