Lexington Avenue/59th Street station

Lexington Avenue/59th Street is a New York City Subway station complex shared by the IRT Lexington Avenue Line and the BMT Broadway Line. It is located at Lexington Avenue between 59th and 60th Streets, on the border of Midtown and the Upper East Side of Manhattan. The station complex is the fourteenth-busiest in the system, with over 21 million passengers in 2016.[4]

 Lexington Avenue/59 Street
 "4" train"5" train"6" train"6" express train"N" train"R" train"W" train
MTA NYC logo.svg New York City Subway station complex
Lex Ave-59th Street Entrance.JPG
Street stair by southeast corner of 59th Street and Lexington Avenue (The Q train served this station during the W's discontinuation from 2010-2016)
Station statistics
AddressEast 59th Street & Lexington Avenue
New York, NY 10022
LocaleMidtown Manhattan, Upper East Side
Coordinates40°45′45″N 73°58′04″W / 40.762471°N 73.9679°W / 40.762471; -73.9679Coordinates: 40°45′45″N 73°58′04″W / 40.762471°N 73.9679°W / 40.762471; -73.9679
DivisionA (IRT), B (BMT)
Line      BMT Broadway 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)​
      N all times (all times)
      R all except late nights (all except late nights)
      W weekdays only (weekdays only)
System transfersWith MetroCard only:
      F all times (all times) <F> two rush hour trains, peak direction (two rush hour trains, peak direction)​​
      N limited weekday rush hour service only (limited weekday rush hour service only)
      Q all times (all times)
      R one a.m. rush hour trip in the northbound direction only (one a.m. rush hour trip in the northbound direction only) at Lexington Avenue–63rd Street
Transit connectionsBus transport NYCT Bus: M101, M102, M103, Q32
Bus transport MTA Bus: QM2, QM3, QM20
Other information
OpenedJuly 1, 1948; 72 years ago (1948-07-01)[1]
Station code613[2]
Accessiblenot ADA-accessible; accessibility planned
Wireless serviceWi-Fi and cellular service is provided at this station[3]
Passengers (2019)16,760,813[5]Decrease 1.1%
Rank15 out of 424[5]

Signed as 59th Street–Lexington Avenue, the complex is served by the:

  • 4, 6, and N trains at all times
  • W train on weekdays
  • 5 and R trains at all times except late nights
  • <6> express train during weekdays in peak direction

A free out-of-system MetroCard transfer is available to the 63rd Street Lines (F and Q trains, as well as rush-hour N and R, and evening and weekend M trains) by exiting the station and walking to the Lexington Avenue–63rd Street station.

Station layoutEdit

G Street level Exits/entrances, MetroCard connection to   ​​  at Lexington Avenue–63rd Street
B1 Third Avenue mezzanine Fare control, MetroCard machines, to Broadway Line platforms
Fare control, MetroCard machines, to northbound platforms and Bloomingdale's
Side platform
Northbound local    toward Pelham Bay Park or Parkchester (68th Street–Hunter College)
  toward Woodlawn late nights (68th Street–Hunter College)
Southbound local    toward Brooklyn Bridge (51st Street)
  toward New Lots Avenue late nights (51st Street)
Side platform
Fare control, MetroCard machines, to southbound platforms
B2 Crossunder Crossunder between local platforms
Southbound   toward Coney Island–Stillwell Avenue (Fifth Avenue–59th Street)
  toward Whitehall Street (Fifth Avenue–59th Street)
  toward Bay Ridge–95th Street (Fifth Avenue–59th Street)
Island platform
Northbound    toward Astoria–Ditmars Boulevard (Queensboro Plaza)
  toward Forest Hills–71st Avenue (Queens Plaza)
B3 Mezzanine Transfer between platforms
B4 Side platform
Northbound express   toward Woodlawn (86th Street)
  toward Eastchester–Dyre Avenue or Nereid Avenue (86th Street)
Southbound express   toward Utica Avenue (Grand Central–42nd Street)
  toward Flatbush Avenue weekdays, Bowling Green evenings/weekends (Grand Central–42nd Street)
Side platform

The center level is located at the 60th Street/Lexington Avenue end. Installed in conjunction with the 1962 opening of the lower level IRT express platforms, it allows transfer between all routes. There are three staircases up to the BMT platform, two down to each of the lower level IRT express platforms, and one staircase and escalator up to the IRT local platforms on the upper level.


