Rutgers Street Tunnel

The Sixth Avenue Line is a rapid transit line of the B Division of the New York City Subway in the United States. It runs mainly under Sixth Avenue in Manhattan, and continues south through the Rutgers Street Tunnel to Brooklyn. It was the last trunk line of the Independent Subway System, completed in 1940.


The majority of the Sixth Avenue Line has four tracks, two local and two express. At each end, these pairs of tracks split, giving the line two north and two south ends. One of the north ends is at 57th Street, where two tracks lead south under Sixth Avenue from the IND 63rd Street Line (used by the F train at all times). The other is just south of 59th Street – Columbus Circle, where a two-track line splits from the IND Eighth Avenue Line at a flying junction (with connections to the local and express tracks), immediately turns east under 53rd Street, and crosses the IND Queens Boulevard Line, which parallels it just to the north. At Seventh Avenue, the southbound track is above the northbound track; the same is true on the Queens Boulevard Line (though north is the opposite direction from the Sixth Avenue Line). These tracks are used by the B and D express trains.

This line then turns south to go under Sixth Avenue, merging with the branch from 57th Street and a connection to the IND Queens Boulevard Line (used by the M train) to become a four-track line. The southbound track becomes the westernmost track, and the northbound track becomes the second track from the east; the other lines merge to become the second track from the west and the easternmost track, with connections only between the 63rd Street Line and the two main tracks. After passing through 47th–50th Streets – Rockefeller Center, the two southbound tracks cross; the main tracks become the two center express tracks and the tracks from the other lines are the two outside local tracks.

South of 42nd Street – Bryant Park is a large interlocking with many crossover and switches. The original express tracks ended just to the south at 34th Street – Herald Square and some services switched to the local tracks at the interlocking. This was done because the PATH tunnels already existed under Sixth Avenue south of 33rd Street and the Sixth Avenue Line local tracks were built on each side of PATH. The section between West Fourth Street – Washington Square and 34th Street – Herald Square, the only express section of this line, was originally built as a two track subway with the provision to expand to four tracks later (the express tracks were added in the 1960s during the Chrystie Street Connection projects. As a result they are placed under the local tracks and PATH).

At West Fourth Street – Washington Square, the express tracks return to the same level as the local tracks. A flying junction just to the south connects the local tracks of the Eighth Avenue Line. The Sixth Avenue Line then turns east under Houston Street. After Broadway – Lafayette Street, the express tracks turn south and use the Chrystie Street Connection to Grand Street before crossing the north side of the Manhattan Bridge into Brooklyn. The local tracks split at this point. One pair continues east to Second Avenue (used by the F train) while the other pair merges with the BMT Nassau Street Line at Essex Street (used by the M train).

Just before approaching Second Avenue, the line splits into four tracks again. The two express tracks, currently not used in revenue service, continues east and dead-ends. They would have entered Brooklyn as part of the never-materialized IND Worth Street Line. The local tracks turn south under Essex Street and Rutgers Street before crossing under the East River via the Rutgers Street Tunnel to become the IND Culver Line in Brooklyn, stopping at the outer tracks of Jay Street – MetroTech.


The IND Sixth Avenue Line was built to replace the elevated IRT Sixth Avenue Line, which was closed and demolished in 1939). The first portion of the line to open was the part not under Sixth Avenue. What was then known as the Houston–Essex Street Line began operations at noon on January 1, 1936 with two local tracks from a junction with the Washington Heights, Eighth Avenue and Church Street Line (Eighth Avenue Line) south of West Fourth Street – Washington Square east under Houston Street and south under Essex Street to a temporary terminal at East Broadway. E trains, which ran from Jackson Heights, Queens to Hudson Terminal, were shifted to the new line to East Broadway. Two express tracks were built on the portion under Houston Street, intended to connect with the never-built IND Worth Street Line.

Just after midnight on April 9, 1936, trains began running under the East River via the Rutgers Street Tunnel, which connected the Houston-Essex Street Line with the north end of the Jay–Smith–Ninth Street Line at a junction with the Eighth Avenue Line north of Jay Street – Borough Hall. E trains were sent through the connection to Church Avenue. Simultaneously, the Fulton Street Line was opened to Rockaway Avenue and the A and C trains, which had used Smith Street, were rerouted to Fulton Street.

At first the city intended to take over the Hudson and Manhattan Railroad (PATH) tunnel in Sixth Avenue for express tracks at a future time, building a new subway at a lower level for the H&M.

The stubs that now become the IND 63rd Street Line were built for a proposed extension under Central Park to Harlem.

The local tracks on the main part of the line opened at 00:01 on December 15, 1940. The following service changes were made:

  • AA (Washington Heights Local) was brought back for non-rush-hour service between 168th Street and Hudson Terminal via the Eighth Avenue Line.
  • BB (Washington Heights Local) was added for rush-hour only service between 168th Street and Hudson Terminal via the Sixth Avenue Line.
  • D (Bronx Concourse Express) was added for service between Norwood – 205th Street and Hudson Terminal via the Sixth Avenue Line.
  • E (Queens–Manhattan Express) service was cut back from Church Avenue to Broadway – Lafayette Street.
  • F (Queens–Manhattan Express) was added for service between Parsons Boulevard and Church Avenue via the Sixth Avenue Line.
Service patterns

Between 1940 and 1967, the Sixth Avenue Line had one local service (originally F) through the Rutgers Street Tunnel to Brooklyn, one short-turn local service (originally D) that turned back at various point in Lower Manhattan, and one rush-hour short turn service to 34th Street (BB). With the opening of the Chrystie Street Connection in 1967, the short-turn local was sent through the connection to Brooklyn (as the KK during rush hours and the B at other times), a new express service via the connection (D) was added, and the rush-hour BB was re-designated B and extended via the express tracks and connection to Brooklyn. Other than changes in letters, the only major change to this pattern was between 1988 and 2001, when the Manhattan Bridge south tracks were closed for reconstruction, and the short-turn local was replaced with part-time express to Brooklyn (Q, later B in 2004). In 2001, the part time short-turn local was reintroduced into the system as the V. In 2010, the V was replaced by the M.

Station listing

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