Welcome to the home of Noah Brier. I'm the co-founder of Variance and general internet tinkerer. Most of my writing these days is happening over at Why is this interesting?, a daily email full of interesting stuff. This site has been around since 2004. Feel free to get in touch. Good places to get started are my Framework of the Day posts or my favorite books and podcasts. Get in touch.

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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