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51st/53rd/55th Street is a New York City Subway station complex on the IRT Lexington Avenue Line, IND Queens Boulevard Line, and IND Second Avenue Line. Starting from Lexington Avenue and stretching from 51st Street to 55th Street and Second Avenue in Midtown Manhattan, it is served by the:

  • 8, E and U trains at all times
  • 6 trains at all times except late nights
  • M and Y trains during weekdays
  • <6> trains during weekdays in the peak direction
  • 4 and T trains during late nights

The complex comprises three separate stations: 51st Street (Lexington Avenue Line), Lexington Avenue–53rd Street (Queens Boulevard Line), and 55th Street (Second Avenue Line).

In 2015, the station complex was ranked eleventh in ridership, with over 22,000,000 passengers entering the station.

Originally two separate stations, the Lexington Avenue–53rd Street IND station and 51st Street IRT station are now connected via a transfer passage, which was opened in 1988 upon the completion of 599 Lexington Avenue. The 55th Street station was connected to the complex when the line itself opening a year later in October 1989.

Station layoutEdit

G Street Level Exit/ Entrance
(Elevators at NE corner of 52nd Street and Lexington Avenue, south side of 53rd Street west of Second Avenue and 57th Street west of Second Avenue)
B1
Lexington Avenue Line platforms
Side platform, doors will open on the right; accessable
Northbound local 6, <6> toward Pelham Bay Park (6 toward Parkchester rush hours and middays) (59th Street)
8 toward Gun Hill Road (59th Street)
← 4 toward Woodlawn (late nights) (59th Street)
Southbound local 6, <6>, 8 toward Brooklyn Bridge–City Hall (4 toward New Lots Avenue late nights) (Grand Central–42nd Street)
Side platform, doors will open on the right; accessable
B2 Northbound express 4, 5 do not stop here
Southbound express 4, 5 do not stop here
B3
Second Avenue Line Platforms
Northbound
Local
U toward Throgs Neck (72nd Street)
Y toward Jamaica–179th Street (Roosevelt Island)
←T toward Broadway-125th Street (72nd Street) (late nights only)
Island platform, doors will open on the left; accessible
Southbound
Local
U toward Broad Street (48th Street)
Y toward Whitehall Street (48th Street)
→T toward Rockaway Park (48th Street) (late nights only)
B4 Northbound
Express
T does not stop here
Southbound
Express
T does not stop here
B5
Queens Boulevard Line platforms
Southbound E toward World Trade Center (Fifth Avenue/53rd Street)
M toward Metropolitan Avenue (Fifth Avenue/53rd Street)
Island platform, doors will open on the left; accessable
Northbound E toward Jamaica Center–Parsons/Archer (Court Square–23rd Street)
M toward Forest Hills–71st Avenue (Court Square–23rd Street)

A shopping arcade outside fare control leads to a staircase and elevator inside the south side of 132 East 53rd Street that go up to the northeast corner of East 52nd Street and Lexington Avenue. There is a token booth and turnstile bank leading to the passageway between the two lines, which was added in 1989. Outside fare control under the Citigroup Center, there are two stairs and an elevator. The passageway extends to the staircases and escalators going down to the IND platform and contains a turnstile bank in the center. In 2003, as part of efforts to ease crowding in the station, a mezzanine was added to connect the passageway to the Third Avenue end of the IND station.

IRT Lexington Avenue Line PlatformsEdit

51st Street on the IRT Lexington Avenue Line, opened on July 17, 1918, is a local station with two local tracks and two side platforms. The two express tracks, used by the 4 and 5 trains during daytime hours, pass through a lower level and are not visible from the platforms. Both platforms have emergency exits from the lower level express tracks.

The station features modern beige bricks over the original tiles, but the standard IRT-style mosaics remain intact. There is a crossunder at the extreme north end of the platforms with an elevator on each side and an escalator on the Brooklyn Bridge-bound side. A ceramic artwork called Tunnel Vision by Nina Yankowitz was installed here in 1989.

The passageway to the IND Queens Boulevard Line is on the extreme north end of the northbound platform, with a crossunder to the southbound side.

The platforms are approximately 25 feet below street level and the station's full-time fare control areas are at the center of each. A staircase of seven steps goes up to a turnstile bank and outside fare control, there is a token booth and four street stairs. The ones on the Bronx-bound side go up either eastern corners of Lexington Avenue and East 51st Street while the ones on the Brooklyn Bridge-bound side go up to either western corners.

