Grand Central–42nd Street station

Grand Central–42nd Street (also signed as 42nd Street–Grand Central) is a major station complex of the New York City Subway. Located in Midtown Manhattan at 42nd Street between Madison and Lexington avenues, it is the second busiest station in the 424-station system, with 44,928,488 passengers in 2017; only the Times Square station complex has more riders.[5] It serves trains on the IRT Lexington Avenue Line, the IRT Flushing Line and the 42nd Street Shuttle, and lies next to and beneath Grand Central Terminal, which serves all Metro-North Railroad lines east of the Hudson River.

 Grand Central–42 Street
 "4" train"5" train"6" train"6" express train"7" train"7" express train​​42nd Street Shuttle
MTA NYC logo.svg New York City Subway station complex
Grand Central 4567S vc.jpg
Newer entrance to Grand Central–42nd Street at Lexington Avenue
Station statistics
AddressEast 42nd Street & Park Avenue
New York, NY 10017
LocaleMidtown Manhattan
Coordinates40°45′08″N 73°58′39″W / 40.75222°N 73.97750°W / 40.75222; -73.97750Coordinates: 40°45′08″N 73°58′39″W / 40.75222°N 73.97750°W / 40.75222; -73.97750
DivisionA (IRT)
LineIRT 42nd Street Shuttle
   IRT Flushing Line
   IRT Lexington Avenue Line
Services   4 all times (all times)
   5 all times except late nights (all times except late nights)
   6 all times (all times) <6> weekdays until 8:45 p.m., peak direction (weekdays until 8:45 p.m., peak direction)​
   7 all times (all times) <7> rush hours until 9:30 p.m., peak direction (rush hours until 9:30 p.m., peak direction)​​
   S all except late nights (all except late nights)
Transit connectionsBus transport NYCT Bus: M1, M2, M3, M4, M42, M101, M102, M103, Q32, X27, X28, X37, X38, X63, X64, X68, SIM4C, SIM6, SIM8, SIM8X, SIM11, SIM22, SIM25, SIM26, SIM30, SIM31, SIM33C
Bus transport MTA Bus: BxM1, BxM3, BxM4, BxM6, BxM7, BxM8, BxM9, BxM10, BxM18, BM1, BM2, BM3, BM4, BM5, QM21, QM31, QM32, QM34, QM35, QM36, QM40, QM42, QM44
Bus transport Academy Bus: SIM23, SIM24
Railway transportation Metro-North Railroad: Harlem, Hudson, and New Haven Lines (at Grand Central Terminal)
Other information
OpenedJune 22, 1915; 105 years ago (1915-06-22)[1]
Station code610[2]
AccessibleThis station is partially compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 Partially ADA-accessible (all lines except 42nd Street Shuttle; shuttle is accessible at Grand Central but not at its only other station at Times Square)
Wireless serviceWi-Fi and cellular service is provided at this station[3][4]
Former/other names42nd Street–Grand Central
Passengers (2019)45,745,700[6]Increase 1.2%
Rank2 out of 424[6]

The complex is served by the:

  • 4, 6, and 7 trains at all times
  • 5 train at all times except late nights
  • 42nd Street Shuttle (S) from 6 AM to midnight daily
  • <6> train during weekdays in the peak direction
  • <7> train during rush hours and early evenings in the peak direction

Station layoutEdit

G Street level Exit/entrance
  Elevator to mezzanine inside main entrance, immediately to right of Grand Central Terminal entrance on 42nd Street between Park Avenue and Lexington Avenue
B1 Mezzanine To entrances/exits, station agent, MetroCard vending machines
Track 4   toward Times Square (Terminus)
Island platform
Track 3   toward Times Square (Terminus)
Island platform
Track 1   toward Times Square (Terminus)
B2 Northbound local    toward Pelham Bay Park or Parkchester (51st Street)
  toward Woodlawn late nights (51st Street)
Island platform  
Northbound express   toward Woodlawn (59th Street)
  toward Dyre Avenue or Nereid Avenue (59th Street)
Southbound express   toward Utica Avenue (14th Street–Union Square)
  toward Flatbush Avenue weekdays, Bowling Green evenings/weekends (14th Street–Union Square)
Island platform  
Southbound local    toward Brooklyn Bridge (33rd Street)
  toward New Lots Avenue late nights (33rd Street)
B3 Escalator landing
B4 Southbound    toward Hudson Yards (Fifth Avenue)
Island platform  
Northbound    toward Flushing–Main Street (Vernon Boulevard–Jackson Avenue)

