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The IRT Fluhing Line is used by the 7 and 7X

The Flushing Line is a rapid transit route of the New York City Subway system, operated as part of the IRT Division and designated the 3 route. It runs from Flushing in Queens to Times Square in Manhattan, carrying trains of the 3 local service (as well as the express <7> rush hours in the peak direction), and is assigned the color purple. Before the line was opened all the way to Flushing, it was known as the Corona Line or Woodside and Corona Line. Prior to the discontinuance of BMT services in 1949, the portion of the IRT Flushing Line between Times Square and Queensboro Plaza was known as the Queensboro Line. Express trains run to Manhattan from 06:30 to 12:30 and from Manhattan from 12:30 to 22:00. Some express trains run especially for New York Mets and U.S. Open games.

Diverse ridership and national recognitionEdit

The 8 mile (12.9 km) line runs through some of the most ethnically diverse areas in the world. The line's Flushing terminus in large Chinatown and Koreatown areas has, at one time, earned it the nickname of the Orient Express, after the famed Paris-Istanbul train. It is now nicknamed the "International Express" because of the diversity of the population of the communities it serves. It is also famous for being the official train of the New York Mets and the US Open (tennis) as both are located at Willets Point–Shea Stadium station, which serves Shea Stadium, Louis Armstrong Stadium and Arthur Ashe Stadium in Flushing Meadows-Corona Park. The line also serves Little India in the neighborhood of Jackson Heights and the P.S.1 Contemporary Art Center in Long Island City.

In 1999, the Flushing Line was designated a National Millennium Trail (along with the Appalachian Trail and 14 others) by a joint program of the White House Millennium Council, the United States Department of Transportation, and the Rails-to-Trails Conservancy. It was chosen as a representative of the immigrant experience, and because the approximate path of the Flushing Line has been in continuous use as a transportation route since the 17th century.

In 2000, Atlanta Braves baseball pitcher John Rocker was quoted by Sports Illustrated to have said:

It's [New York City] the most hectic, nerve-racking city. Imagine having to take the 7 train to the ballpark, looking like you're riding through Beirut next to some kid with purple hair next to some queer with AIDS right next to some dude who just got out of jail for the fourth time right next to some twenty-year-old mom with four kids. It's depressing."

When it became clear that Rocker was serious, New York Mets fans — and fans nationwide — booed Rocker so consistently that it affected his performance. After brief stints with other teams, he was out of the major leagues.

The Flushing Line has various styles of architecture, which range from steel girder elevated structures to European-style concrete viaducts. The underground stations have some unique designs as well, such as Hunters Point Avenue, which is in an Italianate style and 42nd Street–Grand Central, which is a single round tube similar to a London Underground station.

Extent and serviceEdit

The line has two distinct sections, split by the Queensboro Plaza station. It begins as a three-track subway, with the center track used for express service, at Main Street–Flushing. It quickly leaves the ground onto a steel elevated structure above Roosevelt Avenue, passing Shea Stadium and the USTA National Tennis Center. A flying junction between Willets Point–Shea Stadium and 111th Street provides access to Corona Yard from the local tracks. At 48th Street in Sunnyside, the line switches to Queens Boulevard and an ornate concrete viaduct begins. The express track ends between 33rd Street–Rawson Street and Queensboro Plaza.

At Queensboro Plaza, the eastbound track (railroad north) is above the westbound track, with both Flushing Line tracks on the south side of the island platforms. On the north side of these platforms is the BMT Astoria Line. East of this point, both the Flushing Line and the Astoria Line were operated by the IRT and the BMT; details on that dual operation are in the Background section. Connections still exist between the eastbound tracks just east of the platforms, but they cannot be used for revenue service because BMT trains are wider than IRT trains. This is the only track connection between the Flushing Line and the rest of the subway system.

West of Queensboro Plaza, the line immediately turns south onto an elevated structure over 23rd Street. It heads into the west end of Amtrak's Sunnyside Yard, and passes through two underground stations before entering Manhattan via the Steinway Tunnel under the East River. In Manhattan, the line runs under 42nd Street, with part directly underneath the Times Square–42nd Street Shuttle (S  ), before angling towards 41st Street and ending at the huge Times Square-42nd Street station, with no track connections to other lines.