The mezzanine between the IRT express platforms and the BMT platform has a large-scale mosaic mural entitled Blooming (1996), by Elizabeth Murray. It covers all four walls of the mezzanine area. It takes its name from the nearby Bloomingdale's department store.[6] The mosaic features larger versions of the coffee cups and slippers found on the platform walls, with the text: "In dreams begin responsibilities" and "Conduct your blooming in the noise and whip of the whirlwind". The text floats from the coffee cups and are excerpted from poetry by Delmore Schwartz and Gwendolyn Brooks. Additional, mini shoe mosaics can be found on the IRT express platforms.

This is one of two murals Murray made for MTA Arts & Design; the other, Stream, can be found at Court Square/23rd Street.

Entrances and exitsEdit

The complex has a total of 11 staircase entrances.[7]

Exit location Exit type Number of exits Platforms primarily served
NW corner of Lexington Avenue and 59th Street Staircase 1 Lexington Avenue Line (southbound)
SE corner of Lexington Avenue and 59th Street Staircase 1 Lexington Avenue Line (northbound)
Direct passageway
to Bloomingdale's
SW corner of Lexington Avenue and 59th Street Staircase 1 Lexington Avenue Line (southbound)
NE corner of Lexington Avenue and 60th Street Staircase 1 Broadway Line
Lexington Avenue Line (northbound)
NW corner of Lexington Avenue and 60th Street Staircase 1 Broadway Line
Lexington Avenue Line (southbound)
SE corner of Lexington Avenue and 60th Street Staircase 1 Broadway Line
Lexington Avenue Line (northbound)
SW corner of Lexington Avenue and 60th Street Staircase 1 Broadway Line
Lexington Avenue Line (southbound)
NE corner of Third Avenue and 60th Street Staircase 1 Broadway Line
NW corner of Third Avenue and 60th Street Staircase 1 Broadway Line
SE corner of Third Avenue and 60th Street Staircase 1 Broadway Line
SW corner of Third Avenue and 60th Street Staircase 1 Broadway Line

IRT Lexington Avenue Line platformsEdit

 59 Street
  New York City Subway station (rapid transit)
An uptown 6 train of R142A cars enters on the local platform
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)
Platforms4 side platforms (2 on each level)
Tracks4 (2 on each level)
Other information
OpenedJuly 17, 1918; 102 years ago (1918-07-17)[8] (upper level)
November 15, 1962; 57 years ago (1962-11-15) (lower level)[9]
Station code400[2]
Accessible  ADA-accessible to mezzanine only; accessibility to platforms planned (Elevator is present only for the local platform in the northbound direction during Bloomingdale's operating hours)
Wireless service [3]
Opposite-direction transfer availableYes
Station succession
Next north86th Street (express): 4  5  
68th Street–Hunter College (local): 4  6   <6>  
Next south51st Street (local): 4  6   <6>  
Grand Central–42nd Street (express): 4  5  
Track layout
Upper level
Lower level

59th Street on the IRT Lexington Avenue Line is an express station. It has two stacked levels, each of which has two tracks and two side platforms. The upper level is used by local trains, and the lower level is used by express trains. The levels are separated by the BMT Broadway Line's platform directly underneath the local platforms and a mezzanine between the BMT platform and the express level. Long escalators connect the local and express platforms directly.

