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Proposed expansion of the New York City Subway

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Title: Proposed expansion of the New York City Subway  
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Subject: New York City Subway, New York City Subway map, History of the New York City Subway, IRT Sixth Avenue Line, IRT Second Avenue Line
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia

Proposed expansion of the New York City Subway

1929 plan
1939 plan
Current services

Since the opening of the original New York City Subway line in 1904, and throughout the subway's history, various official and planning agencies have proposed numerous extensions to the subway system. One of the better known proposals was the "Second System", which was part of a plan by the Independent Subway to construct new subway lines in addition and take over existing subway lines and railroad right-of-ways. Though most of the routes proposed over the decades have never seen construction, discussion remains strong to develop some of these lines to alleviate existing subway capacity constraints and overcrowding, the most notable of these plans being the Second Avenue Subway.


  • Triborough System 1
  • Mayor Hylan's plan 2
  • Subways to New Jersey 3
  • 1929–1939 plans 4
    • Details 4.1
      • Planned services 4.1.1
    • Other plans during the same time 4.2
      • Revised 1932 plan 4.2.1
      • Smaller plans 4.2.2
    • Provisions for new lines 4.3
      • Shells built 4.3.1
  • 1940–1999 plans 5
    • 1938–40 5.1
    • 1940s: Smaller plans 5.2
    • 1951 5.3
    • 1954 5.4
    • 1963 5.5
    • 1968 5.6
      • Proposed lines 5.6.1
      • Completed lines 5.6.2
    • 1986 5.7
    • 1990 5.8
    • 1998–99 5.9
  • 21st-century expansion 6
    • Current or completed plans 6.1
      • South Ferry 6.1.1
      • 7 Subway Extension 6.1.2
      • Second Avenue Subway 6.1.3
    • Proposals 6.2
      • Triboro RX 6.2.1
      • Rockaway Line 6.2.2
      • LaGuardia Airport extension 6.2.3
      • Utica Avenue Line 6.2.4
  • References 7
  • External links 8

Triborough System

1910 plan for IRT expansion

This was a proclamation for new subway lines to the Bronx and Brooklyn. These lines are the IRT Lexington Avenue Line, IRT Pelham Line and IRT Jerome Avenue Line. The Manhattan Bridge line described below later became the BMT Fourth Avenue Line, the BMT West End Line, the BMT Sea Beach Line, and the Nassau Street loops.[1][2]

The route of the new subway … comprises a main trunk north and south through Manhattan Borough on Lexington Avenue and Irving Place from the Harlem River to Tenth St. and on Broadway, Vesey and Church Sts. from Tenth St. to the Battery; two branches in Bronx Borough, one northeast via 138th St. Southern Boulevard and Westchester Ave. to Pelham Bay Park. the other northerly via River Ave. and Jerome Ave.. to Woodlawn Road, connecting with the Manhattan trunk by a tunnel under the Harlem River; a Manhattan-Brooklyn line extending from the North River via Canal Street across the East River on the Manhattan Bridge to connect with the Fourth Avenue subway in Brooklyn now being built, which thus becomes an integral part of the larger system; two branches southerly from the Fourth Ave. line extending south to Fort Hamilton and southeast to Coney Island; and a loop feeder line in Brooklyn through Lafayette Ave. and Broadway, connecting with the Fourth Ave. line at one end. and at the other crossing the Williamsburg Bridge and entering the Centre Street Loop subway in Manhattan which is thus also incorporated in the system.

This was part of the Dual Contracts, signed on March 19, 1913 and also known as the Dual Subway System. These were contracts for the construction and/or rehabilitation and operation of rapid transit lines in the City of New York. The contracts were "dual", in that they were signed between the City and the IRT and BMT.[3]

Mayor Hylan's plan

1920 plan for expansion

On August 28, 1922, Mayor John Francis Hylan revealed his own plans for the subway system, which was relatively small at the time. His plan included taking over nearly 100 miles of existing lines and building over 100 miles of new lines. Construction of all these new lines would be completed by December 31, 1925, and passengers would be able to ride between the ends of New York City on one fare. The lines were designed to compete with the IRT and BMT.[4][5]

Hylan's plan contained the following lines:[6]

  • A West Side trunk line in Manhattan between 14th Street and the city limits at Yonkers. The line would be 4 tracks between 14th St. and 162nd Street, 3 tracks to Dyckman Street, and 2 tracks to the terminal. There would be a two-track spur from 162nd St. to 190th St. via Amsterdam Avenue. From 14th Street, the line would split; two tracks would connect to the BMT Canarsie Line and two tracks would continue south to a loop at Battery Park and an East River tunnel to Atlantic Avenue and Hicks Street, Brooklyn. Supposedly, there was also a plan of a line to Red Hook.
  • A trunk line, 4 tracks, on First Avenue from the Harlem River to 10th Street. From 10th Street, the line would split. Two tracks would run via Third Avenue and the Bowery to a new Lafayette Avenue subway in Brooklyn. The other two would run to a loop near City Hall. From the Harlem River, the line would run to 161st Street, and split into two 3-track routes: one to Fordham Road & Southern Blvd and the other to Webster Ave. & Fordham Road, where it would join the current IRT White Plains Road line and continue to 241st Street. Since this portion of the IRT El was already built to BMT clearances, and Hylan's system would consider using BMT clearances as well, all that would have to be done along this section is shave back the platforms.
  • A line from 125th Street (near today's Henry Hudson Parkway) crosstown, to and across the East River, to Astoria, Queens, likely connecting to the BMT Astoria Line.
  • A new subway line, with between two and four tracks at various areas, from approximately the Hunters Point Avenue station on today's IRT Flushing Line in Queens, heading in a southeasterly direction to Lafayette Avenue, Brooklyn. At Lafayette Avenue, the line would split. Two tracks would turn into a four-track line along Lafayette Avenue. The other two tracks would run to Flatbush and Franklin Avenues.
  • A 4-track subway line from Brooklyn's Borough Hall via the Lafayette Avenue subway to Bedford Avenue. From there it was three tracks to Broadway to Cypress Hills, Brooklyn where the line would continue on the present-day BMT Jamaica Line. (The line would have ended at 168th Street, where the BMT Jamaica Line once ended.) The subway would have run directly under the line along Broadway giving it direct competition for passengers, and (in Hylan's opinion) draining revenues from the BMT. Two tracks of the Lafayette Avenue subway would connect with the proposed First Avenue line.
  • A new branch off the IRT Eastern Parkway Line in Brooklyn onto Utica Avenue, running under Utica to Flatlands Avenue.[7]:120
  • A 4-track subway under Flatbush Avenue in Brooklyn to Nostrand Avenue, to Emmons Avenue in Sheepshead Bay, turning west onto Emmons Avenue to Surf Avenue in Coney Island. A branch of this line would head out to Floyd Bennett Field under Flatbush Avenue.
  • Extension of the BMT Canarsie Line to the BMT Jamaica Line somewhere beyond 121st Street in Queens.
  • A new line running from Prospect Avenue via Fort Hamilton Parkway, to 10th Avenue, terminating at 90th Street. BMT Culver Line trains would use this line.
  • Extension of the BMT Fourth Avenue Line in Brooklyn, south to Bay Ridge – 95th Street.
  • Extension of the BMT Fourth Avenue Line east to the Fort Hamilton Parkway Line and the BMT West End Line.
  • A two-track line from the BMT Fourth Avenue Line at 67th Street to Staten Island via the Staten Island Tunnel.[7]:120-125
  • Extension of the IRT New Lots Line from New Lots Avenue to Lefferts Boulevard.
  • Extension of the IRT Flushing Line to Bell Boulevard in Bayside via Main Street, Kissena Boulevard, and Northern Boulevard.
  • A branch off the IRT Flushing Line to Jamaica from Roosevelt Avenue.

