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Houston Street station (IRT Broadway–Seventh Avenue Line)

Houston Street is a local station on the IRT Broadway–Seventh Avenue Line of the New York City Subway. Located at West Houston and Varick Streets in Greenwich Village, Manhattan, it is served by the 1 train at all times and by the 2 train during late nights.

History

The Dual Contracts, which were signed on March 19, 1913, were contracts for the construction and/or rehabilitation and operation of rapid transit lines in the City of New York. The contracts were "dual" in that they were signed between the City and two separate private companies (the Interborough Rapid Transit Company and the Brooklyn Rapid Transit Company), all working together to make the construction of the Dual Contracts possible. The Dual Contracts promised the construction of several lines in Brooklyn. As part of Contract 4, the IRT agreed to build a branch of the original subway line south down Seventh Avenue, Varick Street, and West Broadway to serve the West Side of Manhattan.The construction of this line, in conjunction with the construction of the Lexington Avenue Line, would change the operations of the IRT system. Instead of having trains go via Broadway, turning onto 42nd Street, before finally turning onto Park Avenue, there would be two trunk lines connected by the 42nd Street Shuttle. The system would be changed from looking like a "Z" system on a map to an "H" system. One trunk would run via the new Lexington Avenue Line down Park Avenue, and the other trunk would run via the new Seventh Avenue Line up Broadway. In order for the line to continue down Varick Street and West Broadway, these streets needed to be widened, and two new streets were built, the Seventh Avenue Extension and the Varick Street Extension. It was predicted that the subway extension would lead to the growth of the Lower West Side, and to neighborhoods such as Chelsea and Greenwich Village.

Houston Street opened as the line was extended south to South Ferry from 34th Street–Penn Station on July 1, 1918, and was served by a shuttle. The new "H" system was implemented on August 1, 1918, joining the two halves of the Broadway–Seventh Avenue Line and sending all West Side trains south from Times Square. An immediate result of the switch was the need to transfer using the 42nd Street Shuttle. The completion of the "H" system doubled the capacity of the IRT system.

Station layout

This underground station has two side platforms and four tracks. The two center tracks are at a lower elevation from the local tracks and used by the 2 and 3 express trains during daytime hours.

Both platforms have golden mosaic trim lines with blue and green borders and "H" tablets on a light blue background at regular intervals. The large name tablets read "HOUSTON ST." in gold Times New Roman font on dark blue background and gold border. There are also directional tablets in the same style. Yellow i-beam columns lining run along both platforms at regular intervals with alternating ones having the standard black name plate with white Helvetica lettering.

The station's artwork, installed during a 1994 in-house renovation, is entitled Platform Diving by Deborah Brown. It consists of murals on both platforms depicting sea creatures in an underwater subway system.

Exits

All fare control areas in this station are at platform level and there are no crossovers or crossunders, though evidence of a sealed-up crossunder is present at the north end by the main fare control areas. On both sides, a turnstile bank leads to a two staircases going up to West Houston and Varick Streets, either western corners on the South Ferry-bound side and either eastern corners on the Bronx-bound side. Only the Bronx-bound side has a token booth, however. The South Ferry-bound side is unstaffed.

Both platforms have an unstaffed secondary fare control area towards their south ends. Two high entry/exit turnstiles and one exit-only turnstile leads to two staircases going up to Varick and King Streets, either western corners on the South Ferry-bound side and either eastern corners on the Bronx-bound side.