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14th Street–Union Square is a New York City Subway station complex shared by the IRT Lexington Avenue Line, the BMT Broadway Line, and the BMT Canarsie Line. It is located at the intersection of Fourth Avenue and 14th Street, underneath Union Square in Manhattan, and is served by:
- 4, 6, L, N, and Q trains at all times
- 5 and R trains at all times except late nights
- W trains weekdays
The station is an important interconnection point, as it is the only station where Canarsie Line riders can transfer to the heavily-used Lexington Avenue Line, and it is also the only station where Broadway Line riders coming in from Brooklyn can transfer to uptown express trains to business locations in east Midtown.
The station is also located on the border of several neighborhoods with popular business, residential and nightlife destination spots, including the East Village to the southeast, Greenwich Village to the south and southwest, Chelsea to the northwest, and both the Flatiron District and Gramercy to the north and northeast.
There are three originally separate stations here, which were combined sometime after unification of the subways in 1940. They now share a mezzanine, common entrance points, and unified signage.
IRT Lexington Avenue LineEdit
14th Street-Union Square on the IRT Lexington Avenue Line has four tracks and two island platforms. The uptown and downtown platforms are offset from each other and slightly curved. Gap-filling movable platforms are automatically operated via proximity sensors mounted on the outside wall when trains arrive. The station has two abandoned local side platforms; the nouthbound one is visible through windows, bordered with wide, bright red frames. It looks like this platform is being used as a utility chase. From the north end of the downtown platform's mezzanine one can see the abandoned southbound side platform through a hole in the plywood. The station's mezzanines are located over the platforms.
On August 28, 1991, an accident occurred just north of the station, killing five people in one of the worst wrecks since the Malbone Street Disaster of 1918. The train operator, Robert Ray, had been overshooting platforms on the entire run. Just north of 14th Street-Union Square the train was to be shifted to the local track due to repairs. He had been running the train at 40 mph (65 km/h) in a 10 mph (16 km/h) zone and took the switch so fast that only the front of the first car made the crossover. The third and fourth cars ended up perpendicular to the tracks, having sheared off support columns and split in half. The line suffered heavy damage and service was disrupted for six days (trains terminating at 59th street for the duration) as transit workers toiled around the clock to clean up the wreckage. The entire infrastructure, including signals, switches, track, roadbed, cabling, and 23 support columns needed to be replaced. The motorman was sentenced to 15 years in prison, but was set free in April 2001 for good behavior.
The wreck occurred between 18th Street station and 14th Street–Union Square on the downtown side at the entry to a former pocket track. Like 72nd Street on the IRT Broadway-Seventh Avenue Line, 14th Street–Union Square was built with extra tracks on the approach to the station. These were between the incoming local and express track and were one old IRT train length long. The idea was to have a 'stacking' track where a train could be held momentarily until the platform cleared for it to enter the station. The tracks here and at 72nd Street were rendered useless when train lengths grew beyond their capacity. When the damage from the 1991 wreck was repaired, the stacking track was removed, but the crossover was not made gentler.
BMT Broadway LineEdit
14th Street-Union Square on the BMT Broadway Line has four tracks and two island platforms. It is the southernmost station in Manhattan with a cross-platform transfer between the Broadway services. A mosaic on the platform side walls is a depiction of "the junction of Broadway and the Bowery Road, 1828," as the area was once known. The mezzanine level has been reconstructed as well. Some former passageways and stairways have been closed off, including one immediately adjacent to the southernmost staircase on the northbound side. There are crossovers on the mezzanine to the 4, 5, 6, and L lines for easy transfers.
This station was overhaul in the late 1970s. MTA did fix the station's structure and the overhaul appearance. It replaces the original wall tiles, old signs, and incandescent lighting to the 70's modern look wall tile band and tablet mosaics, signs and fluorescent lights. It also fixed staircases and platform edges. In 2002, the station was receiving a major overhaul period. It was received state of repairs as well as upgrading the station for ADA compliance and restoring the original late 1910s tiling. MTA did repair the staircases, re-tiling for the walls, new tiling on the floors, upgrading the station's lights and the public address system, installing ADA yellow safety threads along the platform edge, new signs, and new trackbeds in both directions. The station now has a elevator on both sides of the platform as well as connection to the station entrance and transferring to the IRT Lexington Avenue Line.
In 2005, the artwork was installed here in the station, it is called City Glow by Chiho Aoshima.
BMT Canarsie LineEdit
Union Square on BMT Canarsie Line station has two tracks and one island platform, with numerous stairways and exits leading from it. There is one mezzanine attached to this station with entrances on the south side of 14th Street between Broadway and University Place. Other entrances around Union Square serve the other lines. The original mosaic band of sky blue, sea green, lime green and yellow ochre stands clearly visible above new green-bordered tile panels. The station has been renovated and is now ADA-compliant.
- Station Reporter — 14th Street–Union Square Complex