Plans are underway to extend the Flushing Line west to Manhattan's Far West Side. A decommissioned lower level at the IND Eighth Avenue Line's 42nd Street–Port Authority Bus Terminal station blocks the way; it has been rumored that the IND built it to keep the IRT from extending the Flushing Line, although all initial blueprints indicate that the IRT never planned such an expansion. While some have questioned the necessity of the plan, with London receiving the 2012 Summer Olympics, as of mid-2006 the plan is still going forward, with bids for tunneling contracts to commence before the end of 2006.

The Flushing Line is one of only two New York City non-shuttle subway lines that hosts only a single service and does not share operating trackage with any other line or service; the other is the BMT Canarsie Line, carrying the L service. Because of this, there are plans to use new trains with Communication Based Train Control on the line, similar to the current project on the BMT Canarsie Line.

The IRT Flushing Line has the distinction of running the longest trains on the New York subway, by number of cars. Flushing Line trains are 11 cars long; most other New York City subway lines run 10-car or 8-car trains. The trains are not the longest by total length, however, as an IND/BMT 10-car train is still 39 feet longer than an 11-car IRT train.

Service disruptions Edit

Since 2002, a major rehabilitation project has been taking place over the entire line. Because of this, the 3 service has been subject to off-peak service changes. This includes express service in one direction—skipping certain local stations in that direction while serving them in the other—as well as suspension of service either south of Queensboro Plaza or north of 61st Street. During the latter change (typically on rotating weekends), shuttle buses and the 42nd Street Shuttle serve closed stations.

No General Orders are scheduled during games at Shea Stadium or the U.S. Open.



Even though subway service started in 1915, construction on the portion of the line that ran under the East River was originally started by the East River Tunnel Railroad on February 25, 1885. The original intent of the line was to connect the Long Island Rail Road with the New York Central Railroad, one end of the tunnel being at the terminal of each railroad. Other than an engineering survey of the East River at the tunnel site, nothing else was done, and in 1887, the company reorganized as the New York and Long Island Railroad. The tunnel was planned to run from approximately 42nd Street and Tenth Avenue, under 42nd Street, then under the East River to Van Alst (now 21st) Avenue. The rest of the line in Queens would be on private right-of-way, and various mappings were planned and revised for this section of route.

Various problems occurred and caused extensive delays and cost overruns. William Steinway, founder of the Steinway & Sons, became involved in 1890, and the tunnel was popularly known as the Steinway Tunnel. He felt that controlling operations of the tunnel company would boost the value of his real estate and envisioned operating the tunnels using electricity. On June 3, 1892, groundbreaking occurred at 50th Avenue between Vernon and Jackson Avenues in Queens. However, a series of mishaps, such as an underground water spring that hampered debris removal, followed by lawsuits by property owners along the line, forced the company to board up the tunnel on February 2, 1893. Various attempts to restart the project between 1893 and 1896 (when Steinway died), and proposals to extend the line into New Jersey, all failed.

In February 1902, August Belmont, Jr. became interested in the project, which became known as the Belmont Tunnel, although Belmont preferred the project be known as the Steinway Tunnel. By May 16, 1907, the north (westbound) tube was broken through, and the south tunnel was broken through on August 7 of the same year. The landfill from the tunnel excavations had been used to construct nearby Belmont Island, later called U Thant Island, on an existing outcrop in the East River.

Because the Pennsylvania Railroad planned to build a very large station at 32nd and 33rd Streets on the West Side, and also planned to tunnel under the Hudson and East Rivers, the motive power for the tunnels was changed to interurban trolley cars. However, because of the low clearance of the tunnels, typical trolley wire could not be used; instead, overhead third rail was hung from the roof of the tunnel using special brackets. The Van Alst Avenue station was originally on a loop at the end of a 50-foot (15-meter) radius curve located near 50th Avenue and Van Alst Avenue. At 42nd Street–Grand Central, there was another loop located under Park Avenue and 42nd Street. The tunnel officially opened on September 24 for Belmont, the Mayor and other officials. However, because Belmont did not have a franchise to operate the line, or a company to run it (because of litigation with New York City), he was forced to board up the tunnel. From October 23, 1907 until 1915, the completed tunnel was idle of traffic.