1918 plan

There is a mezzanine above the Lexington Avenue Line's platforms, which have numerous exits to and from Grand Central itself as well as to the streets (see § Exits). Escalators connect this mezzanine to the Flushing Line, although there are also staircases and passageways directly between the Lexington Avenue and Flushing Lines' platforms. The Flushing Line platform also has its own exit at its extreme eastern end, though all other exits are through the Lexington Avenue Line platforms and mezzanine.[7] Outside the Lexington Avenue Line mezzanine's fare control, there are stairs, escalators, and an elevator to Grand Central. An east-west passageway connects the Lexington Avenue Line's mezzanine to the 42nd Street Shuttle, which also has its own dedicated entrance and exit stairs. 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.[8]

The station has undergone various renovations since the 1980s—when the first major renovation was carried out—but some of the passages and other components 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 is one of a very small number of artificially cooled stations in the New York City Subway.[9][10] The Flushing Line platforms have been equipped with fans, but not an air-cooling system.

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.[11] The MTA set up the map as part of a pilot project in five subway stations. It lists any planned work or service changes, as well as information to help travelers find nearby landmarks and addresses.[12][13][14]


The station has numerous exits into Grand Central Terminal, to the street level at and directly into several buildings along 42nd Street and Park Avenue, including:[7][15]

An exit outside of the planned One Vanderbilt is proposed.[16] In October 2016, construction began on the entrance in One Vanderbilt.[17]

Exits directly to the street include:

  • One stair on either side of 42nd Street between Madison and 5th Avenues[7]
  • One stair/escalator, SW corner of Park Avenue and 42nd Street[7]
  • Two stairs, SW corner of Lexington Avenue and 42nd Street[7]

Relative depthsEdit

Canceled Hudson & Manhattan Railroad platformEdit

In the 1900s and 1910s, it was proposed to extend the Uptown Hudson Tubes of the Hudson & Manhattan Railroad (now PATH), which had opened in 1908, from its current terminus of 33rd Street and Sixth Avenue to Grand Central.[18] The H&M platforms would have been directly below the 42nd Street Line's platforms, but above the IRT's Flushing Line platforms. However, by 1909, the IRT had constructed an unauthorized ventilation shaft between the 42nd Street line and the Steinway Tunnel. This would force the H&M to build its station at a very low depth, thus making it harder for any passengers to access the H&M station.[19] As an alternative, it was proposed to connect the Uptown Tubes to the Steinway Tunnel.[20]

A franchise to extend the Uptown Tubes to Grand Central was awarded in June 1909, with the expectation that construction could start within six months and that the new extension would be ready by January 1911.[21] However, by 1914, the H&M had not started construction of the Grand Central extension yet, and it wished to delay the start of construction further.[22] By 1920, the H&M had submitted seventeen applications in which they sought to delay construction of the extensions; in all seventeen instances, the H&M had claimed that it was not an appropriate time to construct the tube.[23] This time, however, the Rapid Transit Commissioners declined this request for a delay, effectively ending the H&M's right to build an extension to Grand Central.[24]


As part of the construction of One Vanderbilt at the corner of Vanderbilt Avenue and 42nd Street, developer SL Green Realty is making several upgrades to the station. The improvements entail multiple new entrances and exits, including two staircases to the southeast corner of Lexington Avenue and 42nd Street, as well as an underground entrance directly from One Vanderbilt to the 42nd Street Shuttle platforms. Three new staircases from the mezzanine to the southbound Lexington Avenue Line platform, and one new staircase to the northbound platform, will be added. The project also involves reconfiguration of columns supporting the nearby Grand Hyatt New York hotel at the southeast corner of the station, destruction of 40% of the Hyatt's basement to expand the subway mezzanine, and the thinning of columns on platforms and mezzanines to increase space. A new elevator is being added within the existing Hyatt entrance, and the existing staircase was replaced.[25][26] This would directly result in additional capacity for the station, since 4,000 to 6,000 more subway passengers per hour would be able to use it.[25] These improvements would cost over $200 million.[27][28] The MTA mandated the station improvements in exchange for allowing the tower's construction.[26] In 2015, SL Green gave $220 million toward the building's construction, of which two-thirds of the money would be used for station redesign;[29][30] this marked the largest private investment to date to the New York City Subway system.[25] The upgrades are estimated to be completed by 2021.