None of these lines were actually completed, except for the 95th Street extension on the Fourth Avenue Line.[6][8][9]

However, some of Hylan's planned lines were built to completion. Completed lines included:[6]

A report, "Proposed Subway Plan for Subway Relief and Expansion" by Major Philip Mathews, published on December 24, 1926, did not agree with the Board of Transportation's basic plan. He cited these reasons:[6]

  • There would be no benefit to Brooklyn riders at all; congestion in Brooklyn would not be addressed.
  • Crowding along the IRT Third Avenue Line, IRT Pelham Line and IRT White Plains Road Line in the Bronx would not be alleviated. The Independent's only line in the Bronx that made it to fruition, planned along the Grand Concourse, would only alleviate congestion on the IRT Jerome Avenue Line line, even though Hylan really wanted all of the IRT lines in the central Bronx to be torn down.
  • Passengers of the BMT Astoria Line and IRT Flushing Line would see little relief from crowding.

Instead, Mathews proposed these other lines:[6]

  • Connect the IND Eighth Avenue Line to the BMT Southern Division lines using a link from Wall or Fulton Streets to Chambers Street. Connections could be made with the south side of the Manhattan Bridge. (This was later to be the Chrystie Street Connection to the IND Sixth Avenue Line instead.)
  • Extend the BMT Canarsie Line to Eighth Avenue, which was done. This would relieve congestion at Union Square and allow north/south connections more easily.
  • Build a four-track Third Avenue subway (IRT clearances) from City Hall to a connection with the White Plains Road and Pelham Lines. In the other direction, the line would run from City Hall to Wall Street, then across the East River to the IRT Eastern Parkway Line near Franklin Avenue.
  • Have the IRT and BMT run joint service in Queens. (This was the Dual Contracts.)
  • Creation of a four-track Brooklyn-Queens crosstown line designed for extension into Staten Island and the Bronx.
  • Creation of a Queens subway line from Jamaica to 8th Avenue, Manhattan, facilitating transfers to the Brooklyn Crosstown line and to all north and south lines in Manhattan. This was the IND Queens Boulevard Line.

Subways to New Jersey

In 1926, a loop subway service was planned to be built to New Jersey. The rationale given was:[10]

Principal features of a comprehensive plan for passenger transportation between communities in the nine northern counties of New Jersey and the city of New York are outlined in a report submitted on Jan. 15 to the Legislature of the state by the North Jersey Transit Commission. A preliminary report presented about a year ago was abstracted in Electric Railway Journal for Feb. 7, 1925... The ultimate object of the program recommended is the creation of a new electric railway system comprising 82.6 miles of route, and the electrification of 399 route-miles of railroad now operated by steam. As the first step it is proposed to construct an interstate loop line 17.3 miles in length connecting with all of the north Jersey commuters' railroads and passing under the Hudson River into New York City by two tunnels, one uptown and one downtown. A new low-level subway through Manhattan would complete the loop. Construction costs of this preliminary project are estimated at $154,000,000, with $40,000,000 additional for equipment. The cost of power facilities is not included in this estimate.[10]

Because it would be utilized in both directions, the capacity of the proposed interstate loop line would be equivalent, it is said, to two 2-track lines or one 4-track line from New Jersey to New York City due to its having two crossings between New Jersey and New York. The loop was said to be able to carry 192,500 passengers per hour, or 4.62 million daily passengers, had it been built. The estimate was based on the operation of 35 trains per hour in each direction, and each train would be eleven cars long and would carry 100 passengers per car. It was to be built as a multi-phase project, wherein the IRT and BMT would work together to build that system to New Jersey. Extensions of the IRT Flushing Line and BMT Canarsie Line were both considered; the Canarsie Line was to be extended to Hoboken near the Palisades, while the Flushing Line was to be extended to Franklin Street between Boulevard and Bergenline Avenues in Union City. Ultimately, the cost was too great, and with the Great Depression, these ideas were quickly shot down.[10]

In 1963, three major commuter groups in New Jersey made expansion proposals. One of them would have involved an extension of the IRT Flushing Line under the Hudson River with a three-track tunnel and then connect with the New York, Susquehanna and Western Railroad.[11]

