Friday, October 19, 2007
Thanks to a Prodigal Borough blog post from Cid for alerting us to this fantastic news.
Excerpted from The Lower Manhattan Info Web Page:
A ride on the 1 train down to the end of the line is a one-of-a-kind New York subway experience. To exit the train at the South Ferry station, riders must be in the first five cars of the train, where they wait for retractable floor grates to close the gap between the doors and the sharply curved platform before heading up the stairs to use the station’s single exit.
This old-fashioned experience is about to become obsolete, as the Metropolitan Transportation Authority spends $450 million of the Federal Transit Administration’s post-9/11 funds to usher the original 1905 South Ferry station into the 21st century.
In August 2008, the South Ferry subway station -- now a small, curved platform -- will become a brighter, ADA-accessible terminal. The new station will accommodate 10-car trains and have multiple station entrances, including escalators and elevators.
Work on the revamped station began in late 2004, just as the finishing touches were being put on the neighboring Whitehall Ferry Terminal. The single greatest improvement of the new station is its new platform -- a standard, 10-car platform that’s as straight as an arrow and ADA-accessible. It will connect to the R and W trains at the Whitehall subway station and lead to three separate street exits: one near Whitehall, one at State Street, and one at the edge of Battery Park.
The first phase of construction is taking place in Peter Minuit Plaza, directly in front of the ferry terminal. The plaza is above the current subway station’s loop tracks (which enable the train to turn around), and there the MTA’s work crews are excavating the 50-foot-wide tunnel that will house the new station’s tracks.
In summer 2005, work began under the northeast section of Battery Park, where new tunnels are being opened and tracks laid. As part of the MTA’s commitment to the New York City Parks Department, trees and other foliage aboveground will be preserved and replanted at the end of the project -- along with other improvements the Parks Department had planned for Battery Park.
Throughout the project, the MTA is committed to keeping noise to a minimum, using dedicated truck routes, and running equipment with ultra-low-sulfur fuel. Ensuring access to area businesses and to the ferry terminal are also top priorities.
When South Ferry is completed in 2008, residents, commuters, and visitors will have a clean, new subway station and an open, pedestrian-friendly Peter Minuit Plaza that leads to the Staten Island Ferry, Battery Park, and the diverse Lower Manhattan community.
History in the Making at South Ferry
In the single most historically rich area of New York, it is no surprise that artifacts dating back to the early 18th century might crop up at construction sites. But no one was expecting four pre-revolutionary-era stone walls to stand, literally, in the way of South Ferry subway station progress.
Discovered by Metropolitan Transportation Authority crews during excavation for the $400 million terminal, the walls were revealed in sections along State Street at Battery Park. The first, uncovered in November 2005 near Battery Place, set off a flurry of archaeological activity by the New York State Historic Preservation Office (SHPO) and the New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission (LPC), both eager to determine the wall's original function and construction date.
But before city and state officials could even really dig into analyzing the wall, another was found, then another, then another, along with thousands of smaller artifacts such as fragments of ceramic dishes, bottle glass, bones, and an intact 1744 British coin. It became clear that one crew's historical goldmine is another's construction excavation dilemma.
"We were expecting to find artifacts [at the site]. That's why we had archaeologists supervising the excavation," says Mysore Nagaraja, P.E., president of MTA Capital Construction. Planners went so far as to create a map overlay of the archaeological "hotspots" in the construction area, which proved to be spot-on. But of the walls themselves -- while significant to the history of Manhattan and the nation -- he says, "They are very much in the way."
Four Walls as One Fortification
The four walls, though unearthed in sections as far apart as 500 feet, appear to have been part of the same pre-Revolutionary War battery wall. Dating from the mid-1700s, SHPO archaeologists concluded that they represent "one of the oldest standing manmade structures in the United States, part of the first military fortifications during the colonial years by the British," according to a report by the MTA.
Click on the post headline for more information.