Station mosaic name tablet on the upper level
Mosaic frieze on the upper level platform's wall

The station used to have all green tile which has been covered up except for one "59th Street" sign near the south end of the northbound platform. There are whimsical stylized mosaics of coffee cups and slippers in varied colors at random spacing near the stairways to the Broadway and IRT local trains. This station was renovated in conjunction with the construction of the Bloomberg Tower at 59th Street and Lexington Avenue. Although a new entrance was constructed within the building, it has remained closed due to fears of icicle formation on a railing that is part of the building's design, directly above the street entrance. A legal battle between the city and the building's management over who is responsible for modifying the design has caused the entrance to be temporarily closed between 2003 and 2006.

There is a direct exit to Bloomingdale's from the uptown local platform's fare control (this exit was used in the 2008 film Cloverfield). The underpass near the south end of the station was originally the northbound platform for the extension of the BMT Broadway Line to Queens. That line had been planned as two separate, one-track tunnels, one each under 59th and 60th Streets. Later on, it was decided to alter this layout in favor of a single two-track tunnel under 60th Street. The semi-completed platform under 59th Street was then converted to an underpass between the north and southbound platforms of the Lexington Avenue Line local tracks.

On the upper level, north of the station, there is a storage/lay up track between the two tracks. It ends at a bumper block at its north end. It merges with the two local tracks on its southern end.

In 2019, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority announced that the station would become ADA-accessible as part of the agency's 2020–2024 Capital Program.[10]

Addition of express platformsEdit

The station originally served local trains only.[11] On November 4, 1954, the New York City Transit Authority approved plans to convert 59th Street into an express station. The project was proposed by the executive director of the NYCTA, Sidney Bingham, to improve connections between the Lexington Avenue Line and the Broadway Line. Construction was expected to take two years and cost $5 million. The new express stop was expected to reduce transfer congestion at Grand Central–42nd Street.[12] Even before the express platforms were added, this station was the busiest on the line.[13]

Construction for the express station began on August 10, 1959. Along with the new express platforms, a new mezzanine was built above it to connect it to the local station, and the Broadway Line station. Two high speed escalators were added to connect the local and express platforms. Two additional high speed escalators were built to connect the local platforms with the new mezzanine. The express station opened three months earlier than originally planned. As part of the plan, the local platforms were extended to accommodate 10-car trains. In addition, new entrances and booths were added to the 59th Street ends of the northbound and southbound sides. The whole cost of the project was $6.5 million.[9] Work on the express station at 59th Street, required express trains to run local during late nights.[14] The express platforms were opened on November 15, 1962.[9]

Image galleryEdit

BMT Broadway Line platformEdit

 Lexington Avenue−59 Street
  New York City Subway station (rapid transit)
Platform view
Station statistics
DivisionB (BMT)
Line      BMT Broadway Line
Services      N   (all times)
      R   (all except late nights)
      W   (weekdays only)
Platforms1 island platform
Other information
OpenedSeptember 1, 1919; 101 years ago (1919-09-01)[15]
Station code008[2]
Accessiblenot ADA-accessible; accessibility planned
AccessibilitySame-platform wheelchair transfer available
Wireless service [3]
Opposite-direction transfer availableYes
Station succession
Next eastQueensboro Plaza (Astoria): N  W  
Queens Plaza (Queens Boulevard): R  
Next westFifth Avenue–59th Street: N  R  W  
Track layout

Lexington Avenue−59th Street on the BMT Broadway Line has two tracks and one island platform, and two mezzanines. The Lexington Avenue mezzanine has two staircases to each of the IRT local platforms, an escalator to the downtown platform, and three staircases down to the center level. The Third Avenue side was constructed in the late 1960s, with the same red tile that was used during renovation of Bowling Green in 1978. It has up and down escalators and an adjoining staircase, and is open part-time only, with four street staircases on Third Avenue. The new entrance is a result of the platform extension along the same side during the 1960s.