A new mezzanine built below the existing mezzanine will provide a direct connection from the subway station to the lower level of Grand Central Terminal and the future Long Island Rail Road concourse built as part of the East Side Access project. This will replace the current escalators from the existing mezzanine directly to the Flushing Line platforms, and is estimated to cost $75–150 million.[31]

As part of the construction of the Second Avenue Subway, a transfer might be included between here and the 42nd Street station on that line. This would provide a transfer to the T train, which is proposed to serve Phase 3 of the Second Avenue Subway (which is currently not funded or scheduled). Currently, the transfer is under evaluation.[32][33] The 900-foot long[34] transfer passageway would run under 42nd Street between Second Avenue and Third Avenue, connecting to the IRT Flushing Line platform. Up to four properties might need to be required for the necessary ancillaries and emergency exits to built.[35] The passageway would run under the northern side of 42nd Street, and the exit at the eastern end would be on the northwestern corner of that street and Second Avenue.[36] Under a plan for the line in the 1990s, a spur to Grand Central Terminal was considered, which would have turned off Second Avenue at 44th Street as a way to divert riders from the 4 and ​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.[37]

IRT 42nd Street Shuttle platformsEdit

 Grand Central
  New York City Subway station (rapid transit)
Passengers exit a 42nd Street shuttle, and walk toward Grand Central Terminal
Station statistics
DivisionA (IRT)
LineIRT 42nd Street Shuttle
Services   S   (all except late nights)
Platforms2 island platforms
Other information
OpenedOctober 27, 1904; 115 years ago (1904-10-27)[38]
Rebuilt1966; 54 years ago (1966) (after fire)[39]
Station code469[2]
Accessible  ADA-accessible to mezzanine only; platforms are not ADA-accessible
Wireless service [3]
Opposite-direction transfer availableN/A
Former/other names42nd Street–Grand Central
Station succession
Next westTimes Square: S  
Next east(Terminal): S  
33rd Street: no regular service
Track layout
End of former track 2

The Grand Central shuttle platforms date from the original IRT subway, completed in 1904. It was originally a four-track express stop with two island platforms between the local and express tracks.[38] The present configuration of the shuttle has three tracks coming into the station; the old southbound express track (track 2) was removed. The two platforms connect directly, as tracks 3 and 4 terminate at bumper blocks. Island platforms are located between both pairs of tracks; the southernmost platform is extra wide, covering the area where track 2 had been located.

Track layoutEdit

There is no connection between the northbound local track (track 4) and the other two. West of the station, there is a track connection from the northbound express track 3 to the southbound local track 1.

The southbound local track (track 1) merges with the southbound local track of the Lexington Avenue Line. This merge is used to supply rolling stock to shuttle tracks 1 and 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.[40]


The station opened on October 27, 1904.[38] The opening of the Grand Central shuttle platforms actually predate the terminal itself, as the construction of Grand Central Terminal was completed in 1913.[41]

In 1913, as part of the Dual Contracts, the New York City Public Service Commission planned to split the original IRT system into three segments: two north-south lines, carrying through trains over the Lexington Avenue and Broadway–Seventh Avenue Lines, and a west-east shuttle under 42nd Street. This would form a roughly "H"-shaped system. A new platform for the shuttle would be built close to the current Lexington Avenue Line station.[42] Since there was 400 feet between the eastern end of the original line's station and the new Lexington Avenue Line station, a new shuttle station was to be built near the Lexington Avenue Line station. The construction of the narrow island platform station required building two new trackways extending east under 42nd Street. Although the platform was constructed, it was never used.[43] On August 1, 1918, the Dual Contracts' "H system" was put into service. The station was not ready in time, and therefore wooden flooring was temporarily laid over sections of the trackways at Times Square and Grand Central.[44] The shuttle was heavily used, and the crowding conditions were so bad that the shuttle was ordered closed the next day.[45]

