Transit Architecture

Transit Architecture - T ransit Architecture: beyond the...

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Transit Architecture: beyond the trains, there are works of art that often go unnoticed Kimberly Yee Magfur Al Saidi
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Yee; Saidi CE 3353 “The railway and its equipment as contemplated by the contract constitute a great public work. All parts of the structure where exposed to public sight shall therefore be designed, constructed, and maintained with a view to the beauty of their appearance, as well as to their efficiency.” – Drafted contract documents of 1899 (Cudahy, 14) The system of rapid transit was an innovative step in engineering. However, its success greatly depended on another feature, its aesthetics, and thus architecture was the driving force behind it. Opened to the public on October 27, 1904, the city’s first official subway system, the Interborough Rapid Transit (IRT) subway, experienced a ridership total of 150,000. The opening ride on the 1 st Contract line ran on what is now the #6 line from lower Manhattan at City Hall to Grand Central, followed by the shuttle route from Grand Central to Times Square, and then the #1, 2, 3, 9 lines from 60 th Street to 145 th Street in Harlem. This line later consisted of 49 stations as its service was extended the following year, to the Bronx, and then in 1908 to Atlantic Avenue, Brooklyn. As plans were being laid out for the construction of the IRT, both the Rapid Transit Commission and the IRT’s Chief Engineer, William Barclay Parsons, acknowledged the need to make the stations and the overall transit system aesthetically pleasing for passengers. Parsons’ travels around Europe led him to envision a system that was rationally laid out, efficient in its flow of commuters, equipped with a complementary architectural appearance that enhanced the system, but did not overwhelm it. This approach would exemplify the “father of modernism,” the American architect, Louis Sullivan’s belief that “form follows function,” As an underground transit system, the goal was to provide its passengers with the ease and comfort of having an attractive, safe, and spatial environment around them. Therefore, transit architecture consists of all aspects of the subway, including underground or elevated
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Yee; Saidi stations/platforms, token booths, entrance/exit kiosks, control houses, rolling stock, power houses, and substations. These features would provide for the growth and expansion of the system into the outer boroughs, dispersing the population from Manhattan to Brooklyn, Queens, and the Bronx. The largest-scale transit projects occurred from 1900 to 1940. Various architectural firms were considered including the prominent British-trained architect Gibson, who had designed the city’s West End Collegiate Church. The prominent architectural style at the time was the Beaux Arts Classical Revival Style. His grasp upon architectural forms was particularly stronger than most architects. The partnership of Carrere and Hastings was another contender and they were best known for their collaboration upon the
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Transit Architecture - T ransit Architecture: beyond the...

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