The distinctive "Lex" mosaics were preserved during the renovation, by installing pre-arranged blocks along the station wall that cup the Lexington Avenue Line above it. The wall tiles have the red "Lex" evenly spaced out, similar to the IND style, with blue background, green borders, and white lettering. In 2002, the station received a major overhaul. It received a state of repairs with the original late 1910s tiling being restored. The MTA repaired the staircases, re-tiled the walls, added new tiling on the floors, upgraded the station's lights and the public address system, and installed ADA yellow safety threads along the platform edge, new signs, and new trackbeds in both directions.[citation needed] Despite this, the project did not make the station ADA-accessible. In 2019, the MTA announced that the station would become ADA-accessible as part of the agency's 2020–2024 Capital Program.[10]

Despite its name, the station is located on Lexington Avenue and 60th Street, one block north of 59th Street. Originally, the Broadway subway was to run to Queens over the Queensboro Bridge. Because the side streets are so narrow, the Queens-bound track was to run under 59th Street and the downtown-bound track under 60th Street.[16] The Broadway subway plan was changed in 1915 to route both tracks into 60th Street and to cross the East River by a tunnel just north of the Queensboro Bridge. The 59th Street crossing was now useless, and at 60th Street, the subway would have to be at a lower grade on its way to the 60th Street Tunnel. The 59th Street crossing was converted into a pedestrian underpass for the IRT station, and is still in use for that purpose; its floor level is that of the never-completed BMT station. The 60th Street crossing was mostly destroyed when the existing station was built at a lower grade. A door in the southern wall across from the platform opens into a remaining unused space,[17] and suggests the platform level of the original grade, which is the same as the 59th Street underpass.


  1. ^ New York Times, Transfer Points Under Higher Fare, June 30, 1948, page 19
  2. ^ a b c "Station Developers' Information". Metropolitan Transportation Authority. Retrieved June 13, 2017.
  3. ^ a b c "NYC Subway Wireless – Active Stations". Transit Wireless Wifi. Retrieved November 13, 2019.
  4. ^ a b "Facts and Figures: Annual Subway Ridership 2014–2019". Metropolitan Transportation Authority. 2020. Retrieved May 26, 2020.
  5. ^ a b "Facts and Figures: Annual Subway Ridership 2014–2019". Metropolitan Transportation Authority. 2020. Retrieved May 26, 2020.
  6. ^ http://web.mta.info/mta/aft/permanentart/permart.html?agency=nyct&line=R&artist=1&station=5
  7. ^ "MTA Neighborhood Maps: Upper East Side (Yorkville, Central Park, Lenox Hill)" (PDF). mta.info. Metropolitan Transportation Authority. 2016. Retrieved December 30, 2016.
  8. ^ "Lexington Av. Line to be Opened Today" (PDF). The New York Times. July 17, 1918. p. 13. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved April 21, 2020.
  9. ^ a b c "New 59th Street Express Station brochure". www.thejoekorner.com. New York City Transit Authority. November 15, 1962. Retrieved January 25, 2016.
  10. ^ a b "Press Release - MTA Headquarters - MTA Announces 20 Additional Subway Stations to Receive Accessibility Improvements Under Proposed 2020-2024 Capital Plan". MTA. December 19, 2019. Retrieved December 24, 2019.
  11. ^ "East Side Subway to Get Express Stop at 59th St.", New York Times; April 8, 1959; page 1
  12. ^ Ingalls, Leonard (November 5, 1954). "East 59th Street I. R. T. Station To Be Express Stop in 2 Years; EAST 59TH ST. GETS I.R.T. EXPRESS STOP". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved March 29, 2018.
  13. ^ * "IRT Will Open Express Station at Lexington and 59th Thursday", New York Times; November 9, 1962; page 37
    • "IRT Express Stop Opens at 59th St.", New York Times; November 16, 1962; page 22
  14. ^ "IRT WILL CURTAIL EAST SIDE SERVICE". The New York Times. February 29, 1960. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved September 4, 2016.
  15. ^ New York Times, Subway to Open Two New Stations, August 31, 1919, page 25
  16. ^ Lexington Ave (BMT) unfinished platforms
  17. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on March 5, 2016. Retrieved November 30, 2016.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)

External linksEdit

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