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This is the station complex for Chinatown. If you are looking for the IND Eighth Avenue station on Canal Street and Sixth Avenue, see this. If you are looking for the IRT Broadway-Seventh Avenue station on Canal and Varick Streets, see this.
Canal Street is a New York City Subway station complex in the Manhattan neighborhood of Chinatown, shared by the IRT Lexington Avenue Line, the BMT Nassau Street Line, and the BMT Broadway Line. It is served by:
- 3, J, N and Q trains at all times
- R train all times except late nights
- M trains weekdays
- Z trains rush hours in the peak direction
- 3 trains late nights
The complex consists of four originally separate stations joined by underground passageways. Three of the four are perpendicular to Canal Street, crossing at Broadway (Broadway Main Line platforms), Lafayette Street (Lexington Avenue Line platforms) and Centre Street (Nassau Street Line platforms). The Broadway Manhattan Bridge Line platforms run parallel to, and directly underneath, Canal Street itself.
This complex was fully renovated between 1999 and 2004. The Broadway Main Line station was restored to the original look, with new mosaics featuring Chinese characters, reflecting the station's location in Chinatown. The symbols on the red wall plaques mean "money" and "luck," and the "Canal Street" name tablet has ideographs that actually read "China" and "Town." During the most recent renovation in the 1990s, the original mosaics were uncovered but then either removed or covered over again. One of original tablets has been preserved at the New York Transit Museum.
Some relative depths of the stations in the Canal Street complex are as follows:
- IRT Lexington Avenue Line, 20 feet below street
- BMT Nassau Street Line, 20 feet (same level as IRT Lexington Avenue Line)
- BMT Broadway Line, main branch, 40 feet below street
- BMT Broadway Line, Manhattan Bridge branch, 50 feet below street
IRT Lexington Avenue Line platforms
Canal Street on the IRT Lexington Avenue Line has four tracks and two side platforms. Due to platform lengthening in the 1940s and 1950s, there are two distinct sections of this station. The original portion has tile-covered I-beams with small and large mosaics and an ornamental ceiling. The newer portion has 1950s green tile at the ends of the platforms. There are also IND-type "To Canal Street" signs. New lights are being installed. Non-original name tables and small "C" mosaics exist.
BMT Nassau Street Line platforms
Canal Street on the BMT Nassau Street Line has three tracks and two island platforms, but only the western island platform is accessible to passengers. Formerly, Canal Street resembled the typical express station, except that the inner "express" tracks dead-ended at the south end of the station, with a platform-level connection joining the southern ends of the two platforms. These stub-end tracks were occasionally used to terminate trains, most recently a weekend J service in the late 1980s.
After a reconfiguration of the Nassau Street Line, completed in 2004, the eastern (former "northbound") platform was abandoned. The platform-level connection was removed, allowing the former southbound express track to run through to Chambers Street and beyond. Today, the westernmost (former "southbound") platform remains in operation. Both tracks provide through service, with southbound traffic using the former southbound "local" track and northbound traffic using the former southbound "express" track. The former northbound local track is now used only for non-revenue moves, train storage and emergencies; the northbound express stub track has been removed; the now unused northbound island platform is a storage area.
In the renovation, the original "Canal Street" mosaics were restored, and new wall and floor tiling were installed.
BMT Broadway Main Line
Canal Street on the BMT Broadway Main Line has four tracks and two side platforms. However, only the local tracks provide through service on the BMT Broadway Line; the "express" tracks, which have never seen revenue service, begin at the lower level of City Hall station and run north to Canal Street, dead-ending about two-thirds of the way through. As part of the Dual Contracts, these express tracks were to have continued up Broadway, fed by traffic from Brooklyn via the Montague Street Tunnel; local service was to have terminated at the upper level of City Hall. That plan was dropped in favor of local service via City Hall upper level and Montague Street and express service via the Manhattan Bridge. Today, just north of this station, the tracks from the south side of the Manhattan Bridge rise up and replace the stub-end express tracks from City Hall lower level.
BMT Broadway Manhattan Bridge Line
Canal Street on the BMT Broadway Manhattan Bridge line has two tracks and two side platforms. When it originally opened, this station was known as Broadway. Although technically located on the BMT Broadway Line, it was originally a distinct station from the main line. Located on a lower level and oriented perpendicular to the other station, it is fed by northbound rail traffic from the south tracks of the Manhattan Bridge and by southbound express service from the Broadway Line. Under the Dual Contracts, this station was meant to be part of a crosstown line under Canal Street, running from the Manhattan Bridge to the Hudson River; however, prior to the opening of the Broadway Line, the BMT decided to route Manhattan Bridge traffic to the Broadway express tracks instead. A short section of tunnel heading westward from the west end of the station is a remnant from the original plans.
For several years during the Manhattan Bridge reconstruction project, this station was temporarily abandoned, and only used as part of the transfer between the Broadway local station and the Nassau Street station. For a short time in 1997, during one of these periods of closure, an art exhibit known as the Canal Street Canal, by artist Alexander Brodsky, was installed on the northbound trackway. It involved installation of a large waterproof tub filled with water, with Venetian canal boats floating inside. The station reopened on July 22, 2001.
- IRT East Side Line: Canal Street
- BMT Nassau St./Jamaica Line: Canal Street
- BMT Broadway Subway: Canal Street
- Early Rapid Transit in Brooklyn, 1878 to 1913
- "Broadway Subway Now Open", Public Service Record, Volume IV, Number 9: September 1917
- Opening of the Broadway Subway, a collection of The New York Times articles from 1918 regarding the then-new BMT Broadway Line
- Station Reporter — Canal Street Complex