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Subways That Open into Buildings

Over the last few weeks I’ve been in some classic New York buildings, including 30 Rockefeller Center, the Empire State Building and the Port Authority building. What I found interesting about these three buildings, beyond their massive size, was that subways open directly into their lobbies (Update 5/24/11: As one commenter notes, the Empire State Building doesn’t actually have a subway that opens into it — not sure where I came up with that). Curious, I emailed my friend and self-styled NYC transit expert Ian Westcott to see if he’d ever seen a full list. Reprinted with permission, here’s his reply:

Oh man, good question! There are a bunch of them I think. I don’t believe there is a list anywhere though.

A few off the top of my head:

  • Canal St A/C/E has an exit into the AT&T building
  • Jay St-Metrotech A/C/F/R has an exit into 370 Jay, which used to be an MTA building but is currently abandoned
  • 34th St N/Q/R/B/D/F/V exits into Manhattan Mall (there is a closed passageway underground, owned by the mall, that once connected to Penn Station)
  • South Ferry 1/Whitehall R exits into the Staten Island Ferry terminal
  • 28th St 6 exits into the New York Life building
  • Penn Station & Grand Central subways have numerous connecting exits, obvs
  • Wall St 4/5 exits into a couple buildings
  • There’s an exit into a Duane Reade at 42nd and 8th (A/C/E, PABT)
  • Astor Place (6) exits to Kmart
  • Clark St 2/3 – the elevators exit into a strip mall in the ground floor of the Hotel St. George. That’s one of my favorites actually, it’s really weird.

I think they’re more common in older buildings where developers saw subway access as a thing of value and not a source of riffraff. Nowadays if a building encompasses a subway exit it usually shunts it off to the sidewalk (see Union Sq, Broadway/Lafayette, etc). Also there are numerous cases of entrances that were bricked over by the property owner and are now flat walls or utility closets.

Up at 50th there’s even a library branch in the subway.

May 19, 2011


  • Elizabeth says:

    At 14th St, the A/C/E has an exit into the Port Authority Building

  • Matthew says:

    The downtown 6 at 23rd street has an entrance into the Met Life Building.

  • Erik says:

    On the E at 53rd and Lex there’s an exit directly into the lobby of a building on 3rd avenue and E53rd St

  • Abe says:

    Absolute favorite is the 81st exit directly into the museum of natural history.

    N/R used to go directly into the World Trade Center. Lived half a block from a station in BK used to go to work in the dead of winter with no coat…

    Pretty sure buildings get subsidies of some sort if they build entrances.

    Going back to HS here but I’m pretty sure the 86th St 1 stop has an exit in some building on 87th off Bway.

  • Aaron says:

    Interesting post!
    Did you know that all new subway stations (2nd Ave line) are required to be inside building space? Not that they need to exit INTO the building itself like you’re talking about here, but they are supposed to use building space, rather than sidewalk space.

  • Clay Parker Jones says:

    So far as I’m aware, the Clark St. 2/3 has a rare elevator-only entrance/exit. And they’re the huge murder-elevators. Needless to say, it’s a terrifying subway stop.

    That’s all.

  • Jordan says:

    Another addition to your list: the 49th Street NRQ stops inside the Barclays Capital building.

  • C. Darcy says:

    Borough Hall (2/3/4/5) exists into the sub-lobby of the Brooklyn Municipal Building – or it would if they didn’t seal the doors for “security reasons.” Now they use the sub-lobby as document storage, or, in other words, piling boxes in front of the doors.

  • Michael says:

    It’s obvious, but since no one’s mentioned it: The 47th-50th Rockefeller Center stop on the B/D/F/M is a mini-mall that opens into a ton of buildings around there.

  • C. Darcy says:

    Borough Hall (2/3/4/5) exists into the sub-lobby of the Brooklyn Municipal Building – or it would if they didn’t seal the doors for “security reasons.” Now they use the sub-lobby as document storage, or, in other words, piling boxes in front of the doors.