In 1986, the Regional Plan Association suggested extending the IRT Flushing Line to New Jersey's Meadowlands Sports Complex.[12]

On November 16, 2010, the plan was revisited yet again, as The New York Times reported that Mayor Michael Bloomberg's administration had been working on a plan to extend the 7 service across the Hudson River to Hoboken and continue to Secaucus Junction in New Jersey, where it would connect with most New Jersey Transit commuter lines. It would offer New Jersey commuters a direct route to Grand Central Terminal on the East Side of Manhattan and connections to most other New York City subway routes. This was being planned as an extension of the already-under construction 7 Subway Extension (see below).[13] In April 2012, citing budget considerations, the director of the MTA, Joe Lhota, said that it was doubtful the extension would be built in the foreseeable future, suggesting that the Gateway Project was a much more likely solution to congestion at Hudson River crossings.[14] However, a feasibility study commissioned by the city and released in April 2013 revived hope for the project, with Mayor Bloomberg saying "Extending the 7 train to Secaucus is a promising potential solution ... and is deserving of serious consideration."[15][16]

1929–1939 plans

IND Second System plan: route miles by borough
Borough Number of route miles
The Bronx

Before unification in 1940, the government of New York City made plans for expanding the subway system, under a plan referred to in contemporary newspaper articles as the IND Second System (due to the fact that most of the expansion was to include new IND lines, as opposed to BMT/IRT lines). The first one, conceived in 1929, was to be part of the city-operated Independent Subway System (IND). By 1939, with unification planned, all three systems were included. Very few of these far-reaching lines were built, though provisions were made for future expansion on lines that intersect the proposals. The core Manhattan lines of the expansion were the Second Avenue Line (with an extension into the Bronx) and the Worth Street Line (connecting to the Rockaways). The Rockaways were eventually served by the subway via a city takeover of the Long Island Rail Road's Rockaway Beach Branch. The Second Avenue Subway is under construction as of 2015 and is scheduled for passenger service in December 2016. It is notable that the majority of the proposed lines were to be built as elevated subways, likely a cost-cutting measure. The majority of the expansion was to occur in Queens, with the original proposal suggesting 52 miles of track be built in Queens alone.[17] As this grandiose expansion was not built, the subway system is only 34 of what it was planned to be.


The first plan was made on September 15, 1929 (before the IND even opened), and is detailed in the table below.[17] Cost is only for construction, and doesn't include land acquisition or other items.[18]

Line Streets From To Tracks Route miles Track miles Cost Notes
East Manhattan trunk line (Second Avenue Line) Water Street – New Bowery – Chrystie Street Pine Street Houston Street 2 from Pine Street to Chambers Street
4 to Houston Street
1.34 4.68 $11,300,000 subway
Second Avenue Houston Street Harlem River 4 to 61st Street
6 to 125th Street
4 to Harlem River
6.55 32.84 $87,600,000 subway
61st Street Line Sixth Avenue – 61st Street 52nd Street Second Avenue 2 1.1 2.2 $6,700,000 subway
(Rockaway Line) Worth Street – East Broadway – Grand Street Church Street East River 2 1.95 3.9 $13,300,000 subway
(Utica Avenue Line) Houston Street Essex Street East River 2 .93 1.86 $7,900,000 subway
Manhattan subtotal 11.87 45.48 $126,800,000
Bronx trunk line Alexander Avenue – Melrose Avenue – Boston Road Harlem River West Farms 4 3.97 15.88 $40,400,000 subway, with a portal between Vyse Avenue and 177th Street, then elevated into the existing IRT White Plains Road Line near 180th Street
White Plains Road Line Morris Park Avenue – Wilson Avenue Garfield Street Boston Road 2 3.5 7.9 $13,700,000 branching off the existing elevated IRT White Plains Road Line, and then going into subway
IRT Lafayette Avenue Line 163rd Street – Hunts Point – Lafayette Avenue – 177th Street Washington Avenue at Brook Avenue East Tremont Avenue 2 5.02 10.04 $12,900,000 subway to near Edgewater Road and Seneca Avenue, then elevated
Concourse Line Extension Burke Avenue – Boston Road Webster Avenue Baychester Avenue 2 2.15 4.3 $8,900,000 extension of the Concourse Line
White Plains Road Line   180th Street 241st Street   4.40 13.2 $2,100,000 owned by IRT, to be taken over ("recaptured") by IND
Bronx subtotal 19.04 51.32 $77,000,000
Broadway Branch Line (Rockaway Line) Broadway East River Havemeyer Street at South Fourth Street 2 3.16 13.5 $34,800,000 subway
Utica Avenue Line (and Rockaway Line from Havemeyer Street to Stuyvesant Avenue) Grand Street – South Fourth Street – Beaver Street East River Stuyvesant Avenue 2 to Driggs Avenue
4 to Union Avenue
8 to Bushwick Avenue
4 to Stuyvesant Avenue
Stuyvesant Avenue – Utica Avenue Broadway Flatbush Avenue 4 5.85 23.4 $39,300,000 subway to Avenue J, then elevated
Avenue S Utica Avenue Nostrand Avenue 2 1.1 2.2 $2,000,000 elevated
Nostrand Avenue Avenue S Voorhies Avenue 4 1.3 5.2 $3,200,000 elevated
Rockaway Line Myrtle Avenue Bushwick Avenue Palmetto Avenue 4 1.34 5.36 $14,300,000 subway
Fulton Street Line Liberty Avenue Fulton Street and Eastern Parkway Grant Avenue 4 1.84 7.36 $13,500,000 subway extending the Fulton Street Line to a portal at Liberty Avenue and Crescent Street, then elevated to connect to the BMT Liberty Avenue Line (now part of the Fulton Street Line) at Grant Avenue
Nostrand Avenue Extension   Flatbush Avenue Avenue S 2 2.25 4.5 $7,400,000 Extension of Nostrand Avenue Line as subway to Kings Highway, then elevated
Brooklyn subtotal 16.84 61.52 $114,500,000
Rockaway Line Myrtle Avenue – Central Avenue Palmetto Avenue 78th Street 4 2.1 8.4 $17,300,000 subway to Central Avenue near 73rd Place, then along the surface or elevated
98th Street – 99th Street – Hawtree Street 78th Street Hammels Station 4 to Howard Beach
2 to Hammels
9.2 26.2 $20,200,000 along the surface or elevated
Rockaway Beach Boulevard Beach 116th Street Mott Avenue 2 5.0 10.0 $7,400,000 along the surface or elevated
Newport Avenue Line
(Rockaway Line Extension)
Newport Avenue Beach 116th Street Beach 149th Street 2 1.6 3.2 $2,400,000 along the surface or elevated
Winfield Spur Garfield Avenue – 65th Place – Fresh Pond Road Broadway and 78th Street Central Avenue 2 3.34 6.68 $10,100,000 subway to 45th Avenue, then elevated to Fresh Pond Road, then subway
Brinckerhoff - Hollis Avenue Line
(Fulton Street Line Extension)
Liberty Avenue – 105th Avenue – Brinckerhoff Avenue – Hollis Avenue Lefferts Boulevard Springfield Boulevard 2 6.2 13.3 $10,700,000 elevated extension of the BMT Liberty Avenue Line (now part of the Fulton Street Line)
includes branch connection to BMT Jamaica Line (BMT) at 168th Street, via 180th Street and Jamaica Avenue
Van Wyck Boulevard Line 137th Street – Van Wyck Boulevard 87th Avenue Rockaway Boulevard 2 2.3 4.6 $6,600,000 subway to about 116th Avenue, then elevated
120th Avenue Line 120th Avenue – Springfield Boulevard Hawtree Street near North Conduit Boulevard Foch Boulevard 4 to Van Wyck Boulevard
2 to Foch Boulevard
5.23 13.92 $9,500,000 elevated
Bayside Line Roosevelt Avenue – First Street – Station Road – 38th Avenue Main Street 221st Street 3 to 147th Street
2 to 221st Street
3.6 7.78 $9,600,000 extends the BMT/IRT Flushing Line as a subway to 155th Street, then elevated
College Point and Whitestone Line 149th Street – 11th Avenue Roosevelt Avenue and 147th Street 11th Avenue and 122nd Street 2 3.4 6.8 $6,000,000 subway to 35th Avenue, then elevated
Long Island City-Horace Harding Boulevard Line Ditmars Avenue – Astoria Boulevard – 112th Street – Nassau Boulevard (Long Island Expressway) Second Avenue Cross Island Boulevard 2 to Astoria Boulevard
4 to Parsons Boulevard
2 to Cross Island Boulevard
8.1 26.71 $17,700,000 extends the BMT/IRT Astoria Line as an elevated, except that part of it may be depressed near Nassau Boulevard (Long Island Expressway)
Liberty Avenue Line   Grant Avenue Lefferts Boulevard 3 2.3 6.9 $1,600,000 owned by BMT, to be taken over ("recaptured") by IND
now part of the Fulton Street Line
Queens subtotal 52.37 136.49 $119,100,000
Total 100.12 294.81 $438,400,000