On April 3, 1913, the City of New York purchased the tunnels from Belmont as part of the Dual Contracts for $3 million, and the tunnels were placed under IRT operation. With minor modifications, the tunnel could accommodate subway trains. Because of the steep grade of the tunnels, special "Steinway" cars were built to run on the line. With the conversion to rapid transit, the loops on both ends of the Steinway tunnels were abandoned. No vestiges of the Queens loop remain today as the Hunters Point Avenue station occupies the site. Remnants of the Manhattan loop still exist, but are occupied by machinery and not accessible by passengers. The Manhattan loop is just west of the current 42nd Street–Grand Central station. IRT "Steinway" cars made the first test trip on June 13, 1915. Regularly scheduled subway service began on the line, then known as the Queensboro Tunnel, from Grand Central to Vernon Boulevard–Jackson Avenue at noon on June 22, 1915.

Extensions soon opened east to Hunters Point Avenue on February 15, 1916, and further east to Queensboro Plaza on November 5, 1916.

At Queensboro Plaza, the line met the BMT's 60th Street Tunnel, as well as a spur from the elevated IRT Second Avenue Line on the Queensboro Bridge. From this point east, the Flushing and Astoria Lines were built by the City of New York as part of the Dual Contracts. They were officially IRT lines on which the BMT held irrevocable and equal trackage rights. Because BMT trains were wider, and the platforms had been built for the IRT, normal BMT trains ran only to Queensboro Plaza, with a transfer to shuttles, using elevated cars, that alternated between the Ditmars Boulevard–Astoria and Main Street–Flushing terminals. IRT trains simply continued from the Queensboro Line and Queensboro Bridge onto the lines to Astoria and Flushing, originally called the Corona Line or Woodside and Corona Line before it was completed to Main Street–Flushing.

The line was opened from Queensboro Plaza to 103rd Street–Corona Plaza on April 21, 1917. BMT shuttles began to use the line (and the BMT Astoria Line) on April 8, 1923. East of there, sources conflict on when each section opened. A New York Times article from May 8 reports that service began on May 7 to Willets Point station, and mentions delays due to the structure sinking. Articles from May 13 and May 15 cover a celebration to coincide with the opening to the Willets Point stop on May 14. Finally, a January 22, 1928 article reports that the line had ended at 103rd Street-Corona Plaza until January 21; the extension had been finished over a year earlier but had to be strengthened due to structural problems.

Main Street–Flushing was not originally intended to be the end of the line. The Public Service Commission, in June 1913, was actively engaged in considering extensions of the line beyond Flushing, but these extensions, later planned as part of the IND Second System, were never built.

Currently and historically, IRT subway services on the Flushing Line were assigned the number 3, though this did not appear on any equipment until the introduction of the R12 class cars in 1948. The BMT services were assigned the BMT number 9, used on maps but not trains.

Western extensions were also built, with part underneath the Times Square-Grand Central Shuttle:

For the 1939 New York World's Fair, the Willets Point station was rebuilt and centered on 123rd Street, just west of where the station originally lay. Some remnants of the old station are still visible; ironwork tends to indicate where the older outside-platform stations were, and the remains of the fare entry area can be seen east of the current station. The original Willets Point Boulevard station was a "minor" stop on the Flushing Line; it had only two stairways and short station canopies at platform level. It was rebuilt into the much larger station in use today, and the ramp used during two World's Fairs still exists, but is only used during special events, such as the US Open (tennis). Express service to the World's Fair began on the Flushing Line on April 24, 1939. This was the first time the middle express track had been used for revenue service; prior to the fair, the express track had only been used for non-revenue moves and re-routes during construction.

