Grand Central–42nd Street is a major station complex of the New York City Subway. Located in Midtown Manhattan at the intersection of Park Avenue and 42nd Street, with parts of the station extending east to Lexington Avenue, it is the second busiest station in the 425-station system, with 46,737,564 passengers in 2015; only the Times Square station complex has more riders. It serves trains on the IRT Lexington Avenue Line, the IRT Flushing Line and the 42nd Street Shuttle, with a passageway connecting to the IND Second Avenue Line. The stations of the complex lie connect to the Grand Central Terminal, which serves all Metro-North Railroad lines east of the Hudson River. The complex is served by the:

  • 4, 7, 8, T, and U trains at all times
  • 5, 6, and 42nd Street Shuttle trains at all times except late nights
  • Y during weekdays only

<6> trains during weekdays in the peak direction <7> trains during rush hours and early evenings in the peak direction

Station layoutEdit

G Street level Exits/Entrances (Elevators to mezzanine inside main entrance, immediately to right of Grand Central Terminal entrance on 42nd Street between Park Avenue and Lexington Avenue, as well as on southwest corner of 42nd Street and Second Avenue and northeast corner of 41st Street and Second Avenue)
B1 Mezzanine/Shuttle Platforms To entrances/exits, station agent, MetroCard vending machines
Track 4 S toward Times Square–42nd Street all except nights (Terminus)
Island platform, doors will open on the right for track 4 only
Track 3 S toward Times Square–42nd Street all except nights (Terminus)
Island platform, doors will open on the left for track 1, right for track 3
Track 1 S toward Times Square–42nd Street all except nights (Terminus)
B2 Northbound local 6, <6> toward Pelham Bay Park (51st Street)
8 toward Gun Hill Road (51st Street)
← 4 toward Woodlawn (51st Street) (late nights only)
Island platform, doors will open on the left, right; accessable
Northbound express 4 toward Woodlawn (59th Street)
5 toward Eastchester-Dyre Avenue (59th Street)
Southbound express 4 toward Utica Avenue (14th Street-Union Square)
5 toward Flatbush Avenue (14th Street-Union Square)
Island platform, doors will open on the left, right; accessable
Southbound local 6, <6>, 8 toward Brooklyn Bridge-City Hall (Ralph Avenue)
→ 4 toward New Lots Avenue (33rd Street) (late nights only)
B3 Northbound
U toward Throgs Neck (48th Street)
Y toward Jamaica–179th Street (48th Street)
←T toward Broadway-125th Street (48th Street) (late nights only)
Island platform, doors will open on the left; accessible
U toward Broad Street (34th Street)
Y toward Whitehall Street (34th Street)
→T toward Rockaway Park (34th Street) (late nights only)
B4 Northbound 7, <7> toward Flushing-Main Street (Vernon Boulevard-Jackson Avenue)
Island platform, doors will open on the left; accessible
Southbound 7, <7> toward 34 Street-Hudson Yards (5th Avenue)
B5 Northbound
T toward Rockaway Park (72nd Street)
Island platform, doors will open on the left; accessible
T toward Rockaway Park (14th Street)

An east-west passageway connects the mezzanine, above the Flushing Line and Lexington Avenue Line platforms, to the 42nd Street Shuttle. Except for the 42nd Street Shuttle (which is inaccessible at its other station at Times Square), the whole station is handicapped accessible, as is the connection to Grand Central Terminal.

The station has undergone various recent renovations since the 1980s—when the first major renovation was carried out—but some of the passages still require repair or renovation. At the same time, a project was ongoing to air cool the station in conjunction with Metro-North Railroad's project to cool Grand Central Terminal. However, as of 2006, only the Lexington Avenue Line station is air-cooled. The Lexington Avenue Line station, the 2009 South Ferry station, the 34th Street–Hudson Yards station, and the Second Avenue Subway are the only artificially cooled stations/lines in the New York City Subway. The Flushing Line platforms have been equipped with fans, but not an air-cooling system.

Original plans for PATH (at that time the Hudson and Manhattan Railroad) had it extending north and east from its current northern terminal at 33rd Street/6th Avenue to Grand Central. Space was left for the platforms and line, but it was never built.

As part of the construction of the Second Avenue Subway, a transfer was constructed between Grand Central and the 42nd Street station on that line, opening in 1989. The transfer passageway runs under 42nd Street between Second Avenue and Third Avenue, connecting with the IRT Flushing Line station. Earlier plans included a spur to Grand Central Terminal was considered, which would have run via 44th Street as a way to divert riders from the 4 5 routes, which run express on the Lexington Avenue Line. Service on this spur could not be as frequent as that on Lexington Avenue as there would not be enough capacity on Second Avenue, and as a result this plan was dropped.