Planned services

Other plans during the same time

Revised 1932 plan

1932 plan: Route miles by borough
Borough Number of route miles
The Bronx

The IND expansion plan was revised in 1932. It differs from the 1929 plan, but there are 60.93 route miles, of which 12.49 are in Manhattan, 12.09 in the Bronx, 13.14 in Brooklyn, and 23.21 in Queens. It would include a new 34th Street crosstown line; a Second Avenue Subway line; a connection to the New York, Westchester and Boston Railway; and extensions of the IRT Nostrand Avenue Line, IRT Flushing Line, and BMT Astoria Line. It would have created a subway loop bounded by 2nd and 10th Avenues, and 34th and 125th Streets. However, this plan included no extensions to Whitestone, Queens, with the plan to instead serve more densely populated areas such as Astoria and the Roosevelt Avenue corridor.[19]

The plan would also take over the local tracks of the New York, Westchester and Boston Railway, and the Rockaway Beach Branch of the Long Island Rail Road.[19]

The table of route miles is as follows:[19]

Line Streets From To Route miles Notes
Second Avenue Line Water Street, Bowery, Chrystie Street, 2nd Avenue Water Street Alexander Avenue (Bronx) 8.64
34th Street Line 34th Street 2nd Avenue 10th Avenue 1.39
Worth Street, East Broadway and Grand Street Line Worth Street, East Broadway, and Grand Street Church Street Lewis Street 1.53
Houston Street Line Houston Street Essex Street East River 0.89
Manhattan subtotal 12.49
The Bronx
Alexander Avenue, Third Avenue, Boston Road, Melrose Road and East 172nd Street Line Alexander Avenue, Third Avenue, Boston Road, Melrose Road and East 172nd Street Harlem River East 180th Street and Morris Park Avenue 4.41
Morris Park Avenue Line Morris Park Avenue and Wilson Avenue Morris Park Avenue, East 180th Street Boston Road 3.35
143d Street–Garrison Avenue and Lafayette Avenue Line 143rd Street, Garrison Avenue, and Lafayette Avenue Brook Avenue Sound View Avenue 2.48
Burke Avenue–Boston Road Line Westchester Avenue, Brook Avenue Burke Avenue Baychester Avenue 2.48
Bronx subtotal 12.09
Stuyvesant Avenue–Utica Avenue Line Stuyvesant Avenue, Utica Avenue East River Sheepshead Bay 10.71
Fulton Street and Rockaway Boulevard Line Fulton Street Rockaway Avenue Borough line with Queens 2.43
Brooklyn subtotal 13.14
Rockaway Peninsula Line Rockaway Beach Branch Queens Boulevard The Rockaways (Rockaway Park and Far Rockaway) 14.92 Was actually built south of Liberty Avenue
Van Wyck Boulevard Line Van Wyck Boulevard Hillside Avenue Rockaway Boulevard 2.30
Hillside Avenue Line Hillside Avenue 178th Street Springfield Boulevard 2.48
Fulton Street and Rockaway Boulevard Line Rockaway Boulevard, 120th Avenue Borough line with Brooklyn 3.51 Eastern end is not known
Queens subtotal 23.21
Total 60.93