Rolling stock on the line for World's FairsEdit

In 1938, an order of all-new World's Fair cars was placed with the St. Louis Car Company. These cars broke from IRT "tradition" in that they did not have vestibules at each car end. In addition, because the IRT was bankrupt at the time, the cars were built as single ended cars, with train controls for the motorman on one side and door controls for the conductor on the other. These cars spent their last days on the elevated IRT Third Avenue Line in The Bronx.

Not to be outdone, BMT rebuilt 90 open gate cars into closed-end cars that became known as the Q Types (named because they operated in Queens). The Q Types were built as three car sets, and only the cars at the ends were fitted with traction motors and motorman controls. For the World's Fair, the equipment was repainted in the now famous blue and orange, the World's Fair colors. In 1949, nine years after the closing of the Fair, the BMT Q Types were moved to the elevated IRT Third Avenue Line in Manhattan using old IRT Composite car trucks, and ran only as expresses, because their weight was a bit too high for the older, local tracks. Therefore, the last BMT-designed car ran on the last IRT elevated in Manhattan. Like BMT Q-types replacing the older gate cars that rode on the line for the opening of the 1939 New York World's Fair, the procedure would be repeated again when, in 1964, the picture window R36 World's Fair cars replaced the older R15's for the 1964 New York World's Fair.

Service curtailments in the 1940s & 50sEdit

In 1942, when IRT Second Avenue Line service ended, major overhauls for the Corona fleet were transferred to the Coney Island shop. In addition, free transfers to the IRT Third Avenue Line were offered at 42nd Street–Grand Central from June 13, 1942 (when IRT Second Avenue Line service ended, including the Queensboro Bridge connection) until May 12, 1955 (when IRT Third Avenue Line service ended). In the fall of 1949, the joint BMT/IRT service arrangement ended. The Flushing Line became the responsibility of IRT. The Astoria Line had its platforms shaved back, and became BMT-only. Because of this, routes through the then eight-track Queensboro Plaza station were consolidated and the northern half of the structure was torn down. Evidence of where the torn-down platforms were, as well as the trackways that approached this area, can still be seen in the ironwork at the station. The Flushing Line's extra-long platforms, which allow for 11-car operation, are also a remnant of the joint service period.

R33/R36 World's Fair cars have served the Flushing Line exclusively since 1964. However, most have been scrapped and sunk in the Atlantic Ocean as artificial barrier and coral {{subst:Wikipedia reference 2|reef|reefs]]. On November 3, 2003, the last Redbird train made its final scheduled trip on this line, making all stops between Times Square and Shea Stadium. Replacing these cars on this line are the Bombardier built R62As.

Station listingEdit

Station Tracks Services Opened Notes
Main Street–Flushing all 7 always, Template:NYCS Flushing express rush hours in peak direction January 21, 1928 connection to Long Island Rail Road at Flushing-Main Street
originally Main Street
Willets Point–Shea Stadium all 7 always, Template:NYCS Flushing express rush hours in peak direction January 21, 1928 connection to Long Island Rail Road at Shea Stadium
originally Willets Point Boulevard
111th Street local 7 always January 21, 1928
103rd Street–Corona Plaza local 7 always April 21, 1917 originally Alburtis Avenue
Junction Boulevard all 7 always, Template:NYCS Flushing express rush hours in peak direction April 21, 1917 originally Junction Avenue
90th Street–Elmhurst Avenue local 7 always April 21, 1917 originally Elmhurst Avenue
82nd Street–Jackson Heights local 7 always April 21, 1917 originally 25th Street-Jackson Heights
74th Street–Broadway local 7 always April 21, 1917 free transfer to E F G

  R   V   (IND Queens Boulevard Line)
originally Broadway

69th Street local 7 always April 21, 1917 originally Fisk Avenue
61st Street–Woodside all 7 always, Template:NYCS Flushing express rush hours in peak direction April 21, 1917 transfer to Long Island Rail Road at Woodside
originally Woodside
52nd Street–Lincoln Avenue local 7 always April 21, 1917 originally Lincoln Avenue
46th Street–Bliss Street local 7 always April 21, 1917 originally Bliss Street
40th Street–Lowery Street local 7 always April 21, 1917 originally Lowery Street
33rd Street–Rawson Street local 7 always April 21, 1917 originally Rawson Street
Queensboro Plaza all 7 always, Template:NYCS Flushing express rush hours in peak direction November 5, 1916 free transfer to N W

