The New York City Subway Lines Project:
The South Ferry Station (1/9 Train)

What is it?

The south terminal on the 1/9 Train in the New York City Subway system.

What's unique about it?

South Ferry is the only station in the system built as a one-track loop where the train crew does not change ends of the train when turning around.

Served By...

What's interesting About It

The South Ferry station is very short and tightly curved. This means that if you intend to get off the train at this station, you must be in the first five cars of the train, as that's all that will fit at the platform. Also, the small radius of the track loop means that gap fillers are needed on the doors at the ends of the cars. These are devices that slide out from the edge of the platform to fill the gap between the car and the platform.


The South Ferry Station was originally built in 1905 as part of the IRT Brooklyn Extension, as part of the second phase (aka "Contract 2") of the original subway plan. At that time, the single subway line terminated at the old City Hall/Brooklyn Bridge station, and second phase construction continued the line down Broadway through the Financial District to South Ferry. When this line opened, local trains continued to turn around at City Hall while express trains continued on to South Ferry. In 1918, the seventh avenue subway (what we know today as the 1/2/3/9) was built down to South Ferry and it began its current use. An inner loop of track was built at the station with no platform; this was probably to store an extra train at the station.

In 1918, a second platform was built to service the Lexington Avenue Subway (the 4/5/6 line). This station was used until 1977, primarily for shuttle service to the Bowling Green stop on the 4/5/6 Train. The curvature of this inner loop (and placement of the platform on the inside of the loop) meant that it was only safe to enter or leave cars through the middle door. In the 1950s, the new R-series cars could not open only the middle doors, so traffic was routed to the outer loop. Specially modified cars that could open only the middle doors were used for shuttle service between South Ferry and Bowling Green until 1977. Today, the inner loop is still used for turning around the 5 Train after it discharges passengers at Bowling Green.


This was originally an ornate platform, and traces of that remain. The station has a number of decorative "SF" logos, and at least one original Heins & La Forge ferry mosaic on the outer loop platform.

What's Nearby?


While this station was not damaged on September 11, 2001, it has been rendered unreachable from the rest of the Seventh Avenue line. The schedule for reopening the station is November 2002.

The MTA has proposed using funding from the World Trade Center disaster to rework the station so that its platform could accomodate full length trains. Pressure to reopen the line as soon as possible caused them to cancel those plans, though track work is being done south of the Rector Street station so that trains may be turned around there while work is done on the South Ferry station at a future date.

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