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181st Street station (IND Eighth Avenue Line)

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 181 Street
 "A" train
MTA NYC logo.svg New York City Subway station (rapid transit)
181st Street southbound platform.jpg
Platform view looking south
Station statistics
AddressWest 181st Street & Fort Washington Avenue
New York, NY 10033
BoroughManhattan
LocaleWashington Heights, Hudson Heights
Coordinates40°51′06″N 73°56′17″W / 40.8517°N 73.9380°W / 40.8517; -73.9380Coordinates: 40°51′06″N 73°56′17″W / 40.8517°N 73.9380°W / 40.8517; -73.9380
DivisionB (IND)[1]
Line   IND Eighth Avenue Line
Services   A all times (all times)
TransitBus transport NYCT Bus: Bx3, Bx7, Bx11, Bx13, Bx35, Bx36, M4, M98, M100
Bus transport GWB Bus Station
StructureUnderground
Platforms2 side platforms
Tracks2
Other information
OpenedSeptember 10, 1932; 89 years ago (1932-09-10)[2]
Station code146[4]
AccessibleThe mezzanine is compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, but the platforms are not compliant ADA-accessible to mezzanine only; accessibility to platforms planned
Opposite-
direction
transfer
Yes
Former/other names181st Street–Fort Washington Avenue[3]
Other entrances/
exits
Fort Washington Avenue & 184th Street, Overlook Terrace & 184th Street, east side of Fort Washington Avenue
Traffic
20193,404,841[5]Increase 1.1%
Rank147 out of 424[5]
Station succession
Next north190th Street: A all times
Next south175th Street: A all times
Location
181st Street station (IND Eighth Avenue Line) is located in New York City Subway
181st Street station (IND Eighth Avenue Line)
181st Street station (IND Eighth Avenue Line) is located in New York City
181st Street station (IND Eighth Avenue Line)
181st Street station (IND Eighth Avenue Line) is located in New York
181st Street station (IND Eighth Avenue Line)
Track layout

Street map

Station service legend
Symbol Description
Stops all times Stops all times

181st Street Subway Station (IND)
MPSNew York City Subway System MPS
NRHP reference No.05000233[6]
Added to NRHPMarch 30, 2005

181st Street (also known as 181st Street–Fort Washington Avenue) is a station on the IND Eighth Avenue Line of the New York City Subway. It is located beneath Fort Washington Avenue in the Hudson Heights section of the Washington Heights neighborhood, between 181st and 184th Streets. The station is served by the A train at all times.

The 181st Street station opened in 1932 and has two tracks and two side platforms. It is located near Bennett Park, the highest natural point in Manhattan. The station has two exits to Fort Washington Avenue: one at 181st Street and another across from Bennett Park. A third entrance is at 184th Street and Overlook Terrace at the bottom of the hill; elevators connect the Bennett Park and Overlook Terrace entrances. The station is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

History[edit]

The New York City Board of Transportation began constructing a station at 181st Street in 1928 as part of a subway expansion. Squire J. Vickers, the chief architect of the Dual System, helped design the 181st Street station. He was responsible for most stations on the city-operated Independent Subway System (IND), and, being a painter, he did tile work for the station.[6]: 8 Robert Ridgway was hired as the chief engineer.[6]: 9

The station opened on September 10, 1932, as part of the IND's initial segment, the Eighth Avenue Line between Chambers Street and 207th Street.[2][7] Construction of the whole line cost $191.2 million. Service at this station was provided with express service from its onset. While the IRT Broadway–Seventh Avenue Line already provided service to Washington Heights, the new subway via Fort Washington Avenue made subway service more readily accessible.[8] Soon after the station opened, a bus route running over the George Washington Bridge began connecting this station to Fort Lee, New Jersey, for a fare of five cents.[9] The construction of the station spurred development in the surrounding area.[10] Its opening resulted in the development of residential apartment buildings around the station.[6]: 9