  • Michael says:

    Also: 81st Street on the B/C opens right into AMNH

  • Cynic says:

    It’s something we’ve (wisely) grown more skittish about with time. Subways that exit directly into building lobbies are the mass transit equivalent of internal parking garages – they whisk commuters directly from home to office, without circulating them through streets or sidewalks. There’s some degree of marginal convenience for the commuters in question, but quite a high social cost. Streetfront retail withers. After hours, fewer people walk on nearby streets.

    On the whole, we’re better off with entrances and exits that come off of genuinely public spaces.

  • Gari N Corp says:

    Depending on what manner of vandalism Bruce Ratner is inflicting on that intersection at any given moment, the Atlantic Avenue subway stop has an exit in the old Williamsburg Savings bank, though it doesn’t exit inside the building

  • RZ0 says:

    Don’t know about the 4/5/6 Wall Street stop. You might be thinking of the big Fulton Street stop [2/3/4/5/6/A/C/J/Z], which opens up to 110 William, among others.
    Before 9/11, One Liberty Plaza went directly to the E, the 1 and the R lines, but I don’t know whether that has reopened.

  • Wes says:

    The 2/3 at Wall Street opens into both 1 Chase Manhattan Plaza and 60 Wall Street.

  • nick says:

    American Museum of Natural History has a below ground entrance attached to the subway (81st B/C).

  • Peter says:

    There’s a Bloomies entrance at 59th, right?

  • Benjamin Kabak says:

    The Atlantic Ave. subway station at various points exits directly into the Atlantic Terminal Market. The Penn Station complex exits into Madison Square Garden, although that’s through Penn Station itself. Rockefeller Center as someone above noted exits into various buildings in Midtown.

  • ZiaJD says:

    4//5/6/7 at Grand Central also exit into the Chrysler Building.

  • bgriff says:

    The 4/5 Wall St. stop connects to an interesting series of corridors that run, outside fare control, to the J/Z Broad St. stop and the 2/3 Wall St. stop through the lower levels of several buildings. It’s one of the coolest, and strangest, remaining such passageways.

  • brooklyndan says:

    33rd St on the 6 has an entrance into 2 Park Ave, and I think there used to be one into 1 Park, too.

    The Jay Street/Metrotech entrance into 370 jay is closed.

    Borough Hall/Court St. on the 2/3/4/5/N/R opens into Borough Hall, although the entrance is usually (permanently?) closed. There’s also a bank window (closed for the last 10 years) in that station, under the Montague St/Court St entrance.

    The Clark St. stop (2/3) opens into the mall but doesn’t go into either wing of the former St. George Hotel, above it.

    Wall Street (2/3) opens into the lobby of …. something or other.

    There are a million of these building entrances around Rockefeller Center, of course, as far west as the building on the NE corner of 49th St and Broadway (N/R), which is not Rock Center at all. It’s possible to walk underground from 49th and Broadway all the way to St. Patrick’s Cathedral.

  • John says:

    The lobby of the Hearst Tower is connected to the Columbus Circle station

  • Lawrence Velázquez says:

    42nd St–PABT exits to both wings of the Port Authority Bus Terminal, obviously (NB: NOT the same as the Port Authority Building!).

  • Jerrold says:

    You included the Empire State Building.
    What subway is there at Fifth Ave. and 34th St.?

  • Noah Brier says:

    @Jerrold – You know what, I think you’re right … I made that up.

  • MML says:

    I’ve also used the Fulton St entrance into 110 Williams St, but my favorite is the Grand Central exit into my favorite Art Deco building, the Chanin Building at 122 E 42nd. Beautiful deco details have been retained and can be seen everywhere!

  • AK says:

    The Wall St. 4-5 stop connects to the Equitable Building (120 Broadway), as does the Broad Street JZ stop. There is a terrific barber shop in the basement of the Equitable Building that I highly recommend.