Smaller plans

Other plans, proposed during the same time as the IND Second System plans, included the following:

  • (1931 plan) A line splitting from the Second Avenue Line north of Houston Street, running southeast, merging with the Houston Street Line, and crossing the East River from Stanton Street towards the huge line under South Fourth Street.
  • (1931 plan) A line splitting from the Crosstown Line where it turns from Lafayette Avenue to Marcy Avenue, continuing under Lafayette Avenue and Stanhope Street to a junction with the line under Myrtle Avenue.
  • (1932 plan) A rapid transit shuttle operating from a terminal adjacent to the IRT Flushing Line and Whitestone Landing operating over the Long Island Rail Road's Whitestone Branch. The line would have been under private operation and would have had a 5 cent fare. [20]
  • (1939 plan) A line splitting from the South Brooklyn (Culver) Line at Westervelt Avenue around Hamilton Avenue, and the south branch ending at Grant Street around St. Pauls Street. It was presumably designed this way to provide future service to both the Main Line and North Shore Staten Island Railway lines.[21][22] The Staten Island Tunnel commenced construction in 1923 to serve the BMT Fourth Avenue Line, but was not completed.[23][24]
  • (1939 plan) An extension of the IRT Lenox Avenue Line to connect with the IRT Ninth Avenue Line.
  • (1940 plan, revised 1945) The IND Fulton Street Line would connect to what is now the IND Rockaway Line. A branch of the IND Fulton Street Line would run to a stub-end terminal at 105th Street. The line, east of Euclid Avenue, would be 4 tracks until Cross Bay Boulevard, where the two branches would split.[25]
  • (unknown date) A third 2-track tunnel under the East River, from the north side of the South Fourth Street/Union Avenue station (as built for six tracks) west to Delancey Street.
  • (unknown date) A line splitting from the Stuyvesant Avenue line, going southeast under Broadway.
  • (unknown date) A line under Flushing Avenue from the huge line under Beaver Street to Horace Harding Boulevard (Long Island Expressway).

An earlier plan in 1920 had an even more expansive plan, with several dozen subway lines going across all five boroughs.[26]

Provisions for new lines

At East Broadway on the IND Sixth Avenue Line (shown), part of a two-track station was built for the IND Worth Street Line under East Broadway, above the existing line. The indent for the never-built line is seen at the top of the picture, crossing the ceiling.
The Lexington Avenue – 63rd Street subway station has two island platforms split across two levels, with walls on their northern sides. This is the station's lower level.

The following provisions were made for connections and transfers to the new lines. It is of note that only four of these provisions were completed.

Alleged provisions include:

  • A skylight is rumored to exist at the northeast corner of Pitkin Avenue and 80th Street, supposedly for the cancelled IND Fulton Street Line extension.
  • A proposed subway station, located at Jamaica Avenue below 212th Street in Queens Village, is rumored to have skylights on the sidewalk along 212th Street and Jamaica Avenue.[6]
  • There is allegedly a subway tunnel under 73rd Avenue right to Alley Pond Park.[6]
  • Hillside Avenue widens out considerably at Springfield Boulevard in Queens Village, and gains a very wide median. As the 1929 plan has Springfield Boulevard and Rocky Hill Road (Braddock Avenue) as the eastern terminus of the IND Queens Boulevard Line,[27] the wide median may have been constructed in advance for the never-built subway station there.[6]
  • The side platforms of Grand Street station allegedly have walls that could easily be demolished.

Shells built

The South Fourth Street shell, if complete, was supposed to handle service as follows:

Another plan for the South Fourth Street shell was simpler (and was the plan that was partially completed):

The Utica Avenue station shell, if complete, would be in the standard local-express-express-local platform configuration.

The Jackson Heights – Roosevelt Avenue shell, a two-trackbed island-platformed station, would have been for local trains terminating at the station. Express trains would have stopped at the lower level (IND Queens Boulevard Line) platforms.

1940–1999 plans

After World War II and up until the late 1990s, the New York City Subway did not expand much. Only 28 stations opened in that time, compared to the remaining 393 stations, which opened from the 1880s to before World War II. As such, there have been many plans to expand the system during this time period.


The Staten Island Tunnel, started in 1912, was to be complete as per the 1940 plan.
The Culver Ramp was the only completed Brooklyn proposal put forth in 1940. It did not open until 1955.

In 1938 and 1940, the Board of Transportation put forth revised plans for additional lines.

The IND Concourse Line got funding to be extended beyond its current 205th Street terminal, but Bronx residents wanted to rehabilitate the New York, Westchester and Boston Railway right-of way. This became the IRT Dyre Avenue Line in December 1941, and the IND Concourse Line extension was not brought up again until 1968.[6]

1940s: Smaller plans

In 1942, Mayor Benjamin F. Barnes of Yonkers proposed that the Getty Square Branch of the Putnam Division of the New York Central be acquired for an extension of the IRT Subway from Van Cortlandt Park. This service would replace the service operated by the New York Central, which was slated to be discontinued by the New York Central.[32]

A rail link to LaGuardia Airport was proposed in 1943, when the city Board of Transportation proposed an extension of the New York City Subway's BMT Astoria Line (currently served by the N Q trains) from its terminus at Ditmars Boulevard.[33][34]


In 1951, a plan was put forth to the New York Board of Transportation.[35] Many things were planned:


The Board of Estimate accepted the following items into its 1954 budget from the Transit Authority:

  • The elimination of the DeKalb Avenue bottleneck on the BMT.[36]
  • The construction of the Nostrand Avenue exension to Avenue U. It would have cost $51,700,000.[36]
  • The extension of the IND Fulton Street Line to the BMT Liberty Avenue Elevated.[36]
  • A start on the Second Avenue Subway in Chrystie Street.[36]
  • Adding express tracks to the IND Sixth Avenue Line.[36]