In December 1950, the New York City Board of Transportation issued a report concerning the construction of bomb shelters in the subway system in the midst of the Cold War. Five deep stations in Washington Heights, including the 181st Street station, were considered to be ideal for being used as bomb-proof shelters. The program was expected to cost $104 million. These shelters were expected to provide limited protection against conventional bombs, while providing protection against shock waves and air blast, as well as from the heat and radiation from an atomic bomb. To become suitable as shelters, the stations would require water-supply facilities, first-aid rooms, and additional bathrooms.[11] However, the program, which required federal funding, was never completed.[12]

The 181st Street station is mostly unchanged from its original design, although it has deteriorated over time, with some water damage.[6]: 9 On March 30, 2005, the 181st Street station was listed on the National Register of Historic Places.[6] The station was considered historically and architecturally significant as an early IND station that retained many of its original features.[6]: 8

Elevator modifications[edit]

From 1932 until 1957, pedestrians had to pay a fare to use the elevators. Though the elevators were intended for subway riders, local residents paid the subway fare to avoid climbing about eight stories up Fort Washington Hill. On September 5, 1957, the New York City Transit Authority (NYCTA) began allowing free public access to the elevators at the 181st and 190th Street stations. Bills were proposed in the New York State Legislature to put the elevators out of fare control, but these failed in committee. The NYCTA agreed once Joseph Zaretzki, the local State Senator, requested the change.[13]

During the 1970s, the NYCTA attempted to eliminate the elevator attendants at this station once the elevators become automatic, but was not able to do so as a state law was passed by the urging of local politicians that required them to stay on the job. For four months during 1999, the station was closed while repairs were made to the elevators.[14]

In July 2003, to reduce costs, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) announced that as part of its 2004 budget it would eliminate 22 elevator operator positions at this station and four others in Washington Heights, leaving one full-time operator per station.[15] The agency had intended removing all the attendants at these stops, but kept one in each station after many riders protested. The change took effect on January 20, 2004 and saved $1.2 million a year.[16] In November 2007, the MTA proposed savings cuts to help reduce the agency's deficit. As part of the plan, all elevator operators at 168th Street, along with those in four other stations in Washington Heights, would have been cut.[17] MTA employees had joined riders in worrying about an increase in crime as a result of the cuts after an elevator operator at 181st Street on the Broadway–Seventh Avenue Line helped save a stabbed passenger.[18] The move was intended to save $1.7 million a year. However, on December 7, 2007, the MTA announced that it would not remove the remaining elevator operators at these stations, due to pushback from elected officials and residents from the area.[19] In October 2018, the MTA once again proposed removing the elevator operators at the five stations, but this was reversed after dissent from the Transport Workers' Union.[20]

The elevator attendants serve as a way to reassure passengers as the elevators are the only entrance to the platforms, and passengers often wait for the elevators with an attendant.[21] The attendants at the five stations are primarily maintenance and cleaning workers who suffered injuries that made it hard for them to continue doing their original jobs. Riders of the 181st Street station have connected with the station's elevator attendants. For instance, in 2000, one elevator attendant put up images of popular jazz musicians while playing jazz music. The MTA ordered the posters removed, but 300 residents protested their removal. The elevator attendants have been known to attempt to cheer up commuters by playing music. A 2003 New York Times article stated that one operator played calypso music and merengue music from a portable CD player, and that "on occasion a dour-faced occupant will execute a brief tap or samba step on the way out".[15]

The station's elevators closed for replacement on August 3, 2019, and reopened almost exactly a year later on August 2, 2020.[22][23] The elevators that were replaced had been in service since the early 1930s, while the new elevators contained wider doors to allow for faster passenger entry and exit.[23] During the replacement, the station remained open via the exits to 181st Street and Overlook Terrace.[24][25]

As part of the MTA's 2020–2024 Capital Program, the 181st Street station was selected to receive elevators as part of a process to expand the New York City Subway system's accessibility.[26] As of February 2021, funding had been committed to accessibility renovations at the 181st Street station.[27]