The shuttle reopened September 28, 1918.[46] Track 2 at the Grand Central station was covered over by a wooden platform.[47] A New York Times columnist later said that former southbound express track 2 was still usable for the first few hours of the shuttle's operation, but the wooden platform was placed over that track later the same day to allow shuttles to use former northbound express track 3, due to high demand for the shuttles on the former local tracks, numbered 1 and 4.[48]

On February 12, 1946 work began to double the width of the passageway connecting the shuttle platforms and the main mezzanine over the Lexington Avenue Line platforms. As part of the work the wooden passenger walkway, which had an average width of 15 feet (4.6 m) was replaced by a 37 feet (11 m) wide passageway with concrete flooring. This walkway had been "temporary" when it was put into place in August 1918. The new 350 feet (110 m)-long passageway covered most of the trackways used by downtown trains of the Original Subway prior to 1918. The iron railings along the planked walkway were removed. The project cost $45,800 and was intended to ease congestion. As part of the project, the upper passageway was moved to within fare control to allow passengers to go between the subway mezzanine and the entrance to Grand Central Terminal at the shuttle without paying a fare. This was accomplished by moving the turnstiles at the eastern end of the passageway.[49] In March, members of the Metallic Lathers Union Local 46 sought to halt construction on the project, which was 80 percent complete, as the union objected to having the work done by city employees who made less than union workers.[50] The rebuilt passageway opened on March 18, 1946.[51] Track 2 between this station and Times Square–42nd Street was removed in 1975.[43]

The station suffered a severe fire on April 21, 1964, which destroyed the automated train being tested in the 42nd Street Shuttle at the time.[52][53] The fire began under a shuttle train on track 3, and it became larger, feeding on the wooden platform. The basements of nearby buildings were damaged.[47] Tracks 1 and 4 returned to service on April 23, 1964,[54] while Track 3 returned to service on June 1, 1964.[55] The reinstallation of Track 3 was delayed because of the need to replace 60 beams that were damaged in the fire.[56] From September 19, 1966 to April 1967, service on the shuttle was limited in order to allow for the reconstruction of parts of the line. The entire project cost $419,000 and included the construction of a new mezzanine at Grand Central.[57] As part of the project, the tiles damaged by the smoke from the fire were replaced with tiles in the city's colors of blue, white and orange, with black tiles interspersed. In addition, fluorescent lighting, which was 12 times brighter than the old lighting, was installed.[39]

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, the center track will be removed, and the trains will become six cars long. The whole project will cost $235.41 million.[58] The cost of this part of the project is $30 million.[58][25][59] By December 2016, the project was delayed, with construction set to start in December 2019 and be completed by September 2022.[60][61] A construction contract was awarded on March 7, 2019, with an estimated completion date of March 2022.[62]

Filming locationEdit

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 47th–50th Streets–Rockefeller Center station).

Image galleryEdit

IRT Lexington Avenue Line platformsEdit

 Grand Central–42 Street
  New York City Subway station (rapid transit)
5 train departing
Station statistics
DivisionA (IRT)
Line   IRT Lexington Avenue Line
Services   4   (all times)
   5   (all times except late nights)
   6   (all times) <6>   (weekdays until 8:45 p.m., peak direction)
Platforms2 island platforms
cross-platform interchange
Other information
OpenedJuly 17, 1918; 102 years ago (1918-07-17)[63]
Station code402[2]
Accessible  ADA-accessible (transfer to 42nd Street Shuttle not accessible)
Wireless service [3]
Opposite-direction transfer availableYes
Former/other names42nd Street–Grand Central
Diagonal Station
Station succession
Next north59th Street (express): 4  5  
51st Street (local): 4  6   <6>  
Next   north125th Street (express): 4  5  
51st Street (local): 4  6   <6>  
Next south33rd Street (local): 4  6   <6>  
14th Street–Union Square (express): 4  5  
Next   south28th Street (local): 4  6   <6>  
Brooklyn Bridge–City Hall (express): 4  5  
Track layout
Express tracks descend
to lower level
Upper level, existing track
Upper level, former track
Lower level, existing track

