181st Street (IRT Broadway–Seventh Avenue Line)

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 181 Street
 "1" train
MTA NYC logo.svg New York City Subway rapid transit station
181 Street 1 train 2 vc.jpg
Station statistics
Address West 181st Street & Saint Nicholas Avenue
New York, NY 10033
Borough Manhattan
Locale Washington Heights
Coordinates 40°50′56″N 73°56′02″W / 40.849°N 73.934°W / 40.849; -73.934Coordinates: 40°50′56″N 73°56′02″W / 40.849°N 73.934°W / 40.849; -73.934
Division A (IRT)
Line       IRT Broadway–Seventh Avenue Line
Services       1 all times (all times)
Transit connections Bus transport NYCT Bus: M3, Bx3, Bx11, Bx13, Bx35, Bx36
Bus transport GWB Bus Station (at 179 St)
Structure Underground
Depth 120 feet (37 m)
Platforms 2 side platforms
Tracks 2
Other information
Opened May 30, 1906; 112 years ago (1906-05-30)
Station code 301[1]
Accessible The mezzanine is compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, but the platforms are not compliant ADA-accessible to mezzanine only; platforms are not ADA-accessible
Wireless service Wi-Fi and cellular service is provided at this station[2]
Passengers (2017) 3,742,446[3]Decrease 0.8%
Rank 134 out of 425
Station succession
Next north 191st Street: 1 all times
Next south 168th Street: 1 all times

181st Street Subway Station (IRT)
MPS New York City Subway System MPS
NRHP reference # 05000224[4]
Added to NRHP March 30, 2005

181st Street is a local station on the IRT Broadway–Seventh Avenue Line of the New York City Subway. Located at the intersection of St. Nicholas Avenue and 181st Street in Washington Heights, Manhattan, it is served by the 1 train at all times.


Track layout

The West Side Branch of the first subway was extended northward to a temporary terminus of 221st Street and Broadway on March 12, 1906 with the station at 181st Street not yet open.[5][6] The 181st Street station opened on May 30, 1906, and on this date express trains on the Broadway branch began running through to 221st Street, eliminating the need to transfer at 157th Street to shuttles.[7]

In 1948, platforms on the IRT Broadway–Seventh Avenue Line from 103rd Street to 238th Street were lengthened to 514 feet to allow full ten-car express trains to platform. Previously the stations could only platform six car local trains. The platform extensions were opened in stages. On April 6, 1948, the stations from 103rd Street to Dyckman Street had their platform extensions opened, with the exception of 125th Street, which had its extension opened on June 11, 1948.[8][9]

On December 28, 1950, the New York City Board of Transportation issued a report concerning the construction of bomb shelters in the subway system. Five deep stations in Washington Heights, including the 181st Street station, were considered to be ideal for being used as bomb-proof shelters. The program was expected to cost $104,000,000. These shelters were expected to provide limited protection against conventional bombs, while providing protection against shock waves and air blast, as well as from the heat and radiation from an atomic bomb. To become suitable as shelters, the stations would require water-supply facilities, first-aid rooms, and additional bathrooms.[10]

In 2004, the number of elevator attendants at the station was reduced to one per station as a result of budget cuts by the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA). The agency had intended to remove all the attendants, but kept one in each station after many riders protested. The change saved $1.2 million a year.[11] In November 2007, the MTA proposed savings cuts to help reduce the agency's deficit. As part of the plan, all elevator operators at 181st Street, along with those in four other stations in Washington Heights, would have been cut.[12] On December 7, 2007, the MTA announced that it would not remove the remaining elevator operators at 181st Street, along with those in four other stations in Washington Heights. The move was intended to save $1.7 million a year, but was not implemented due to pushback from elected officials and residents from the area.[13]

The elevator attendants currently serve as a way to reassure passengers as the elevators are the only entrance to the platforms, and passengers often wait for the elevators with an attendant.[14] The attendants at the five stations are primarily maintenance and cleaning workers who suffered injuries that made it hard for them to continue doing their original jobs.[15]

Ceiling collapses[edit]

During construction[edit]

Station view before the 2009 ceiling collapse

During the station's construction in the mid-1900s, the Fort George Mine Tunnel was being built to take the Interborough Rapid Transit Company's Broadway–Seventh Avenue line through upper Manhattan. Due to the steep terrain, the tunnel had to be mined using explosives. During construction on October 24, 1903, a 300-ton boulder, weakened by such an explosive, gave way, killing 10 miners.[16] Six miners were killed instantly, while eight were injured; four later died of their injuries.[17] The dead miners consisted of eight Italian immigrants, the foreman from Italy, and an electrician from Germany.[18]

2009 collapse[edit]

On August 16, 2009, at around 10:30 pm, a 25-foot section of the bricks lining the 35-foot high curved ceiling of the station collapsed onto both uptown and downtown tracks and platforms. Nobody was injured in the incident.[16] This caused suspension of 1 service between 168th Street and Dyckman Street stations in both directions for eight days with free shuttle buses providing replacement.[19][20] Full end-to-end service on the 1 was restored on August 24, except trains skipped 181st Street.[20] The station reopened to passengers on August 31, 2009.[21][22]

There was also a partial ceiling collapse at the same station in 2007, according to Judith M. Kunoff, Chief Architect for the NYC Transit Authority.[23]

According to NY1, the repairs to the station cost $30 million and did not start until the end of 2012.[24]

Station layout[edit]

G Street level Exit/Entrance
(Elevators in mezzanine. Note: Platforms and street level are not accessible)
M Mezzanine Fare control, station agent
Platform level
Side platform, doors open on the right
Northbound "1" train toward Van Cortlandt Park (191st Street)
Southbound "1" train toward South Ferry (168th Street)
Side platform, doors open on the right
Street stair

This station, which is 120 feet (37 m) below the surface, has four elevators and a footbridge connecting the two side platforms at the northern end of the station. When the station opened on May 30, 1906,[7] there had only been two elevators on the station's east side, but in 1909, two more elevators were added to the west side.[25] There is evidence of manually-operated double-deck elevators as well as two closed footbridges toward the southern end of the station.[26]

There is only a set of emergency stairs for emergency egress in case of a fire, so all riders must take an elevator at to enter or exit the station except in emergencies.