  (BMT Astoria Line)

45th Road–Court House Square all 7 always, Template:NYCS Flushing express rush hours in peak direction November 5, 1916 free MetroCard-only transfer to G (IND Crosstown Line)
free MetroCard-only transfer to E V

  (IND Queens Boulevard Line)

Hunters Point Avenue all 7 always, Template:NYCS Flushing express rush hours in peak direction February 15, 1916 connection to Long Island Rail Road at Hunterspoint Avenue
originally 49th Avenue
Vernon Boulevard–Jackson Avenue all 7 always, Template:NYCS Flushing express rush hours in peak direction June 22, 1915 connection to Long Island Rail Road at Long Island City station (for Lower Montauk Branch trains)
42nd Street–Grand Central all 7 always, Template:NYCS Flushing express rush hours in peak direction June 22, 1915 free transfer to 4 5

  6 <6>   (IRT Lexington Avenue Line)
free transfer to S   (IRT 42nd Street Shuttle)
connection to Metro-North Railroad at Grand Central Terminal
originally Grand Central

Fifth Avenue–Bryant Park all 7 always, Template:NYCS Flushing express rush hours in peak direction March 22, 1926 free transfer to B

  D F V   (Sixth Avenue Line)

Times Square–42nd Street all 7 always, 7 <7> 

  rush hours in peak direction

March 14, 1927 free transfer to N Q R

  W   (BMT Broadway Line)
free transfer to 1 2 3   (IRT Broadway-Seventh Avenue Line)
free transfer to A C    E (IND Eighth Avenue Line)
free transfer to S   (IRT 42nd Street Shuttle)
connection to Port Authority Bus Terminal
originally Times Square

External linksEdit


  • Queensboro Tunnel Officially Opened, New York Times June 23, 1915 page 22
  • Subway Extension Open, New York Times February 16, 1916 page 22
  • New Subway Link, New York Times November 5, 1916 page XX4
  • Transit Service on Corona Extension of Dual Subway System Opened to the Public, New York Times April 22, 1917 page RE1
  • Additional Subway Service to Borough of Queens, New York Times April 8, 1923 page RE1
  • Fifth Av. Station of Subway Opened, New York Times March 23, 1926 page 29
  • New Queens Subway Opened to Times Sq, New York Times March 15, 1927 page 1
  • Corona Subway Extended, New York Times May 8, 1927 page 26
  • Flushing to Celebrate, New York Times May 13, 1927 page 8
  • Dual Queens Celebration, New York Times May 15, 1927 page 3
  • Flushing Extension of Corona Subway Ready to Open, New York Times January 8, 1928 page 189
  • Flushing Line Opens Jan. 21, New York Times January 12, 1928 page 12
  • Flushing Rejoices as Subway Opens, New York Times January 22, 1928 page 28

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New York City Subway Lines
IRT Manhattan: 42nd St ShuttleBroadway-7th AvLenox AvLexington Av
Bronx: Dyre AvJerome AvPelhamWhite Plains Rd
Brooklyn/Queens: Eastern PkwyFlushingNostrand Av
Former: 2nd Av3rd Av6th Av9th Av
BMT Manhattan trunks and branches: 63rd StAstoriaBroadwayManhattan BridgeNassau St
Eastern Division: Archer AvCanarsieJamaicaMyrtle Av
Southern Division: 4th AvBrightonCulverFranklin AvSea BeachWest End
Former: 3rd Av5th AvBrooklyn BridgeFulton StLexington Av
IND Manhattan/Bronx trunks: 6th Av8th AvConcourse
Brooklyn/Queens: 63rd StArcher AvCrosstownCulverFulton StRockawayQueens Blvd
Former: World's Fair
Connections Chrystie St60th St
Future 2nd Av

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