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Lexington Avenue–59th Street is a New York City Subway station complex shared by the IRT Lexington Avenue Line and the BMT Broadway Line. Located at Lexington Avenue between 59th and 60th Streets, on the border of Midtown and the Upper East Side of Manhattan, it is served by:
IRT Lexington Avenue LineEdit
59th Street on the IRT Lexington Avenue Line has four side platforms, two on the upper level for local trains, and two on the lower level for express trains. Two other levels exist between the IRT platforms — the BMT Broadway Line platforms under the local level, and a mezzanine between the BMT and express levels. Long escalators connect the local and express levels directly.
The station originally served local trains only. The express platforms opened in 1962 to reduce congestion at 42nd Street–Grand Central (from people switching between local and express trains and to the 42nd Street Shuttle), and to allow transfers between the express tracks and the BMT Broadway Line to Queens. Even before the express platforms were added, the station was the busiest on the line.
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 stylised mosaics of coffee cups and slippers in varied colors at random spacing near the stairways to the Broadway and IRT local trains. This station is currently being renovated in conjunection with recent construction of the Bloomberg Building 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.
The mezzanine between Lexington Avenue express platforms and the Broadway platforms has a large-scale mosaic mural entitled Blooming, by Elizabeth Murray. It covers all four walls of the mezzanine area. 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 discipline of the whirlwind". The text floats from the coffee cups and are excerpted from poetry by Delmore Schwartz and Gwendolyn Brooks.
There is a direct exit to Bloomingdale's from the uptown local fare control. The underpass near the south end of the station was originally the northbound platform for the extension of the BMT Broadway Line to Queens. The 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.
BMT Broadway LineEdit
Lexington Avenue–59th Street on the BMT Broadway Line has two tracks, one side platform, and two mezzanines. The Lexington Avenue mezzanine has two staircases to each of the Lexington Avenue Line 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 the Bowling Green station 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-arranges 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 was receiving a major overhaul. 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 could not be made ADA-compliant to install elevators on the platform, because the platform columns on the Lexington Avenue side make the platform too narrow for a wheelchair to navigate.
The center level is the nerve center of this vital complex, and is located at the 60th Street/Lexington Avenue end. Installed in conjunction with the 1962 opening of the lower level express platforms, it makes a seamless and easy transfer between all lines from the three different areas mentioned above. There are three staircases up to the Broadway Line platform, two down to each of the lower level Lexington Avenue Line express platforms, and one staircase and escalator up to the Lexington Avenue local platforms on the upper level.
In the same area on the north wall, there is artwork. Titled Blooming (1996) by Elizabeth Murray, it uses glass mosaics to cover the entire wall. It relates to the former neighborhood name Bloomingdale, long before the department store of the same name opened. It is a fantasy of trees, a pair of shoes, and yellow mugs filled with coffee, complete with stream rising.
- "East Side Subway to Get Express Stop at 59th St.", New York Times; April 8, 1959; page 1
- "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
- nycsubway.org — IRT East Side Line: 59th Street
- nycsubway.org — BMT Broadway Subway: Lexington Avenue (59th Street)
- Station Reporter — 59th Street and Lexington Avenue Complex