Infographic Of The Day: A Map Of NYC’s Lost Subway Lines

This map by Balance Media and John Keefe shows the ambitious MTA lines that were once planned, but never built.

Infographic Of The Day: A Map Of NYC’s Lost Subway Lines

I used to live by the Hoyt-Schermerhorn stop in the New York subway system, which is famous for having a disused platform that movie productions use to stage scenes (the music video for Bad, directed by Martin Scorsese, was shot there). But there are whole other “lost” stations in the MTA system that few people know about–not to mention entire subway lines that were planned, but never built. What would that alternate-universe NYC subway system map look like? This.

[Click to view interactive version.]

The interactive map, created for the Transportation Nation project by Balance Media and John Keefe, deftly overlays these mysterious historical features over the MTA map we all know and love (and sometimes hate). Rolling over the map with your mouse causes the “real” subway system to ghost into the background, letting the “lost” stations and unbuilt lines leap into focus.

Rolling over these highlighted items conjures up interesting historical factoids, like the mothballed South 4th Street station in Williamsburg, “a large concrete shell” intended to service an extension of the F train and 8th Avenue lines that never panned out. In 2010, the Underbelly Project commissioned graffiti artists to infiltrate the station and cover it with street art. Other unbuilt lines were meant to bring subway service to outer-borough areas like Sheepshead Bay in Brooklyn, Eastchester in the Bronx, and even Staten Island.

According to a fascinating article by Jim O’Grady, these lines were planned by a pre-Depression city flush with cash and ambition. Then the 1930s hit and those plans were left undone. Now that the city is feeling its mass-transit oats again with the 2nd Avenue subway currently under construction, this map combines the disappointing past and optimistic future of one of the world’s most famous subway systems all at once.

About the author

John Pavlus is a writer and filmmaker focusing on science, tech, and design topics. His writing has appeared in Wired, New York, Scientific American, Technology Review, BBC Future, and other outlets.