In February 1963, the New York City Transit Authority issued a preliminary proposal for rapid transit expansion in the borough of Queens. It proposed the following routes:[37][38][39]

  • A line using the provisions north of 57th Street on the BMT Broadway Line to run under Central Park and then turning east under 76th Street and via a tunnel under the East River.[40][41] Once in Queens the line would run via 41st Avenue, with a connection to the IND Queens Boulevard Line Local tracks on Broadway and then would run on 41st Avenue until Northern Boulevard, which it runs upon until Flushing, when it turned south onto Kissena Boulevard, and then via the Long Island Expressway to Springfield Boulevard.[37][38][42]
  • A line branching off of the IND Fulton Street Line using the provisions for a line continuing via Pitkin Avenue, running via Pitkin Avenue and then turning onto Linden Boulevard and running via it to Springfield Boulevard.[37][38][43]
  • A reactivation of the Rockaway Beach Branch of the Long Island Rail Road for subway service. The line had been abandoned by the Long Island Rail Road on June 8, 1962.[37][38][44]
  • An extension of the IND Sixth Avenue Line from the terminal at 57th Street under the center of Central Park and then running via Fifth Avenue once out of the park at 110th Street, and would continue under the East River with a branch connecting to the IRT Pelham Line, which would have been modified in order to fit B Division subway cars, and a branch continuing up the Grand Concourse and then connecting to the IND Concourse Line.[40][41]

The Citizen's Budget Commission proposed a one track tunnel from Queens Plaza under the East River in the vicinity of 61st Street, and would connect to the IND Sixth Avenue Line at 59st Street. This would allow additional Queens Express service in the peak direction.

In May 1963, the City Planning Commission proposed the following in response to the NYCTA's proposal:[40]

  • An implementation of skip-stop service on the BMT Jamaica Line.[40]
  • An extension of a proposed Madison Avenue Line and the IND Sixth Avenue Line operating via 59th Street, with two branches.[40][41] One branch would have operated along Second Avenue with a branch connecting to the IRT Pelham Line, which would have had to be modified to fit B Division subway cars, and a branch connecting to the IND Concourse Line.[40][41] The other branch would have continued under the East River, and would have been connected to the Long Island Rail Road main line in the Sunnyside area.[40][41] Subway trains would have continued via the Port Washington Branch to Little Neck, and via the LIRR Main Line to Rego Park, where it would have turned via the former Rockaway Beach Branch and then would have turned onto the Lower Montauk Branch, and would have continued on the branch through Jamaica, where it would continue via the Atlantic Branch until Rosedale, staying within city limits.[40][41] The report claims that its proposed routes would serve up to twice as many people as the NYCTA's proposed routes.[40][41]
Rail Transit Services Present Population Served 1985 Projected Population Served
Number Percent Number Percent
Existing Line 900,000 50 985,000 49
Long Island Lines 305,000 17 360,000 18
Transit Authority Proposal 140,000 8 185,000 9
Total Queens Population 1, 810,000* 100 2,000,000 100
* Based on 1960 Census
  • A two-track Madison Avenue Line would have run from the proposed 59th tunnel via Madison Avenue and would have tied into the then-under utilized BMT Broadway Line in the vicinity of Madison Square.[40][41]
  • A connection between the BMT Broadway Line and Nassau Street Lines in Lower Manhattan in the vicinity of City Hall Park would have carried the Madison Avenue service through the financial district at Wall Street and Broad.[40][41] Another connection in Lower Manhattan would have been built connecting the IND Eighth Avenue Line and the BMT Broadway Line in the area of the former Hudson Terminal.[40][41] (Today's World Trade Center)
CPC Proposal TA Proposal
Route Miles Cost
$ Million
Route Miles Cost
$ Million
Queens Tunnel and Connections 2.3 $75 4.5 $139
Madison Avenue Line 1.9 86
Downtown Improvements 2.7 23
Queens Extension 25.0 114 20.7 375
Bronx Tunnel 6.6 179 6.0 163
Total 38.5 $477 31.2 $677


Proposed lines

The IND Concourse Line would have been extended to White Plains Road.

Similar plans were made by the New York City Transit Authority in 1968.[45][46] They included:

Completed lines

The Archer Avenue Lines are two lines, split among the BMT and IND, mostly running under Archer Avenue in the Jamaica neighborhood of Queens. Conceived as part of these 1968 expansion plans, they opened on December 11, 1988.[49] There are stub-end tunnels east of the line's northern terminus, Jamaica Center – Parsons/Archer, on both levels, which extend past the station for possible future extensions.

The 63rd Street Lines are two lines also split among the BMT and IND. The short BMT line connects the express tracks of the BMT Broadway Line from 57th Street – Seventh Avenue to Lexington Avenue – 63rd Street, where it stub-ends. The IND line runs from the IND Sixth Avenue Line at 57th Street in Manhattan east under 63rd Street and the East River through the 63rd Street Tunnel to the IND Queens Boulevard Line in Queens.[50] There are stub-end tunnels at the northern termini of each line; the BMT line has a stub end to the Second Avenue Subway,[51][52] while the IND line has a stub-end to the Queens super-express bypass.[53]


In 1986, the Regional Plan Association suggested extending the IRT Flushing Line across the Hudson River to the Meadowlands Sports Complex in East Rutherford, New Jersey.[12]

In 1986, the MTA issued a study on expanding transit options on the west side of Manhattan. It was proposed to use the West Side Rail Line viaduct (today's High Line), and various means of transportation were proposed, including monorail, passenger rail trains, or subway trains. It also proposed to extend the IRT Flushing or BMT Canarsie Lines (7 <7> and L, respectively).[54]


In 1990, the MTA proposed a rail line connecting LaGuardia Airport and John F. Kennedy International Airport. The line would have operated over the Grand Central Parkway and the Van Wyck Expressway. There would be stations at Shea Stadium and Jamaica. The system was proposed to cost $2 billion. The MTA estimated that the rail link would take 30 minutes from Kennedy to LaGuardia, and the frequency of service would initially be every 15 minutes. There would be a two-track alignment with one track for each direction, as well as at least two trains heading in each direction at all times. If the link were built, the average travel time from Manhattan to Kennedy would have be about 45 minutes using the Long Island Railroad, including transfers. To LaGuardia, the average travel time from the Grand Central station using the IRT Flushing Line would be 47 minutes.[55]


The AirTrain viaduct over Van Wyck Expressway would have been used by the subway under the "MetroLink" plan.

