by Kevin Walsh

I’ve written about this fascinating mosaic sign at the Hunters Point Avenue #7 train station before, but it bears repeating. In the good old days, there was more than one way to skin a cat when it came to getting to northern and eastern Queens on the Flushing Line. Until 1949, you could get to both Astoria and Corona using the Flushing Line, which bifurcated into two branches at Queensboro Plaza, with the IRT and BMT operating each line. Beginning in 1917, some trains went up the Astoria el over 31st Street to Ditmars Boulevard, while others took the present Flushing Line route over the Roosevelt Avenue el to its original terminal in Corona. The line was extended out to Main Street, Flushing by 1928.

When the Hunters Point Avenue station was built, though, Corona was the terminal and this sign reflects that fact. Until 1942, you could also catch a spur of Manhattan’s 2nd Avenue El over the Queensboro Bridge to Queensboro Plaza and change for either route. It truly was a golden age of transit, if you could stand no air conditioning in the summer.

In 1949, the situation as we know it today had arisen, with #7 Flushing Line trains going out to Flushing exclusively, and BMT trains, which have been the N, Q, R and W over the years as well as other letters, heading for Astoria.

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



Nunzio July 18, 2019 - 12:02 am

When I was a teen living in Astoria in the late 70’s, I always wondered why there was old enamel signage around the staircases of the 30th Ave. and Broadway Astoria el stations that said “IRT Lines to Manhattan…”. It wasn’t until 30 years later that I learned the Astoria line had indeed been IRT…as you demonstrate above!

Jerry July 18, 2019 - 6:12 am

I believe that should be “IRT and BMT” not “IND and BMT”.

ron s July 18, 2019 - 9:28 am

Interesting short article. as always. Small edit-“IRT and BMT operating each line”.

Andy July 18, 2019 - 11:15 am

The original joint service patterns of the subway-elevated services to Astoria and Corona-Flushing were unique, and never duplicated elsewhere in NYC.

The Dual Contracts of 1913 specified that two new lines would be built to service Northern Queens, the Corona and Astoria elevated routes. The two private operating companies – IRT and BRT – were both given authority to operate services on the two routes, resulting in a unique and somewhat unwieldy joint operating scheme. Both routes opened in 1917, in April and July respectively. Initially only IRT trains served both routes, with through service from both Grand Central (today’s #7 routing using the Steinway Tunnel) and from South Ferry (using the 2nd Ave. Elevated and Queensboro Bridge). In 1920 the BRT opened the 60th Street Tunnel, In 1923, the BMT (the BRT was reorganized and renamed that year) began operating its trains jointly with the IRT to and from Astoria and Corona (Flushing after 1928). Because the BMT’s subway cars were (and still are) ten feet wide, it had to use its older, IRT-sized, wooden elevated cars on its Astoria and Corona-Flushing services, with BMT passengers required to transfer to its subway trains at Queensboro Plaza. That station, as originally built, was an eight-track, four platform, two level structure divided between the IRT (south, current side), and BMT (north, since demolished side). It was a fascinating site that included many additional crossovers and ramps that have long since disappeared.

In 1940 NY City took over both the IRT and BMT. 2nd Ave. El trains stopped running in 1942, but the joint interdivisional operation continued until October 1949. The operation was streamlined and simplified using the south side tracks, with Flushing service on one side and Astoria service on the other, with a cross platform transfer between the two. The entire north side was abandoned and removed in the late 1950s.

Queensboro Plaza remains the only NYC station with a cross-platform transfer between the A (IRT) and B (BMT-IND) divisions. The Astoria trains today use tracks that were originally the Second Avenue El. After the latter’s 1942 closure, those tracks were dormant until 1949, when the current setup was begun.

Mitch45 July 24, 2019 - 12:01 pm

The “QVEENSBORO” Plaza station must have been something to see in its heyday before the 2nd Avenue el stopped running. You had trains coming into this one station from three different locations. The tracks and the routing would have been fun to watch.


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