ExitsEdit

The southbound platform has a part-time fare control area near the south end. A seven-step staircase goes up to a turnstile bank and outside fare control, there is a customer assistance booth and one staircase going up to the front entrance of the Doubletree Metropolitan Hotel on the southwest corner of Lexington Avenue and East 50th Street. It is the southernmost station on the Lexington Avenue Line to be directly under Lexington Avenue itself. South from here, the line shifts slightly westward to Park Avenue.

At Lexington Avenue and 51st Street, eight stairs go up to all four corners of that intersection (two to each corner). The eastern stairs serve the northbound platform, and the western stairs serve the southbound platform.

IND Queens Boulevard Line PlatformsEdit

Lexington Avenue–53rd Street on the IND Queens Boulevard Line opened on August 19, 1933 and has two tracks and one island platform. It was built 70 feet (21 m) below street level, as the line had to pass beneath all of the north–south subway lines that were built before it. As a result, long escalators and staircases are required to reach the mezzanine from the platform.

There are no tiles, trim line, or mosaics on the track walls. East of this station (railroad north), the line goes under the East River to Long Island City, Queens.

ExitsEdit

This station has an unstaffed entrance/exit at the east (railroad north) end. One escalator and one elevator from the platform goes up to a turnstile bank, where two staircases go up to either western corners of Third Avenue and 53rd Street. A larger staircase goes up to the entrance plaza of 205 East 53rd Street at the northeast corner, and there is also an entrance/exit from under the southeast-corner building. The original name, Lexington–3rd Avenues, came from this exit.

At the extreme west (railroad south) end of the platform, a bank of two escalators and one staircase (which were once the longest in the world), a single escalator, and one ADA-accessible elevator go up to the full-time mezzanine with a token booth, where a turnstile bank provide entrance/exit from the station. One glass-enclosed staircase goes up to the entrance plaza of 132 East 53rd Street at the southeast corner of Lexington Avenue. A larger staircase goes up to a sunken shopping plaza of the Citigroup Center at the northeast corner of the aforementioned intersection.

IND Second Avenue Line PlatformsEdit

55th Street on the IND Second Avenue Line opened October 29th, 1989, along with the line north of Grand Street. This station is built so that it is more wide open than most other underground stations in the system; its architecture, along with other Second Avenue Subway stations, was compared to a Washington Metro station by Dr. Michael Horodniceanu, President of MTA Capital Construction. The platform is 50 feet (15.24 m) below street level. The platform for the 55th Street station, like the other Second Avenue Subway stations, is 27.8 feet (8.5 m) wide.

Originally the Second Avenue Elevated had one station at 57th Street and Second Avenue while the Third Avenue Elevated had a stop on nearby Third Avenue and 53rd Street. The Second Avenue line was designed to replace both these stations, but the Second and Third Avenue elevated lines were demolished in 1949 and 1955 respectively.

In 1983, the Regional Plan Association considered a full-length Second Avenue Subway, which include 57th Street as one of its planned 13 stations. The main station entrance is at 57th Street, with secondary entrances lie between 57th and 53rd Streets.

57th Street was originally a planned express station with four tracks with two island platforms, but later simplified to two tracks and one island platform. The name was also changed to 55th Street to encourage riders to use the connection to the IND 53rd Street Line.

Entrances, exits, and ancillary buildingsEdit

There are 4 entrances and exits and two elevators.

Exit location Exit Type Number of exits
Entrance 1
(2 entry points)
Within building at SE corner of Second Avenue and 53rd Street
Escalator 2 escalators
Entrance 1
SW corner of Second Avenue and 53rd Street
Elevator 1
Entrance 2
(2 entry points)
SW corner of Second Avenue and 55th Street
Staircase
Escalator
Each entry point has:
1 staircase
1 escalator
Entrance 2
SE corner of Second Avenue and 55th Street
Staircase
Escalator
Each entry point has:
1 staircase
1 escalator
Entrance 3
(2 entry points)
SE corner of Second Avenue and 57th Street
Staircase
Escalator
Each entry point has:
1 staircase
1 escalator
Entrance 3
SW corner of Second Avenue and 57th Street
Elevator 1

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