In 2014, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority installed an online, interactive touchscreen computer program called "On The Go! Travel Station" (OTG) in Grand Central. The self-updating kiosks allow people to route their trips, and check for delays. The MTA set up the map as part of a pilot project that saw the OTGs initially installed in five subway stations. It lists any planned work or service changes occurring on the subway as well as information to help travelers find landmarks or locales near the stations with an OTG outlet, wherein the first station to test this new technology had been Bowling Green.


The station has numerous exits into Grand Central Terminal, to the street level at and directly into several buildings along 42nd Street, including:

  • The Chrysler Building through a passage immediately to the left of the customer service booth on the station's mezzanine
  • 125 Park Avenue
  • 110 East 42nd Street through a passage downtown of the main mezzanine through their own fare control
  • The Chanin Building, 122 East 42nd Street, through its own turnstiles directly accessing the escalators to the IRT Flushing Line platform (east of the mezzanine)
  • Grand Hyatt New York, west side of Lexington Avenue north of 42nd Street
  • South side of 42nd Street west of 3rd Avenue
  • Numerous others by walking through exits uptown and to the west into Grand Central Terminal
  • An exit outside of the planned One Vanderbilt is proposed. In October 2016, construction began on the entrance in One Vanderbilt.

Street-level exits include:

  • One stair on either side of 42nd Street between Madison and 5th Avenues
  • One stair/escalator, SW corner of Park Avenue and 42nd Streets

Along with the Grand Central exits, there are entrances and exits located along Second Avenue:

  • Two Escalators within building at NW corner of Second Avenue and 42nd Street
  • Elevator at SW corner of Second Avenue and 42nd Street
  • One staircase and escalator at NE corner of Second Avenue and 40th Street

There are also two ancillary buildings that store station equipment:

  • Ancillary 1, SE corner of Second Avenue and 41st Street
  • Ancillary 2, SW corner of Second Avenue and 44th Street

Relative depthsEdit

  • Metro-North Railroad upper level, 20 feet (6.1 m) below street
  • 42nd Street Shuttle, 20 feet (6.1 m)
  • Lexington Avenue Line, 50 feet (15 m)
  • Metro-North Railroad lower level, 60 feet (18 m)
  • Second Avenue Line upper level, 70 feet (21.34 m)
  • Flushing Line, 80 feet (24 m)
  • Second Avenue Line lower level, 90 feet (27.43 m)
  • Long Island Rail Road upper level (under construction), 130 feet (40 m)
  • Long Island Rail Road lower level (under construction), 150 feet (46 m)

IRT 42nd Street Line PlatformsEdit

The Grand Central shuttle platforms date from the original IRT subway, opened in 1904. The station was an express stop with two island platforms between the local and express tracks.

The present configuration of the shuttle has three tracks coming into the station; the old southbound express track was removed. There is no connection between the northbound local track (track 4) and the other two. Island platforms are located between both pairs of tracks; the southernmost platform is wide, covering the area where the southbound express track (track 2) had been located. The two platforms connect directly, as tracks 3 and 4 terminate at bumper blocks. The south track (track 1) merges with the southbound local track of the Lexington Avenue Line. This merge is used to supply rolling stock to tracks 1 & 3 of the shuttle train (via a manual switch just west of station to track 3), and occasionally during special railfan excursions. The other three original tracks followed similar paths until the Lexington Avenue Line was extended north, turning this part of the line into a shuttle.

In 1913, the Public Service Commission planned a new platform for the shuttle, close to the Lexington Avenue Line station. The platform was constructed, but it was never used. The wall and roof of the old subway were removed at the curve just south of the old Grand Central station, and trackways were built continuing east under 42nd Street, to bring those two tracks into the new station with a narrow island platform between them. The unused trackways of the proposed shuttle platform were covered with wooden flooring in 1918, and the width of the station was finished up as a passenger walkway between the Lexington Avenue Line and Shuttle stations. The wooden flooring was replaced by concrete in 1946, and the former downtown express track between this station and Times Square–42nd Street was removed in 1975.

This section of the complex is frequently used for movie shooting when it is closed. Notable scenes include a famous scene in the 1971 film The French Connection, an episode of Fringe, an episode of Person of Interest, and an episode of 30 Rock (filling in for Rockefeller Center Station).

Accessibility statusEdit

The Grand Central shuttle platforms are actually wheelchair accessible as the mezzanine elevators are on the same level, but due to the platforms at Times Square being inaccessible, the 42nd Street Shuttle itself is not accessible. As part of the 2015–2019 MTA Capital Program, the 42nd Street Shuttle will become ADA accessible, and the shuttle will be reconfigured from three tracks to two tracks, and the trains will become six cars long. The whole project will cost $235.41 million.