Station layout[edit]

G Street level Exits/entrances
Bank of elevators in northern exit. Note: Platforms are not accessible
M Mezzanine Fare control, station agent, 181st Street escalators, tunnel to Overlook Terrace, Bennett Park elevators
P
Platform level
Side platform
Northbound "A" train toward 207th Street (190th Street)
Southbound "A" train toward Far Rockaway, Lefferts Boulevard or Rockaway Park (175th Street)
Side platform
Mosaic name tablet
Concourse level, facing south

This underground station has two tracks and two side platforms.[28] The station's platforms are 660 feet (200 m) long, a typical length of station platforms built by the Independent Subway System, and the vault containing the station is 50 feet (15 m) wide. The platform level contains a single barrel-vaulted ceiling.[6]: 3

The outer walls of the platform level consist of tiled alcoves, slightly recessed within concrete arches.[6]: 4 The station's tiles are colored maroon to help riders identify their station more easily, part of a color-coded tile system for the entire Independent Subway System.[8][29] Small maroon, black, and white mosaics with the number "181" are located within some of the alcoves. Within the alcoves that do not contain the "181" mosaic, there are black tiles with white numerals reading "181". The uptown platform has black-and-white signs for Yeshiva University.[6]: 4

A pedestrian concourse is located above the platforms along the station's entire length, supported from the cemented barrel-vaulted ceiling by steel "Y"-shaped struts. This concourse connects the two mezzanines at the north and south ends of the station and has four steel-and-concrete stairs to each platform.[6]: 4 There are metal railings along the concourse, from which the platforms can be seen.[30][31][32] The southern mezzanine has a station agent booth and storage rooms.[6]: 5

Entrances and exits[edit]

The 181st Street station has three entrances. Two of them are located at the top of a hill along Fort Washington Avenue: one between West 183rd and 185th Streets, across from Bennett Park, and the other at 181st Street. The third, at Overlook Avenue and 184th Street, is located at the bottom of a hill.[33] The entrances at the 181st Street station were designed so as to not be sidewalk obstructions like those constructed by the Interborough Rapid Transit Company and the Brooklyn–Manhattan Transit Corporation, the two other subway operators in the city. To accomplish this goal, the entrance at Overlook Terrace was placed on city-owned property near the station, and the entrance at Fort Washington Avenue between 183rd and 185th Streets was placed in a building.[34] The entrances at Fort Washington Avenue at 181st Street could not be erected within buildings.[34]

The entrance at Overlook Terrace leads to a 240-foot (73 m) passageway to the northern mezzanine.[6]: 5[34] This entrance is accessed from a single-story head house with a stepped roof and a facade of stone and ashlar. This headhouse contains two arches surrounded by interlacing diamond motifs; there are wooden doors within each arch. A backlit, Art Deco "Subway" sign is located above and in between the archways, atop a stone pedestal.[6]: 5

The entrance on Fort Washington Avenue between 183rd and 185th Streets leads to three elevators that descend 100 feet (30 m) to mezzanine level.[6]: 5[34] It is entered from a single-story stone vestibule with an arch surrounded by an interlacing diamond motif. There is a backlit Art Deco "Subway" sign above this arch, as well as four wooden doors recessed within the entrance vestibule. The vestibule leads to a slightly recessed masonry structure that rises two stories above the height of Fort Washington Avenue. The masonry structure forms the top of a seven-story mechanical structure with an emergency staircase, the three elevators, and the station's ventilation system. The station is currently not ADA accessible as there are no elevators leading from the fare control area to the platforms. However, unlike at 190th Street, patrons with wheelchairs are able to traverse from this entrance to the passageway out to Overlook Terrace, as the elevators provide direct access to both the mezzanine and street level.[6]: 6