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

Track layoutEdit

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 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 station was first proposed in March 1913 as part of the Dual Contracts.[42] As originally proposed, it ran diagonally under the former Children's Hospital on the north side of 42nd Street east of Park Avenue. The route would connect the original subway under Park Avenue, on the west, to the new line under Lexington Avenue, on the east, at a point between 43rd and 44th Streets. In April 1913 the plan was modified to run diagonally between Park Avenue just south of 42nd Street to Lexington Avenue near 43rd Street.[65] The new alignment also ran under the Grand Union Hotel at the southeast corner of 42nd Street and Park Avenue.[66] The Public Service Commission voted on the modification in June 1913.[67] A modified route that instead made an S-curve under 40th Street was adopted that November.[68]

The Commission voted in favor of the original diagonal route in February 1914,[69] at which point the Grand Union Hotel was condemned via eminent domain.[70] The condemnation proceedings for the hotel cost $3.5 million, then a very high sum.[71] To pay the station's construction cost, the Public Service Commission approved the construction of a 25-story building above the station.[72] The station opened on July 17, 1918.[63] The structure was not erected as proposed; it would later become the Pershing Square Building, which opened in 1923.[73]

In 1955, the New York City Transit Authority had a scheme to make a lower level to the station, also of four tracks.[74] 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.

Image galleryEdit

IRT Flushing Line platformEdit

 Grand Central–42 Street
  New York City Subway station (rapid transit)
View from the end of the platform, looking west
Station statistics
DivisionA (IRT)
Line   IRT Flushing Line
Services   7   (all times) <7>   (rush hours until 9:30 p.m., peak direction)​
Platforms1 island platform
Other information
OpenedJune 22, 1915; 105 years ago (1915-06-22)[1]
Station code465[2]
Accessible  ADA-accessible (transfer to 42nd Street Shuttle not accessible)
Wireless service [3]
Opposite-direction transfer availableYes
Former/other names42nd Street–Grand Central
Station succession
Next eastVernon Boulevard–Jackson Avenue: 7   <7>  
Next   eastCourt Square: 7   <7>  
Next westFifth Avenue: 7   <7>  
Next   westTimes Square–42nd Street: 7   <7>  
Track layout
Trolley loop
to 5 Av

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

There is a large arched ceiling, similar to other deep-level stations in the system and in other parts of the world. 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.

The light and signage fixture that runs along the length of the platform is an art installation, entitled V-Beam, designed by Christopher Sproat.


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.[43] 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.[75] The third is between the tracks and is a pump room. Parts of the loop were converted into CBTC circuit breaker rooms.[76]

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.[77]

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.[78]

Image galleryEdit

IRT Third Avenue Line transfersEdit

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 IRT Second Avenue Line, 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.[79]

Foiled terrorist attackEdit

Najibullah Zazi and alleged co-conspirators were arrested in September 2009 as part of an al-Qaeda Islamist plan to engage in suicide bombings on trains in the New York City subway system, including near the Grand Central station and the Times Square–42nd Street/Port Authority Bus Terminal station during rush hour that month, and Zazi has pleaded guilty.[80][81][82][83]


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Further readingEdit

  • Stookey, Lee (1994). Subway ceramics : a history and iconography of mosaic and bas relief signs and plaques in the New York City subway system. Brattleboro, Vt: L. Stookey. ISBN 978-0-9635486-1-0. OCLC 31901471.

External linksEdit

  Media related to Grand Central – 42nd Street (New York City Subway) at Wikimedia Commons

Google Maps Street View
  43rd Street and Lexington Avenue entrance via Hyatt Hotel
  42nd Street and Lexington Avenue entrance (NW corner)
  42nd Street and Lexington Avenue entrance (NE corner)
  42nd Street and Lexington Avenue entrance (SE corner)
  42nd Street and Third Avenue entrance
  42nd Street and Vanderbilt Avenue entrance
  42nd Street and Vanderbilt Avenue entrance in office building
  Ex-Bowery Savings Bank entrance
  Entrance between Madison Avenue and Fifth Avenue
  Park Avenue entrance
  Entrance in Grand Central Terminal
  Lexington Avenue Line platforms
  Flushing Line platform
  42nd Street Shuttle platforms