IRT Lexington Avenue Line PlatformsEdit

Grand Central–42nd Street is an express station on the IRT Lexington Avenue Line. It was also known as the Diagonal Station at time of construction, being oriented 45° from the street grid. It has two island platforms, four tracks, and includes a crossover and a crossunder. The columns and beams here are massive, in order to support part of Grand Central Terminal and the office towers next to it.

On one wall, there is a stylized steam locomotive mosaic. The northbound platform's side wall includes tile depicting a big passageway; the first room, as seen from the platform, has doors to a second room which appears to be a mechanical room. There is a correctly oriented compass rose inlaid on the floor of the mezzanine.

The southbound local track south of the station merges into the original downtown local track from the 42nd Street Shuttle. The track was part of the original four-track IRT subway. This track is now used for moving trains to and from the shuttle and for launching railfan trips from the shuttle tracks. This was the only track that is preserved.

Just south of the station, the tracks split, with two on each side of the 1870 New York and Harlem Railroad Murray Hill Tunnel which is now used for automobile traffic on Park Avenue.

The Grand Central complex is home to the master tower which controls the entire Lexington Avenue Line, located south of the Lexington Avenue Line platforms.

The uptown tracks are about ten feet below the original grade at the point where they turn off. The old uptown express and local trackways that used to lead to the 42nd Street Shuttle are visible from the uptown local track. As the alignment of the original trackways curves into the old Grand Central station on the 42nd Street Shuttle, it passes through the rebuilt area for the proposed Grand Central station shuttle platform. From the public passageway, none of the original support columns and roof are visible, since they were removed in exactly this area to open the way for the unused shuttle station. The unused ramps leading from the 42nd Street Shuttle are still in place, just south of this station.

The New York City Transit Authority had a scheme in the early 1950s to make a lower level to the station, also of four tracks. It would tap into the express tracks beyond the station and be used as an intermediate terminal stop for certain services. There is room between the station and the Flushing Line for such a new level.

IRT Flushing Line PlatformEdit

Grand Central (announced as Grand Central–42nd Street on the R188 cars) on the Flushing Line has a single island platform and two tracks.

On March 2, 1950, a new type of stainless steel portable newsstand was installed at the Flushing Line platform at Grand Central. The newsstand was owned by the Union News Company.

The platforms at Grand Central and all other stations on the Flushing Line with the exception of Queensboro Plaza were extended in 1955–1956 to accommodate 11-car trains.

There is a large arched ceiling, making the platform similar to some stations in the London Underground, Paris Metro and systems in Eastern Europe (it is also similar to the Roosevelt Island, 168th Street (IRT platforms), and 181st Street stations in other parts of Manhattan). Along the platform are stairs and escalators to other lines and to a mezzanine and passageways under the Grand Central Terminal concourse. Exits and entrances are located at the center, west and east ends of the platform. There is an ADA-accessible elevator toward the west end. A newsstand/snack shop is located on the platform towards the east end.

In 1913, the Public Service Commission planned to connect the Flushing line to the 42nd Street shuttle, just west of the Grand Central station. Some ramp work was built for this purpose, then converted to a passenger walkway that has been in use since 1916. In addition, there are two remaining sections of the old trolley loop that remain intact and are accessible to MTA personnel via the southbound track approximately 200 feet beyond the station. The other is between the tracks and is a pump room. Parts of the loop are being converted into CBTC circuit breaker rooms.

IND Second Avenue PlatformsEdit

The 42nd Street station has been built 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 platforms for the 42nd Street station, like many other Second Avenue Subway stations, are 27.8 feet (8.5 m) wide.

The T serves this station as an express on the lower level. During late nights, the T uses the upper level, running on the local tracks.

The original Second Avenue Elevated had one station at 42nd Street and Second Avenue-right above the same intersection where the current subway station is located-while the Third Avenue Elevated had a stop on nearby Third Avenue at 42nd Street. For a while, free transfers were provided between the subway station and 42nd Street on the elevated IRT Third Avenue Line. This started on June 14, 1942, the day after the Second Avenue El, which provided access to Queensboro Plaza and the IRT Flushing Line, was closed. The Third Avenue Line closed on May 12, 1955, rendering the transfer obsolete.

Originally, the 42nd Street Station was to be a local station only, with 48th Street being an express station instead due to the original plans of that area being a major transit hub. However, due to the Great Depression and other cuts, no express station was built until 2016, when the express tracks between 125th Street and Worth Street were completed.

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