photo: Beth Goffe
It’s well-known that the appearance of old street or subway signs on Forgotten New York is tantamount to those sign’s death knell and that by featuring them here, I am dooming them to a premature death.
That may be the case.
I feel it’s important to show them — their eventual replacement is 100-percent assured because the Department of Transportation swats these signs like bugs. Their only concern is that signs are standard and all other impulses are disregarded. The only chance this sign, on West 97th and Central Park West, facing the sidewalk has is if it’s graciously donated to the NYC Transit Museum.
So, I’m just going to keep on showing them while they’re still in situ!
I think this one is from the 1950s, after unification (1940) but before the BMT & IND lost their separate identities in 1967.
By the way, this sign is from the early 1930s, before the 6th Avenue line opened in 1937. Before then the IND was also known as the 8th Avenue line. Thank you for sharing this rare bird.
The city could make a mint if they’d let the public buy the old signs and hardware.
I hope the Transportation Department isn’t using Forgotten New York to hunt down these signs!
The sign in the photo is not really an IND classic, unlike the previous one on this page at the West 4th Street Station. The stairway enclosure and the signage is pure 1950’s/60’s pre-MTA Transit Authority style, which was used when entrances were added or replaced during those years. My guess is that this entrance was added to the 96th Street/Central Park West IND station around 1960, when the adjacent Park West Village apartments were built. Notice the words “NYC Transit System” and the “IND” surrounding the word subway. Some IRT and BMT stations received similar treatments, with the appropriate division moniker (IND BMT or IRT) surrounding the word subway.
It’s not shown in the photo, but these enclosures also had a vertical fluorescent bulb at one side of the top of the stairway, with the word “SUBWAY” spelled out vetically as well.
It;s in the IND font, whose name I have never learned
The “Wireless Service Available” sign on the wall helps to date just how long this old sign has remained in place. I’m guessing you either didn’t notice it or think of it, or you’d have waited to get a clear view of it in your photo, instead of using this shot with the bald guy’s head in front of it.
Sadly the West 4th Street gone has long been removed, too. I pass this sign a lot, and it’s always been a nice little secret when I get on that train. I have to find my photo, but when the West 4th Street station sign was taken out it revealed the original, temporary 1930s wooden sign underneath which simply read “INDEPENDENT SYSTEM.” That was up for about five days until the modern Helvetica “Subway” was installed.
This sign has been stolen. It was taken some time after July 12th and before July 22nd. The removal was not performed by the MTA, judging by the heavy metal backing and bolts left on the ground–not to mention the lack of any replacement sign. Another loss for city history.