The station was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 2005.[4] As part of the Multiple Property Submission of the Historic Resources of the New York City Subway System, the 181st Street Station is significant in the areas of transportation, community planning, engineering, and architectural design.


There are two exits to this station at either eastern corner of St. Nicholas Avenue and 181st Street. The northeast-corner entrance is inside a building and the southeast-corner entrance is on the street.[27] The fare control area contains a shopping arcade that includes a deli and clothing store.[28]

The station serves Yeshiva University and the George Washington Bridge Bus Terminal.[27]


  1. ^ "Station Developers' Information". Metropolitan Transportation Authority. Retrieved June 13, 2017. 
  2. ^ "NYC Subway Wireless – Active Stations". Transit Wireless Wifi. Retrieved May 18, 2016.
  3. ^ "Facts and Figures: Annual Subway Ridership 2012–2017". Metropolitan Transportation Authority. July 12, 2018. Retrieved July 12, 2018. 
  4. ^ a b "NPS Focus". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service. Retrieved November 6, 2011. 
  5. ^ "Farthest North in Town by the Interborough". The New York Times. January 14, 1907. p. 18. 
  6. ^ District, New York (State) Public Service Commission First (January 1, 1913). Report of the Public Service Commission for the First District of the State of New York. J.B. Lyon Company. 
  7. ^ a b "Express to 221st Street: Will Run In the Subway To-day–New 181st Street Station Ready" (PDF). nytimes.com. Retrieved September 1, 2016. 
  8. ^ Report for the three and one-half years ending June 30, 1949. New York City Board of Transportation. 1949. 
  9. ^ "More Long Platforms – Five Subway Stations on IRT to Accommodate 10-Car Trains". The New York Times. July 10, 1948. p. 8. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved March 27, 2016. 
  10. ^ Ronan, Thomas P. (December 29, 1950). "SUBWAY SHELTERS TO COST $104,000,000 PROPOSED FOR CITY; Board Would Build Havens in Present and Proposed Lines or Convert for Defense EXTENT OF U.S. AID IN DOUBT Most of Routes Would Provide Limited Safety 5 Stations Listed as 'Bomb-Proof' Some Federal Aid Expected Would Expedite Work SUBWAY SHELTERS FOR CITY OUTLINED Provide Longer Occupancy". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved August 3, 2017. 
  11. ^ Piazza, Jo (December 7, 2003). "M.T.A. Urged Not to Cut Elevator Jobs At 5 Stations". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved August 3, 2017. 
  12. ^ Neuman, William (November 30, 2007). "M.T.A. Savings Proposal May Mean Service Cuts". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved August 3, 2017. 
  13. ^ "Changing Course, M.T.A. Will Keep Elevator Operators On". The New York Times. December 8, 2007. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved August 3, 2017. 
  14. ^ Grynbaum, Michael M. (April 28, 2011). "Subway Elevator Operators Dwindle in New York". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved August 3, 2017. 
  15. ^ Waller, Nikki (November 23, 2003). "NEIGHBORHOOD REPORT: WASHINGTON HEIGHTS -- CITYPEOPLE; Why They Take the A Train (and the 1/9)". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved August 3, 2017. 
  16. ^ a b Dwyer, Jim (August 18, 2009). "Subway Station Ceilings Were Built to Last, but Not Forever". The New York Times. Retrieved July 16, 2016. 
  17. ^ Roess, R.P.; Sansone, G. (2012). The Wheels That Drove New York: A History of the New York City Transit System. Springer Tracts on Transportation and Traffic. Springer Berlin Heidelberg. p. 166. ISBN 978-3-642-30484-2. Retrieved July 16, 2016. 
  18. ^ "American Experience . Technology . New York Underground . Death Beneath the Streets". PBS. Retrieved July 16, 2016. 
  19. ^ "Subway station repairs to take days". WABC-TV news. August 18, 2009. Retrieved August 18, 2009. 
  20. ^ a b Grynbaum, Michael M. (August 24, 2009). "Service on No. 1 Subway Line Is Largely Restored". The New York Times. Retrieved August 24, 2009. 
  21. ^ "No. 1 Line Service Restored to 181st Street". Metropolitan Transit Authority. August 30, 2009. Archived from the original on September 3, 2009. Retrieved August 31, 2009. 
  22. ^ "Subway Misery Has Express Stop At 181st Street". NY1. Retrieved September 1, 2010. 
  23. ^ Dwyer, Jim (August 18, 2009). "Subway Station Ceilings Were Built to Last, but Not Forever". The New York Times. Retrieved August 24, 2009. 
  24. ^ Redwine, Tina (October 11, 2011). "Washington Heights Straphangers Annoyed At Long-Delayed Subway Station Repairs". NY1. Retrieved October 12, 2011. 
  25. ^ "The New York Times: Friday April 23, 1909". NYTimes.com. April 23, 1909. Retrieved July 16, 2016. 
  26. ^ Pirmann, David; Darlington, Peggy. "IRT West Side Line: 181st Street". www.nycsubway.org. Retrieved July 16, 2016. 
  27. ^ a b "MTA Neighborhood Maps: Washington Heights" (PDF). Metropolitan Transportation Authority. 2015. Retrieved December 31, 2016. 
  28. ^ https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cKd1jToADHE

External links[edit]