Elected official mark the opening of the new South Ferry Subway Station
The terminal that served its first riders in 1905 has now arrived in the 21st century.
South Ferry, known to nearly 100,000 daily subway riders as the-station-for-which-you-must-be-in-the-first-five-cars, opened today, drawing together local elected leaders, Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) officials, and community members for the long-awaited ribbon-cutting ceremony.
The $535-million terminal and reconstruction of Peter Minuit Plaza was financed through a $420 million grant from the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) and $107 million in local funds. The station's opening marks the completion of the first major public-works project since September 11, 2001.
“This station represents not only our joint city, state and federal commitment to rebuilding Lower Manhattan, but also our commitment to mass transit in New York State,” said Governor Paterson.
Among those joining the governor were U.S. Senator Charles Schumer, U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, Congressman Jerrold Nadler, Assemblyman Alan Gerson, Manhattan Borough President Scott M. Stringer, MTA Executive Director and CEO Elliot Sander, Alliance for Downtown New York President Elizabeth Berger, and Regional Administrator of the Federal Transit Administration, Brigid Hynes-Cherin.
“We are pleased to have contributed $420 million toward the construction of the new South Ferry Terminal Station," said U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood. "This is a true intermodal facility that connects trains, ferries, and buses -- shortening travel times, and giving people greater access to Lower Manhattan.”
Uday Durg, P.E., the project’s program executive, explained on a recent tour that the new station has all the “bells and whistles” of a modern subway terminal. Among them is an air-tempering system to cool the station -- the first in the New York City Transit network -- as well as low-vibration, rubber-padded track ties to reduce the rumble and shrieks of train wheels.
|The platform now accommodates 10-car trains
On the 600-foot-long, extra-wide platform, which now fully accommodates 10-car trains, riders also get stainless-steel benches to sit on; high, arched steel ceilings; and shiny porcelain-paneled walls.
The station is ADA-compliant, with two elevators to take riders from street to mezzanine, then down to the middle of the platform. Seven escalators will help move approximately five million riders through the station’s three canopied entrances each year -- including commuters transferring (paid or unpaid) to and from the R/W Whitehall Street station.
Safety features include security cameras, pressurized air that can immediately remove smoke from the station and its stairways, state-of-the-art exhaust fans, and instantly programmable digital-information signboards.
But the structure and safety elements are not the only innovations -- MTA designers also took the opportunity of showcasing Lower Manhattan’s history in the new station. One feature unique to South Ferry is around 400 years old: A section of the historic Dutch-fort stone wall, discovered during the site’s 2005 excavation, was precisely reassembled and embedded in the tile wall at the station’s south mezzanine.
Meanwhile, brothers Doug and Mike Starn created a $1 million art-installation series that adorns the south mezzanine, as part of the Arts for Transit program. “See It Split, See It Change” includes a metal grate replicating the silhouettes of real living trees in Battery Park, and floor-to-ceiling fused-glass walls depicting actual leaves found in the park -- a way to link the foliage and its many branches and veins with that of the subway network.
Above the southern platform staircase, the twin brothers also installed a 20-foot-wide, mosaic, sepia-toned map of Lower Manhattan circa 1640. It is overlaid with an embedded metal outline of today’s downtown shoreline, which was originally along Pearl and West Streets but over the centuries was expanded into the harbor.
The remaining construction work at South Ferry is now aboveground at Peter Minuit Plaza. The MTA, in coordination with the city Parks Department, will landscape the plaza starting this spring. And with the collaboration of the city Department of Transportation, the new plaza will include a new bus loop. Both elements are expected to be complete in late 2009.
“This is the first new subway station to open in New York City in nearly 20 years," said Sander. "It is a major milestone in the rebuilding of Lower Manhattan, as it is the first major public transportation project to open Downtown since 9/11.
"This artistically beautiful and highly functional station is a tangible reminder that when the MTA is provided with adequate capital funding, we build monumental works that will benefit generations of New Yorkers for many decades to come.”