    The Chase Manhattan Building is also accessible from the same series of tunnels emanating from the Wall St 4/5, Broad Street J/Z.

  • Duckie says:

    There will soon be an entrance in 360 2nd Street in Carroll Gardens Brooklyn to the Carroll Street station. No direct access to the building though.

  • Bart says:

    At 111 8th Ave (near 15th Street, the building that Google bought with Banana Republic at the ground floor), there’s something that looks like a subway entrance in the building.

  • pete says:

    169 street has a stair case in a building, with a couple shuttered retail places along the staircase passage. Also 191st street is like Clark Street, elevator bank from subway that opens inside a building with retail surrounding it.

  • Alex C says:

    23 Street downtown on the 6 has an entrance to the Credit Suisse building, though I’m not sure if it’s used.

  • R2 says:

    Pretty comprehensive from the comment thread.

    I would add what is now called Court Sq – 23 St into the Citi building.

    For whoever mentioned the Woolworth Building and City Hall (Broadway one), great one! There’s also one that connects to Park Pl (2,3) that is closed up.

    Note: this list expands if you include entrances that are within the building’s property line but don’t necessarily lead you into a sub-basement / lobby / or “shunt” to the street a la Union Sq next to Whole Foods.

    50th St on the 1 leads into the plaza of the Paramount building a lot of which is just below street level.

    Let’s not forget the Municipal Building (Manhattan)connecting Chambers Street (J,Z) & City Hall (4,5,6).

  • Matt Kroll says:

    The 45th Street passage in GCT has a walled-off entrance to the Roosevelt Hotel.

  • Jim says:

    To Peter who posted on May 24th at 9:42 AM: Yes, there is an entrance into Bloomingdale’s at the North End of the 6 Train Platform at the 59th Street / Lexington Avenue Stop. Since the # 4 & # 5 Trains also run Express on the Lower Level, all three of these Trains can provide access to this entrance into Bloomingdale’s at this stop.

  • Edward says:

    The entrance from the IRT #1 at South Ferry directly into the SI Ferry Terminal is no longer extant. The South Ferry/Whitehall station on the #1 and R lines now lets riders off just outside the entrance to the ferry terminal, but not directly inside it like the circa 1905 station used to.

  • Jim says:

    In my 11:07 AM post this morning, (RE: the IRT 59th Street Stop that allows for direct access into the Basement Level of Bloomingdale’s), I almost forgot that the N, R & W Trains also stop underneath the # 4 # 5 & # 6 Lines at this Station. SO, for the sake of climbing the stairs at the Western end of the N, R or W Platforms at their Lexington Avenue / 59th Street stop, N, R & W Riders can also have direct access into Bloomingdale’s as well.

  • Michael says:

    I always wondered why they never built the subway into Yankee Stadium.

  • holycalamity says:

    Spring Street (6) uptown exits out into 60 Spring St – there’s a Parasuco at the corner of Spring and Lafayette.

  • Steve McFarland says:

    And just in the last few months, a new exit at Hoyt-Schermerhorn on the A/C/G has opened up that I’ve been told opens into the lobby of a Schermerhorn office building.

  • sal says:

    Broad Street J/M/Z opens up to 60 Wall and 1 Chase Plaza as well.

  • Raafi says:

    Fulton St on the 2/3 exits into a couple separate buildings, and there’s even the classic subterranean barber shop in one of them.

  • Josh says:

    On the 1 train, the 66th street stop opens directly into Lincoln Center.

    You are correct that the 34th BDFV train exits directly into the JCPenney’s at the Manhattan Mall.

  • Matt says:

    Wall St 2/3 exits into the lower concourse of One Chase Plaza. Not exactly the lobby, but close.

  • andrew says:

    The complex of abandoned passenger tunnels around Penn Station and 34th St is a lot more extensive than what you describe. Apparently, it used to be possible to walk from Penn Station all the way up to Bryant Park without leaving the system.