The entrance at Fort Washington Avenue and 181st Street consists of four stairs, two to each southern corner of the intersection.[33][34] These stairs lead to a small landing immediately below the intersection, which in turn leads to the escalators that descend to the southern mezzanine.[6]: 5

Overlook Terrace entrance at West 184th Street
Fort Washington Avenue entrance between West 183rd and 185th Streets

Elevators[edit]

The highest natural point on Manhattan Island is in Bennett Park, adjacent to the station exit on Fort Washington Avenue between West 183rd and 185th Streets (along the axis of where West 184th Street would be located).[35] Because of the station's depth, long escalators lead to 181st Street at the south end, and elevators at the north end of the station carry passengers to the Bennett Park exit.[36] The elevators were formerly only open during the daytime and required the payment of a fare to use.[37] Since 1957, the elevators have not required the payment of a fare, so pedestrians traveling between Overlook Terrace and Fort Washington Avenue are allowed to use the elevators for free. There are also free elevators for pedestrians at 190th Street, the next station uptown,[13] as well as at 191st Street on the IRT Broadway–Seventh Avenue Line.[38]

The elevators at the 181st Street station are not ADA-accessible as of 2019. In December 2019, the MTA announced that this station would become ADA-accessible as part of the agency's 2020–2024 Capital Program.[39] There is a staircase available in case of an emergency.[6]: 5

Bus service[edit]

The station and the nearby George Washington Bridge Bus Station are served by ten local MTA Regional Bus Operations routes and various interstate bus routes.[40][41]

Route Operator North/West Terminal South/East Terminal via notes
Local Bus Routes
M4 New York City Bus The Cloisters or Fort Tryon Park Fifth Avenue/32nd Street, Koreatown Broadway and Fifth Avenue Bus only runs to the Cloisters when the museum is open; it only runs to Fort Tryon Park at all other times.
M5 New York City Bus Broadway at West 179th Street Broadway/31st Street, Garment District Riverside Drive, Fifth Avenue, and Broadway
M98 LTD New York City Bus Fort Tryon Park 68th Street/Lexington Avenue Harlem River Drive and Lexington Avenue Bus only runs during rush hours.
M100 New York City Bus West 220th Street/Broadway, Inwood East 125th Street/First Avenue, East Harlem Broadway and Amsterdam Avenues
Bx3 New York City Bus 238th Street station, Riverdale, Bronx West 179th Street east of Broadway University Avenue
Bx7 New York City Bus West 263rd Street/Riverdale Avenue, Riverdale, Bronx 168th Street station Broadway, Johnson Avenue, Henry Hudson Parkway
Bx11 New York City Bus West 179th Street west of Broadway Simpson Street station, Longwood, Bronx 170th Street
Bx13 New York City Bus West 179th Street west of Broadway Bronx Terminal Market (extended to Third Avenue/163rd Street, rush hours) Ogden Avenue and Yankee Stadium
Bx35 New York City Bus West 179th Street east of Broadway Simpson Street station, Longwood, Bronx 167th/169th Streets
Bx36 New York City Bus West 179th Street west of Broadway Olmstead Avenue/Seaward Avenue, Castle Hill, Bronx 174th/180th Streets
Other bus routes
George Washington Bridge Bus Station routes Various George Washington Bridge Bus Station

In popular culture[edit]

The upper mezzanine's elevator bank

The station is mentioned in the title song of the Broadway musical In the Heights by Lin-Manuel Miranda, where Usnavi says to take the A train "even farther than Harlem to Northern Manhattan and maintain, get off at 181st and take the escalator. I hope you're writing this down I'm gonna test ya later".[42]

