by Kevin Walsh

The NYC subway has its share of “station houses” originally built to let people wait for trains, if they didn’t want to do so on the platforms, if they chose. The ones constructed at Bowling Green and 72nd Street in the initial phase of subway construction in the 19-aughts have gotten the most ink and attention from train buffs. They’re fine creations.

But I also like the ones added later on BMT lines built by Brooklyn Rapid Transit (later the Brooklyn-Manhattan Transit) in the initial rollout of the “Dual Contracts,” a large subway initiative in 1911 that saw the majority of IRT and BMT subway lines constructed over the following decade.

I am unsure that these simple, basic “Arts and Crafts” stationhouses were the work of Squire Vickers, who took over as chief subway station designer after Heins & Lafarge passed the baton in 1908 and continued on through the IND era of the 1930s, but no matter who designed them, I’m a big fan of the tiled interiors with subtle coloration differences. This one at Prospect Park, at Parkside and Ocean Avenues, even retains its original lamp sconces.

This station is on the Brighton line (B, Q) but you can also find one at 9th Avenue on the West End (D) and there are quite a number of them on Sea Beach line stations (N) between 8th Avenue and 86th Street.

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Andy April 7, 2021 - 9:00 am

The Brighton, West End, and Sea Beach lines were all originally 19th century surface steam railroads built when southern Brooklyn was semi-rural, so there was plenty of room for station buildings. When the BMT rebuilt these routes for subways under the Dual Contracts, station buildings were retained where the rights-of-way were in open cuts or on embankments, as opposed to elevated structures where the station building was normally placed just under the platform and above the street.

Two good examples of BMT outdoor station houses on the street surface are at Newkirk Avenue on the Brighton Line (B, Q trains), and at 62nd Street-New Utrecht Avenue, where the West End (D) crosses over the Sea Beach (N). Before the current routes were completed in 1915-16, both lines intersected at grade; the location was called Bath Junction.

Tal Barzilai April 10, 2021 - 6:35 pm

One thing that makes the Sea Beach Line interesting is that it seems to be one of the few subway lines if not the only one to still be open cut, which isn’t common for many other subway lines that are underground unless some might have been before being covered up.

Tom M April 11, 2021 - 8:11 pm

I think the Brighton is more unique as it’s partly as a subway, open cut, on an embankment and then as an elevated

Mitch Markovitz July 7, 2022 - 12:11 pm

I remember, across from Bond Bakery the Prospect Park station had a collection of rather small-ish entrance ways in what seemed to be a weedy lot. I’m always looking for photis f the pre-rebuilt entrance to Botanic Garden Eastern Parkway and the President Street entrance of the Franklin Shuttle.


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