  • diana says:

    there is a new one being built on court street. its on the corner but forgot which street. its very fancy!

  • holycalamity says:

    E/M at Fifth Avenue/53rd exits out into buildings on both the 5th Ave and Madison Ave sides.

    Someone mentioned the 3rd Ave exit at Lex/53rd, but the Lex Ave exit is inside the Citi Plaza complex, though I don’t think there’s a direct connection between the station and the office building.

  • Ed says:

    The N/Q stop at Astoria — Ditmars Boulevard exits into a pretty shoddy, unremarkable building on one side.

  • George says:

    The 68th Street-Hunter College 6 train stop opens into Hunter College.

  • Margaret says:

    The 1/R exit at the Staten Island ferry no longer exits directly into the terminal. The 1 train used to but no longer does since the redesign last winter. It’s only a 30 feet from the outdoor exit of the 1 (if you exit via the escalators at the front of the downtown trains) to the doors of the ferry terminal though.

  • Vacuum Packed says:

    Haven’t seen this mentioned: the 175th Street stop on the A exits (through a tunnel to the north) into the George Washington Bridge bus terminal.

  • Randall says:

    There’s one into the building atop radio city… I think its 1271 6th ave (aka ave of the americas). It’s for the F/V, I believe.

    I used to be able to go to and from work with only three blocks of daylight when I lived on the UES. (A commute which was a huge subway-NOOB illusion, as I’d spend much more time waiting for the F connection at 60~ than I would if i just walked.)

  • Lee says:

    Near Cooper square/astor place/saint marks (blanking out on the subway line – I no longer live in the city). There is a kmart/retail space which has one entire wall of it’s basement level conmected to the subway. If I remember correctly, not just with entrances but also store windows for merchandise displays. Sadly, only K-mart, but kinda cool.

  • John V says:

    The downtown 6 train at the 23rd Street station has a 22nd Street exit. It has two stairways: one that opens onto the 22nd street sidewalk on the NE corner of Park Ave South and 22nd, and another that’s been closed for more than a decade.

    That one, recently renovated but remaining closed more than two years after the work finished, opens through the little bank building now occupied by an Associated/Morton-Williams supermarket.

    That building is now a shell, gutted but saved as part of an adjacent high-rise condo. But for this staircase to remain closed–apparently there is a fight between the MTA and the condo board over handicapped access–is a travesty. As anyone who’s used that exit during rush-hour, with the backups of commuters just waiting to use the single stairway, knows.

  • Carol L. Weinfeld says:

    Thank you for the list. I especially appreciate the library branch example. It’s interesting how user utility and experience changed in architecture and in New York City over time. Currently the focus is often on the design itself and not how the user enters and becomes part of the design.

  • mm says:

    Back in the 1970s New York Magazine published an article about the underground passageways connecting subways and buildings.

    Also I used to eat at the Automat across 42nd Street from Grand Central Terminal. There was a stairway that went from the subway into the Automat.

    The tunnel from Herald Square to Penn Station was pretty narrow. I remember that some old Macy’s ads, probably from the teens or 1920s were visible on the walls. I’m sure that they had been uncovered during some renovation activity.

  • Sriram Venkitachalam says:

    John mentioned the Hearst tower lobby connected to the Columbus Circle station. Actually, technically it is not connected to the station. But for all practical purposes it sort of is. The stairs open to the sidewalk and if you turn around the pillar and walk forth you’ll enter the Hearst building. That’s about 1 second on the sidewalk. There’s even an illuminated board underground welcoming you to the Hearst building.

  • mattmaison says:

    There is an entrance to the subway level of Grand Central at the bottom of 110 E 42nd St.

  • subway-buff says:

    All stations with elevator exit only such as Clark Street also have an emergency stairway located near the elevators. The stairs are normally locked unless needed in which case a supervisor will come, check the stairway and then authorize use(or NYPD or FDNY)
    I am a retired station agent

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