On September 13, 1980, aspiring pianist Eric Kaminsky was robbed and stabbed to death in the station. His murder became the basis for his mother's book The Victim's Song.[43]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Glossary". Second Avenue Subway Supplemental Draft Environmental Impact Statement (SDEIS) (PDF). 1. Metropolitan Transportation Authority. March 4, 2003. pp. 1–2. Archived from the original (PDF) on February 26, 2021. Retrieved January 1, 2021.
  2. ^ a b "List of the 28 Stations on the New 8th Av. Line". The New York Times. September 10, 1932. p. 6. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved April 21, 2020.
  3. ^ "More Subway Escalators". The New York Times. May 12, 1939. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved August 2, 2017.
  4. ^ "Station Developers' Information". Metropolitan Transportation Authority. Retrieved June 13, 2017.
  5. ^ a b "Facts and Figures: Annual Subway Ridership 2014–2019". Metropolitan Transportation Authority. 2020. Retrieved May 26, 2020.
  6. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r "New York MPS 181st Street Subway Station (IND)". Records of the National Park Service, 1785 - 2006, Series: National Register of Historic Places and National Historic Landmarks Program Records, 2013 - 2017, Box: National Register of Historic Places and National Historic Landmarks Program Records: New York, ID: 75313903. National Archives.
  7. ^ Crowell, Paul (September 10, 1932). "Gay Midnight Crowd Rides First Trains In The New Subway: Throngs at Station an Hour Before Time, Rush Turnstiles When Chains are Dropped" (PDF). New York Times. Retrieved November 8, 2015.
  8. ^ a b Duffus, R. L. (September 9, 1932). "New Line First Unit In City-Wide System". The New York Times. p. 12. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved August 3, 2017.
  9. ^ "Bridge Commuters Pay 5-Cent Fare; Buses Will Carry Passengers From Fort Lee to 181st Street Subway Station. Five-Cent Fare Benefits". The New York Times. October 25, 1931. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved August 2, 2017.
  10. ^ "Operators Add to Holdings In Washington Heights Area". The New York Times. November 17, 1931. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved August 2, 2017.
  11. ^ Ronan, Thomas P. (December 29, 1950). "Subway Shelters to Cost $104,000,000 Proposed for City". The New York Times. p. 1. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved August 3, 2017.
  12. ^ O'Flaherty, Mary (January 5, 1957). "Stein's Plan For Subway Cash. Would Utilize Extensions For Shelters, Let U.S. Pay". New York Daily News. Retrieved July 12, 2019.
  13. ^ a b "2 IND Elevators Open To Free Use". The New York Times. September 6, 1957. p. 19. Retrieved July 30, 2016.
  14. ^ Barnes, Julian E. (January 16, 2000). "Neighborhood Report: New York Up Close; For Perennially Ailing Subway Elevators, the Doctor Will Call in April". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved August 2, 2017.
  15. ^ a b Waller, Nikki (November 23, 2003). "Why They Take the A Train (and the 1/9) - Neighborhood Report: Washington Heights". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Archived from the original on May 28, 2015. Retrieved August 3, 2017.
  16. ^ Piazza, Jo (December 7, 2003). "M.T.A. Urged Not to Cut Elevator Jobs At 5 Stations". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Archived from the original on April 17, 2019. Retrieved August 3, 2017.
  17. ^ Neuman, William (November 30, 2007). "M.T.A. Savings Proposal May Mean Service Cuts". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Archived from the original on December 11, 2008. Retrieved August 3, 2017.
  18. ^ Sangha, Soni (January 21, 2004). "Riders fear elevator cutbacks. Operators not standing by". New York Daily News. p. 87. Retrieved February 11, 2019.