In 1998, an extension of the BMT Astoria Line to LaGuardia Airport was planned, but the plan was canceled in 2003 following community opposition.[56][57]

In 1999, the Regional Plan Association considered a full-length Second Avenue Subway from Broad Street to 125th Street, along with the LIRR East Side Access. It also planned the following extensions:[58]

  • a Co-op City extension of the Second Avenue Subway via the Amtrak right-of-way through the northeast Bronx
  • a Grand Central Terminal spur of the Second Avenue Subway
  • a super-express bypass from the Atlantic Terminal via the LIRR Atlantic Branch
  • an extension to JFK Airport via the Van Wyck Expressway
  • an extension to Laurelton via the LIRR Atlantic Branch
  • a branch off the Second Avenue Subway at 14th Street to Avenue C, to merge with the IND Sixth Avenue Line at Essex Street
  • a connection to the BMT Nassau Street Line near Delancey Street
  • a super-express bypass of the Queens Boulevard Line from east of 21st Street – Queensbridge to east of Forest Hills – 71st Avenue
  • a new interlocking at Prince Street to allow easy switching of trains between local and express tracks

The new set of extensions proposed by the RPA, dubbed "MetroLink", would make use of existing commuter rail infrastructure, so as to make it interoperable with the New York City Subway. Nine hundred and fifty "Rx" hybrid railcars would be ordered, with yard expansions and new yards being built. MetroLink, consisting of 31 new metro stations (not counting three recycled commuter rail stations) and 19 new route miles of track (not including existing commuter rail and then-under construction AirTrain JFK route miles) would have reduced the load on the IRT Lexington Avenue Line, the IRT Broadway – Seventh Avenue Line, and the IND Queens Boulevard Line. Two of these stations would be in Brooklyn, three in Queens, nine in the Bronx, and twenty in Manhattan. Five services would be run:[58]

  1. The Co-op City–Second Avenue–Broadway–Whitehall Street service
  2. The 125th Street–Second Avenue–Atlantic Terminal Bypass–Jamaica Center service
  3. The Grand Central–Second Avenue–Atlantic Terminal Bypass–JFK Airport service
  4. The Grand Central–Second Avenue–Fourth Avenue–West End Line to Coney Island service
  5. The Laurelton–Jamaica Center–Queens Bypass–Second Avenue–Lower East Side–Culver Express to Avenue X service

Stations would have been located at:

  • New Second Avenue Subway (15 stations):[58]
  • New Lower East Side Line (4 stations):[58]
    • First Avenue at 14th Street (transfer with L trains)
    • Avenue C at 8th Street and at Houston Street
    • East Broadway at Pitt Street
  • New Co-op City Line (9 stations):[58]
    • Co-op City North, Central, and South stations
    • Bronx Municipal Hospital Center
    • East Tremont Avenue at White Plains Road and at West Farms Square (transfer with 2 5 trains at the latter)
    • Boston Road at 169th Street
    • Third Avenue at 161st and 149th Street (transfer with 2 trains at the latter)
  • Atlantic Branch (5 stations):[58]

The AirTrain JFK, Atlantic Branch, Main Line ROW, and Northeast Corridor would all be "recycled" to accommodate subway service under this plan. The Nostrand Avenue and East New York LIRR stations would also have been closed under MetroLink.[58]

21st-century expansion

Since the 2000s, the New York City Subway has undergone its biggest expansion program since the late 1960s. There are least four stations under construction (five if the South Ferry station—built in 2009 but currently under reconstruction due to Hurricane Sandy—is counted) and up to 15 more subway stations definitively planned. Still, the 21st-century expansion plan pales in comparison to some of the subway system's other previous plans, as well as to the ambitious expansion of the subway in the early 20th century.

Current or completed plans

South Ferry

The new South Ferry station on the IRT Broadway – Seventh Avenue Line was opened in March 2009.

In mid-2005, construction commenced on the new South Ferry – Whitehall Street station on the IRT Broadway – Seventh Avenue Line, which is located underneath an older loop-platformed station of the same name in South Ferry, Manhattan. It is designed as an ADA-accessible, two-track terminal, which allows all ten cars of the train to platform and all doors to be opened, as opposed to only the first five cars in the old station.

Originally budgeted at $400 million, the new South Ferry station cost a total of $530 million, with most of the money being a grant from the Federal Transit Administration earmarked for World Trade Center reconstruction.[59] In January 2009, the opening was delayed because the tracks were too far from the edge of the platform. The problem was corrected and the station opened on March 16, 2009.[60] It was the first new subway station completed since 1989 when the IND 63rd Street Line stations opened.

On October 29, 2012, the South Ferry station suffered extensive flooding damage caused by Hurricane Sandy. Salt water filled the station from the track level all the way up to the station mezzanine, turning the station into a "large fish tank", as former MTA chairman Joseph Lhota described it. As a result, this section of the complex was closed until further notice.[61][62] The station is expected to reopen in August 2016 after renovations, signal room relocations, and extensive waterproofing work costing $600 million.[63] While the signal room itself could be delayed until 2019, the bid process for the contractor had started in early 2014 and was awarded on December 2014. Currently, the station is undergoing extensive reconstruction and restoration.[63]

7 Subway Extension

The 34th Street station on the IRT Flushing Line, which opened on September 13, 2015, was toured by then-Mayor Michael Bloomberg in 2013.

