WHEN Interborough Rapid Transit (IRT) constructed the original NYC subway from City Hall to 145th Street and Broadway in 1904, creating the Original 28 Stations, some of the stations have been closed in the over 110 years since. One of these was Worth Street, located at Worth and Lafayette Streets. It was closed in 1962 when the Brooklyn Bridge station was extended north, making the two stations too close. NYC’s King of Lampposts, Bob Mulero, got this shot when the Transit Museum was still running carefully supervised tours on closed stations such as Worth, 18th and 91st Street; the latter two were closed when the 14th and 96th Street stations were also lengthened.
As subway historian Joe Brennan explains, the Original 28th stations themselves were quite short and had to be lengthened a number of times to accommodate longer trainsets, which have grown from 5 cars to 10 or, in the case of the Flushing Line, 11. That’s why you occasionally see “newer” tiling from the 1950s and 60s at stations’ back or front ends.
Bob’s photo shows one of the terra cotta shields that many of the Original 28 stations had, with the first letter of the station name, which in this case was flanked by two poppies. Other shields featured tulips. The Original 28 were designed by architects Heins and LaFarge and in some of the stations such as Bleecker or 28th, went all out with terra cotta station plaques; others, like Brooklyn Bridge,14th and 33rd, featured eagles with only 34th Street’s eagles in their original place today. This reflects the esthetic in 1904 which gradually became more and more streamlined as the decades rolled past. When you ride the subway, you are in a working museum.
Worth Street was named for Gen. William Jenkins Worth, famed for his participation in the Mexican War in the 1840s. The general is buried at his monument at the triangle formed by 5th Avenue, Broadway and West 25th Street, tied with the Amiable Child gravesite uptown as NYC’s smallest cemetery. Worth Street, an important east-west cross street, earned its own station on the original subway in 1904.
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