  19. ^ "Changing Course, M.T.A. Will Keep Elevator Operators On". The New York Times. December 8, 2007. ISSN 0362-4331. Archived from the original on June 16, 2018. Retrieved August 3, 2017.
  20. ^ Krisel, Brendan (October 31, 2018). "Uptown Subway Stations Won't Lose Elevator Operators, Union Says". Washington Heights-Inwood, NY Patch. Archived from the original on November 1, 2018. Retrieved November 1, 2018.
  21. ^ Grynbaum, Michael M. (April 28, 2011). "The Subway's Elevator Operators, a Reassuring Amenity of Another Era". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Archived from the original on May 4, 2011. Retrieved August 3, 2017.
  22. ^ "Replacing the Elevators at 181 St A Station". mta.info. Metropolitan Transportation Authority. 2019. Archived from the original on June 19, 2020. Retrieved June 19, 2020.
  23. ^ a b "The Bulletin September 2020" (PDF). erausa.org. Electric Railroaders' Association. September 2020. Retrieved September 8, 2020.
  24. ^ "Five Subway Stations in Upper Manhattan to Receive New Elevators". www.mta.info. Metropolitan Transportation Authority. December 18, 2018. Retrieved December 18, 2018.
  25. ^ Abramov, Nora; Mocker, Greg (December 18, 2018). "5 subway stations will get replacement elevators". WPIX 11 New York. Retrieved December 19, 2018.
  26. ^ "MTA Announces 2020-24 Capital Program Projects Scheduled for Award in 2020" (Press release). Metropolitan Transportation Authority. February 27, 2020. Retrieved March 28, 2021.
  27. ^ "2021 Commitment & Completion Goals". MTA Construction and Development. February 18, 2021. p. 12. Retrieved March 28, 2021.
  28. ^ Dougherty, Peter (2006) [2002]. Tracks of the New York City Subway 2006 (3rd ed.). Dougherty. OCLC 49777633 – via Google Books.
  29. ^ Whitehorne, Wayne; Sklar, Bob. "www.nycsubway.org: IND Station Tile Colors". www.nycsubway.org. Retrieved August 3, 2017.
  30. ^ Cox, Jeremiah (November 23, 2005). "The staircases in the middle of the platforms lead up to the mezzanine above". subwaynut.com. Archived from the original on August 3, 2017. Retrieved August 2, 2017.
  31. ^ Cox, Jeremiah (April 2, 2007). "Floor view of the middle mezzanine". subwaynut.com. Archived from the original on August 3, 2017. Retrieved August 2, 2017.
  32. ^ Cox, Jeremiah (November 11, 2004). "Looking down the railing of the mezzanine". subwaynut.com. Archived from the original on August 3, 2017. Retrieved August 2, 2017.
  33. ^ a b "MTA Neighborhood Maps: Washington Heights" (PDF). Metropolitan Transportation Authority. 2015. Retrieved July 29, 2016.
  34. ^ a b c d e "Maps Subway Exits To Ease Congestion". The New York Times. August 24, 1930. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved August 2, 2017.
  35. ^ "Bennett Park Highest Natural Point in Manhattan". nycgovparks.org. Retrieved August 3, 2017.
  36. ^ Weiss, Bernard (October 29, 1932). "The 181st Street Escalator". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved August 2, 2017.
  37. ^ "Free Elevators In Subway Fought". The New York Times. August 7, 1939. p. 13. Retrieved July 29, 2016.
  38. ^ Kurtz, Josh (August 12, 1991). "Washington Heights Journal; A Subway Passageway Just for the Courageous". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved July 30, 2016.
  39. ^ "MTA Announces 20 Additional Subway Stations to Receive Accessibility Improvements Under Proposed 2020-2024 Capital Plan". Metropolitan Transportation Authority (Press release). New York City. December 19, 2019. Archived from the original on April 21, 2020. Retrieved December 24, 2019.
  40. ^ "Manhattan Bus Map" (PDF). Metropolitan Transportation Authority. July 2019. Retrieved December 1, 2020.
  41. ^ "Bronx Bus Map" (PDF). Metropolitan Transportation Authority. October 2018. Retrieved December 1, 2020.
  42. ^ "Lin-Manuel Miranda – In the Heights". Genius. November 1, 2013. Retrieved July 16, 2016.
  43. ^ Kaminsky, Alice. The Victim's Song. Buffalo: Prometheus Books, 1985. ISBN 0879752920.

External links[edit]