The 7 Subway Extension — Hudson Yards Rezoning and Development Program is the plan to extend the IRT Flushing Line, which carries the 7 local and <7> express services, further westward into Manhattan.[64] The extension stretches a total of 1 mile (1.6 km) from its current terminus at Times Square to a new western terminus at 34th Street and 11th Avenue.[64] However, the tunnels are actually 1.5 miles (2.4 km) long.[65] A second station at 10th Avenue – 41st Street was dropped from the plans in October 2007, but could be restored if funding can be found.[66] The extension's opening had been delayed to June 2014, with the rest of the 34th Street station to open at the end of 2015.[67][68] Michael Horodniceanu, chief of MTA Construction Company, told The New York Times that complications in the installation of the inclined elevator would likely cause a further delay of about three months, bringing the opening date to very late summer or early fall of 2014.[69] Further complications in February 2014 brought the projected date of the opening to November 2014,[70] then to February 2015,[71] then spring 2015,[72] and finally to summer 2015.[73] The station opened on September 13, 2015.[74]

Second Avenue Subway

72nd Street station cavern on the IND Second Avenue Line as of January 2012.

The Second Avenue Subway, having been repeatedly delayed and shaved back from a six-track combined local/express line to a two-track superexpress line since 1919 (with occasional construction between 1972 and 1976), was launched in 2007. A tunnelling contract was awarded to the consortium of Schiavone/Shea/Skanska (S3) by the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) on March 20, 2007.[75] This followed preliminary engineering and a final tunnel design completed by a joint venture between AECOM and Arup.[76][77] Parsons Brinckerhoff is the Construction Manager of the project. This contract, and the full funding grant agreement with the Federal Transit Administration, which was received in November 2007, is for Phase I of the project, a new line between the existing BMT 63rd Street Line and 96th Street and Second Avenue.[78] The total cost of the 8.5-mile (13.7 km) line is expected to top $17 billion.[79] As of 2013, Phase I, consisting of two miles (3.2 km) of tunnel and three stations, is under construction underneath Second Avenue in the borough of Manhattan, and is slated for completion in December 2016.[80]

A ceremonial ground-breaking for the Second Avenue Subway was held on April 12, 2007; the contractor prepared the initial construction site at 96th Street on April 23, 2007. A tunnel boring machine (TBM) was originally expected to arrive six to eight months after construction began, but the utility relocation and excavation required to create its "launch box" delayed its deployment until May 2010.[78] On May 14, 2010, MTA's contractors completed the TBM installation and turned it on.[81][82][83] On March 28, 2011, S3, having completed the west tunnel to 65th Street, began drilling for the east tunnel. The TBM completed its run to the 63rd Street station's bellmouth on September 22, 2011.[84]


Triboro RX

The Triboro RX, if built, would need to share a right-of-way with the Bay Ridge Branch.

A proposal for the LIRR Bay Ridge Branch would have the New York City Subway use the tracks to link Brooklyn, Queens, and the Bronx via the Hell Gate Bridge.[85] In 1996 the Regional Plan Association conducted a study to determine the feasibility of the rail link.[86] Based on Paris's RER commuter rail system, the Triboro RX proposal will create a loop around the city. It was first proposed by the Regional Plan Association in 1996, and has been denounced as disastrous by some.[87] The proposed line, discussion of which was revived in 2012, would connect to all non-shuttle subway services.[88] Obstacles for the proposal include the proposed Cross-Harbor Rail Tunnel, the lack of electrification on the line, and the single-tracking in some parts of the line. Additionally, there is debate on where the line's northern terminus would be: some project it to end at Hunts Point,[85] while others plan the line to end at Yankee Stadium.[88]

Rockaway Line

The LIRR Rockaway Beach Branch would need to be renovated in order to be reused.

Some plans call for the IND Rockaway Line to be extended along the right-of-way of the LIRR Rockaway Beach Branch, as the success of a new racino at Aqueduct Racetrack led to a proposal from Governor Andrew Cuomo to build a massive convention center in the vicinity. Talks of reactivating the line were publicly endorsed in February 2012 by Assemblymen Phillip Goldfeder and Michael G. Miller. Goldfeder commented “The commute for people here is only going to go from bad to worse. You can’t talk about a convention center without talking about transportation.” Goldfeder and Miller said they are not opposed to turning sections of the line into a park, but said people who live in Rockaway, Ozone Park and other areas have no quick or easy way to get into Manhattan.

The Genting Group, which operates the racino and has been asked to construct the convention center, are evaluating several plans to increase transportation access. Genting is committed to paying for part of the transportation improvements. Advocates of the Queensway, a proposed public park along the branch's route, are against resumption of rail service, stating that current bus service fills current transportation needs in the area.[89]

Congressmen Hakeem Jeffries and Gregory Meeks added their support for the project in March 2013. Both representatives will push to allocate federal transportation subsidies to study a plan for restored passenger service.[90]

LaGuardia Airport extension

The BMT Astoria Line extension to LaGuardia Airport is again being considered as part of LaGuardia's long-range expansion/renovation plan. Currently, no New York City Subway routes service the airport directly, but provisions for a subway connection are part of a 2014 long range rebuilding plan by the MTA.[91]

Utica Avenue Line

In April 2015, New York City mayor Bill de Blasio announced a new plan for building a subway line under Utica Avenue in Brooklyn. Previous plans, most recently the Program for Action, had provisions for such a line. It would branch off from the IRT Eastern Parkway Line (2 3 4 5 trains) at Crown Heights – Utica Avenue. The new line being proposed is part of de Blasio's "One New York" plan to improve transit, reduce waste and emissions, and fight poverty, among other things. If built, the line would go to Flatbush Avenue, near Kings Plaza. However, since the Metropolitan Transportation Authority had budget shortages as of April 2015, it is unclear how the line would be funded or built.[92][93]


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External links

  • – IND Second System
  • Abandoned Stations (A thorough treatment of the history of the abandoned subway stations)
    • IND Second System unfinished stations
  • JoeKorNer – IND Second System (including a plan for a line to Staten Island)
  • The Future NYC Subway (a thorough treatment of subway extensions that have been discussed, but never built)
  • Jim O'Grady. Lost Subways: Abandoned Stations & Unbuilt Lines
  • The Lost Subways of New York interactive map (WNYC)

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