Discussion relating to the past and present operations of the NYC Subway, PATH, and Staten Island Railway (SIRT).

Moderator: GirlOnTheTrain

  by jhdeasy
As a former resident of Astoria, 1954-1976, I have an interest in the Queensboro Plaza station, especially during the era (1920s thru 1940s) of its most complex operating configuration.

I recently came across this photo at the Greater Astoria Historical Society website: http://astoriahistory.smugmug.com/galle ... &k=kNxbH37

The view is looking west towards the station, probably taken from the roof of a building at Northern Boulevard (Route 25A) and 41st Avenue. The 2 tracks closest to the camera at the higher elevation are the existing Astoria line. Below, at a lower elevation, you can see the (now demolished) tracks that linked the Astoria line to the (now demolished) northernmost upper and lower level tracks in the BMT side of the Queensboro Plaza station. The photo appears to show 3 tracks (now removed) at a lower elevation curving towards the (now removed) BMT north side of the Queensboro Plaza station, as well as the 2 tracks (which remain today) at a higher elevation curving towards the IRT south side of the Queensboro Plaza station, which remains today.

Here are two diagrams of the historical track configuration in the 1924-1942 era:
http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/c ... _Plaza.png
http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-uUxpyuexr9E/U ... sboro1.jpg

Based on these track diagrams, I have always thought I understood the flow of all trains in and out of the station on all lines/tracks, and that there were only 2 lower elevation tracks that curved between the Astoria line and the BMT north side of the Queensboro Plaza station. One track connected the northernmost upper level BMT track in the station to the Astoria line, and it was used by shuttle trains from Queensboro Plaza to Ditmars Blvd; the other track connected the Astoria line to the northernmost lower level BMT track in the station, and it was used by Astoria line shuttle trains from Ditmars Blvd to Queensboro Plaza.

Question: Can anyone resolve the disparity of 3 tracks in the photo versus 2 tracks in the track diagrams?
  by Kamen Rider
seems to me this was added on latter. all the track maps depcit the lines after 1924 and then after the northside was demoed. But it seems we are at a loss for transitional information. I've never seen a trackmap dated to the changeover period after the Astoria line was made BMT only. It's hard to say what happened in that timeframe.
  by jhdeasy
The sources I have read say 1949 was the year of the final transition.

The platforms on the Astoria line were trimmed back to clear the wider newer BMT subway cars, which now could run through all the way to Ditmars Blvd on the Astoria line. The Ditmars Blvd - Queensboro Plaza - Main Street shuttle trains with older BMT el cars were discontinued. The two northernmost BMT tracks at Queensboro Plaza, both upper and lower level, were no longer used. The connection to/from the BMT 60th Street subway tunnel was shifted south by one track to the northernmost of the two remaining tracks, both upper and lower level, on the former IRT side of the station; these were the tracks that previously connected to the branch of the IRT Second Avenue elevated line across the upper level of Queensboro Bridge. The flying junctions east of the station that the BMT shuttle trains formerly used to reverse direction between the Astoria line and the Flushing line were no longer in use; this included the two BMT tracks in my question. The layup track (formerly used by the BMT subway trains that reversed direction at Queensboro Plaza) on the west side of the Flushing line atop the Queens Blvd bridge over Sunnyside Yard and the LIRR was no longer used. The tracks that were in service at the end of 1949 are basically what we have in service today in 2013. Nothing new was added back then.

The dis-used northern half of the station, most of the dis-used trackage and its support structure was demolished circa 1963, in time for the 1964-1965 New York World's Fair. Some remnants of the disused trackways remain both east and west of the station, allowing the knowing eye to partially visualize the ways trains used to operate many years ago.
  by R36 Combine Coach
I'm suprised the northern half of Queensboro Plaza remained standing to 1963. Why wasn't it demolished in 1949?
  by jhdeasy
I suspect it may have been an issue of the cost of the demolition work. Leaving all of the unused steelwork there after 1949 had no real cost associated with it, other than occasional painting. Tearing it down would cost money, but that could be offset by the scrap value of the steel.

Maybe the local merchants, residents and politicians wanted to improve the look and feel of the area, and scrapping trackways and supports no longer needed was one day to achieve that goal. It probably improved the flow of motor vehicle traffic on the streets below.

Maybe it was part of a larger City of New York / Borough of Queens beautification / cleanup effort associated with preparations for the 1964-1965 World's Fair.