Independent Subway System

The Independent Subway System (IND or ISS), formerly known as the Independent City–Owned Subway System (ICOS) or the Independent City–Owned Rapid Transit Railroad, was a rapid transit rail system in New York City that is now part of the New York City Subway. It was first constructed as the "Eighth Avenue Line" in Manhattan in 1932.

One of three rail networks that became part of the modern New York City subway, the IND was intended to be fully owned and operated by the municipal government, in contrast to the privately operated or jointly-funded Interborough Rapid Transit Company (IRT) and Brooklyn–Manhattan Transit Corporation (BMT) companies. It was merged with these two networks in 1940.

The original IND service lines are the modern subways, A through G lines. In addition, the BMT's R now runs partly on IND trackage, and the Rockaway Park Shuttle and V supplement the A and F, respectively. For operational purposes, the IND and BMT lines are referred to jointly as the B Division.


Initially it was known as the Independent City–Owned Subway System (ICOS), Independent Subway System (ISS), or Independent City–Owned Rapid Transit Railroad. It became known as the IND after unification of the subway lines in 1940; the name IND was assigned to match the three-letter initialisms of the IRT and BMT.

The first IND line was the Eighth Avenue Line in Manhattan, opened on September 10, 1932; for a while the whole system was colloquially known as the Eighth Avenue Subway. The original IND system was entirely underground in the four boroughs that it served, with the exception of a short section of the IND Culver Line containing two stations spanning the Gowanus Canal in the Gowanus section of Brooklyn.


In the early 1920s, Mayor John Hylan proposed a complex series of city-owned and operated rapid transit lines to compete with the BMT and IRT, especially their elevated lines. The New York City Transit Commission was formed in 1921 to develop a plan to reduce overcrowding on the subways. The original plans included:

These lines were completely built as planned. All but a short portion of the Culver Line (over the Gowanus Canal) are underground.

Opening and progress through 1933

On September 10, 1932, the Eighth Avenue Line opened from 207th Street to Chambers Street, inaugurating the IND. In February 1933 the Cranberry Street Tunnel opened, along with the Eighth Avenue Line from Chambers Street to Jay Street–Borough Hall. On the northern end of the construction, in the Bronx, the connecting Concourse Line opened on July 1, 1933 from 205th Street to 145th Street.

The following month, the Queens Boulevard Line opened from Roosevelt Avenue–Jackson Heights to the lower level of 50th Street on the Eighth Avenue Line, connecting the Queens and Manhattan lines. In Queens, the Crosstown Line opened from Queens Plaza to Nassau Avenue.

Finally, on October 7, 1933, the Culver Line opened from Jay Street to Church Avenue.

Second Manhattan trunk line, 1936–1937

On January 1, 1936, the Sixth Avenue Line opened from West Fourth Street (where it splits from the Eighth Avenue Line) to East Broadway.

On April 9, 1936 the Fulton Street Line opened from Court Street to Rockaway Avenue, along with connecting tracks from Jay Street. The Sixth Avenue Line and Rutgers Street Tunnel opened from East Broadway to Jay Street.

On December 31, 1936, the Queens Boulevard Line was extended from Roosevelt Avenue to Kew Gardens–Union Turnpike. In 1937, service was extended again to 169th Street.

On July 1, 1937, the Crosstown Line opened from Nassau Avenue to Bergen Street.


A major expansion of the IND was first planned in 1929. It would have added over 100 miles of new routes in Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens, and the Bronx, merging with, intersecting or extending the existing IND rights-of way. It was claimed that this expansion, combined with the operating IRT, BMT, and IND lines, would provide subway service within a half mile of anyone's doorstep. Pricing—excluding acquisition and equipment costs—was estimated at US$438 million; the entire first phase had only cost US$338 million (including acquisition and equipment costs). Not long after these plans were unveiled, the Wall Street Crash of 1929 occurred and the Great Depression was ushered in. The plans essentially became history overnight. Various forms of the expansion resurfaced in 1931, 1939, 1940, 1968, and 1972 but were never realized. This was the time when the IND had planned widespread elevated construction.

The Second Avenue Subway, one of the main parts of the plan, is under construction as of 2007.

1940 Unification

On December 15, 1940, the unbroken local tracks of the Sixth Avenue Line opened from its connection to the Eighth Avenue Line at 59th Street–Columbus Circle to West Fourth Street–Washington Square, along with the express tracks north of 34th Street–Herald Square.

In the 1950s, the IND was extended over two pieces of elevated line that were disconnected from the original BMT system: the BMT Culver Line in 1954, and the Liberty Avenue extension of the BMT Fulton Street Line in 1956. The IND had surface running to and across Jamaica Bay, along with elevated tracks on the viaduct on the Rockaway Peninsula in Queens, the same year. The Queens additions occurred when the Rockaway Beach Branch of the Long Island Rail Road was added to the division after the 1950 fire on the trestle across Jamaica Bay.

The IND as built

The Bronx and Manhattan

East River Crossings

Brooklyn and Queens

  • Queens Boulevard Line from 169th Street, west under Hillside Avenue, Queens Boulevard, Broadway, Northern Boulevard and 44th Drive to the 53rd Street Tunnel to Manhattan
  • Crosstown Line from the Queens Boulevard Line at Queens Plaza, south under Jackson Avenue, Manhattan Avenue, Union Avenue, Marcy Avenue and Lafayette Avenue, coming into the middle of the Fulton Street Line and connecting south into the Culver Line
  • Culver Line (originally the Smith Street Line, later the Coney Island Line) from the Rutgers Street Tunnel, south under Jay Street and Smith Street, coming to the surface and turning east over the Gowanus Canal at Ninth Street, then back underground, under Ninth Street, Prospect Park West, Prospect Avenue, Fort Hamilton Parkway and Mcdonald Avenue, ending at Church Street (later extended south along the BMT Culver Line)
  • Fulton Street Line from Court Street (now the New York Transit Museum) and the Cranberry Street Tunnel east under Fulton Street to Rockaway Avenue (later extended east along the BMT Liberty Avenue Elevated) - parallel to the BMT Fulton Street Elevated

The following extra extensions and connections were built after consolidation in 1940:

Service letters

Pre-Chrystie Street Connection service is shown here; for more details, see the individual service pages. Terminals shown are the furthest the line reached.
Line Routing Notes
A Washington Heights Express 207th Street - Lefferts Boulevard or Rockaway Park or Far Rockaway (via Eighth Avenue) still exists
AA Washington Heights Local 168th Street - Hudson Terminal (via Eighth Avenue) became K (no longer operative)
BB Washington Heights Local 168th Street - 34th Street (via Sixth Avenue) (now continues to Brighton Beach Station) became B
C Bronx Concourse Express 205th Street - Hoyt–Schermerhorn Street (via Eighth Avenue) no longer operated
CC Bronx Concourse Local 205th Street - Hudson Terminal (via Eighth Avenue) became C
D Bronx Concourse Express 205th Street - Coney Island (via Sixth Avenue) still exists
E Queens–Manhattan Express 179th Street - Rockaway Park or Far Rockaway (via Eighth Avenue and Houston Street) still exists
F Queens–Manhattan Express 179th Street - Hudson Terminal or Second Avenue (via Sixth Avenue) still exists
GG Queens Brooklyn Local Forest Hills - Smith–9th Streets (via Crosstown Line) became G
HH Schermerhorn Street Shuttle Court Street - Hoyt–Schermerhorn Street no longer operated
HH Rockaway Local Euclid Avenue - Rockaway Park or Far Rockaway became H, then S

External links

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