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The Astoria Line is a rapid transit line of the BMT Division of the New York City Subway, serving the Queens neighborhood of Astoria. It runs south from Ditmars Boulevard in Astoria to 39th Avenue in Long Island City above 31st Street. It then turns west and serves Queensboro Plaza over Queens Plaza.

The entire line is served by the N train at all times, joined by the W on weekdays.

Description and service Edit

All services make all stops on the BMT Astoria Line.

  Time period
Weekdays All other times
N full line
W full line no service

The north end of the Astoria Line is a two-track terminal at Ditmars Boulevard, with one island platform. South of the station, the center express track, currently not used in revenue service, begins (with crossovers to allow terminating trains to reach the correct track). The next station, Astoria Boulevard, is the only express station on the three-track section. The next four stations are local ones with two side platforms.

South of 39th Avenue, the express track merges with the two outer tracks. The line then curves west and enters Queensboro Plaza, a dual-level station with northbound trains on the upper level, southbound trains on the lower level, and cross-platform transfers to the IRT Flushing Line. Crossover tracks exist between the upper level tracks just north of the station, one of a few connections between the BMT / IND and IRT. After Queensboro Plaza, the line ramps underground, and merges with the 60th Street Tunnel Connection to become the BMT Broadway Line via the 60th Street Tunnel to Manhattan.

History Edit

The Astoria Line was originally part of the IRT, as a spur off the IRT Queensboro Line, now the IRT Flushing Line. The whole line north of Queensboro Plaza opened on February 1, 1917 and was used by trains between Grand Central and Astoria. Through IRT service to the Corona Line (now the Flushing Line) began two months later on April 21.

On July 23, 1917, the Queensboro Bridge spur of the elevated IRT Second Avenue Line opened. At that time, all elevated trains to Queensboro Plaza used the Astoria Line while all subway trains used the Corona Line, though this was later changed with trains alternating between branches.

The 60th Street Tunnel opened on August 1, 1920, allowing BMT trains to reach Queensboro Plaza. However, the stations on the Astoria and Corona Lines were built to IRT specifications, which were too narrow for BMT rolling stock. As a result, those trains terminated at Queensboro Plaza using a relay track east of the station to turn around for the return trip to Manhattan.

The IRT services were numbered in 1948, with 7 being assigned to the Flushing Line and 8 to the Astoria Line. A year later on October 17, 1949, the IRT Second Avenue Line closed, and the platforms on the Astoria Line were shaved back to allow through BMT trains to operate on it, the first ones being the Brighton Local (BMT 1) weekdays & Broadway - Fourth Avenue Local (BMT 2) at all times. Since then, the Astoria Line has hosted the northern end of various services running from Brooklyn through Manhattan.

Extension proposalsEdit

A 1920s Transit Commission study proposed extending the line northwest across or under Randalls and Wards Islands back into Manhattan as a crosstown line at 125th Street, roughly following the route of what is now the Triborough Bridge. As part of the IND Second System plan from 1929, the BMT/IRT Astoria Line would be extended east via Ditmars Boulevard, Astoria Boulevard, 112th Street, and Nassau Boulevard (today's Long Island Expressway) terminating at Cross Island Boulevard. The new line that would have been an extension of the Astoria Line would be called the Long Island City-Horace Harding Boulevard Line. The line would have been 2 tracks to Astoria Boulevard, and afterwards it would become a 4 track line before going back to 2 tracks at Parsons Boulevard. The entire line would be elevated except for part of it, which would have been depressed under Nassau Boulevard. The line would have been extended 8.1 miles at a cost of $17,700,000.

In 1998, an extension of the BMT Astoria Line to LaGuardia Airport was planned as part of a $1.2 billion package to provide access to the New York City airports with funding from the MTA, the Port Authority and the city. The preferred route would have extended the Astoria Line along 31st Street north onto Con Edison’s property at the edge of Astoria and then east along 19th Avenue to the Marine Air Terminal. The MTA also considered an eastward extension along Ditmars Boulevard, and a plan to reroute LaGuardia-bound trains from Queensboro Plaza through the Sunnyside rail yard and along the eastern edge of St. Michael’s Cemetery to elevated tracks parallel to the Grand Central Parkway. A fourth route was to have trains turn east via Astoria Boulevard. All of the options would have new elevated sections built. $645 million for the LaGuardia extension was included in the MTA’s 2000-2004 Five-Year Capital Plan, and in late 2002, Mayor Bloomberg supported the extension. These option were studied in the LaGuardia Airport Subway Access Study. However, community opposition was strong and therefore the plan was canceled in July 2003.

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