125th STREET Broadway station, Manhattanville

by Kevin Walsh

The 125th Street station on the #1 Line, the 7th Avenue IRT, sits above Broadway and Martin Luther King, Jr. Boulevard (West 125th Street) It is the sole remaining elevated subway station in Manhattan south of Dyckman Street.

In the distance is the new Columbia University Jerome L. Greene Science Center. Designed by architect Renzo Piano (of the NY Times building) and constructed with the aid of a $250M grant by the Jerome L. Greene Foundation (a prominent Columbia U. graduate, philosopher and investor) to host the university‚Äôs neuroscience labs. The new building will serve as the home to over 800 scientists and researchers, including undergraduate students and world-renowned specialists, according to CU. It also includes a community education lab and wellness center.

Why is this station the sole elevated station in most of Manhattan? The answer lies in topography. In 1900, when the IRT subway was designed and began construction, engineers had to make a decision about what to do with Manhattan Valley: run the subway deep beneath it, or keep it level and bridge it over the gap? They chose the latter, and we have a beautiful arch bridge completed for the subway line in 1904. 

It’s not the only handsome elevated structure in the vicinity. A block away, a picturesque iron bridge, completed in 1900, carries Riverside Drive above Manhattan Valley.

Check out the ForgottenBook, take a look at the gift shop, and as always, “comment…as you see fit.”



Jeff B. May 6, 2018 - 10:15 pm

The Riverside Drive viaduct was completely razed and reconstructed around 1984 to 1986. I used to drive the Henry Hudson frequently than and watched it come down and go up.

Mitch45 May 7, 2018 - 11:24 am

A slight correction, or clarification. North of West 116th Street, Broadway dips so steeply that it actually dropped below the level of the IRT line at the 116th Street station, In order for the line to continue underground, there would have to be a steep downgrade, then a deep tunnel containing the station, and then a steep upgrade to return to the previous level of the line. Rather than have the subway line resemble a roller coaster, and to save costs, the line was elevated slightly north of 116th Street station and put on the viaduct.

Ty May 7, 2018 - 3:10 pm

And to add further the deepest station is nearby at 191st Street for the same reason. I think the trains can’t effectively do more than a 5% grade but maybe someone knows more about that.


Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.