The new South Ferry station: repaired, reinforced, and reopened

On 16 March 2009, a new South Ferry station, the southern terminus of the New York City Subway’s 1 train, opened under Lower Manhattan. It was New York City’s first new subway station in 20 years and corrected several issues that affected the old South Ferry station, which opened in 1905, and in turn affected the entire 1 line.

Then, just three and a half years later, on 29 October 2012, hurricane Sandy made landfall on New Jersey’s coast, sending a storm surge that inundated Lower Manhattan. The new South Ferry station filled with saltwater — over 50 million liters (15 million gallons) of it, in fact. In a few short hours, the new station, which cost over half a billion dollars, was destroyed.

As a restoration effort got underway, the old 1905 South Ferry station was reopened so 1 train riders could continue to connect to and from the Staten Island Ferry and other transportation options and destinations at Manhattan’s southern tip. (Back in March I went to the old South Ferry station to check it out before it closed once again — this time for good. See my photos and videos here.)

Finally, at noon yesterday, 27 June 2017, nearly five years and $369 million later, the new South Ferry station reopened to passengers.

The reconstructed station is largely the same as the one that was destroyed in 2012. There are a few subtle changes here and there. Perhaps the most apparent are the station name signs emblazoned on the station’s walls, which are bigger than they used to be, reflecting the lettering and sizing on other new stations in the subway system.1 Additional changes include slightly different lighting fixtures and differences in signage throughout the station. There are no longer square black signs that read “South Ferry” on columns, and wayfinding signage, which formerly was found over the platform so it could be seen by passengers as they exited trains, is now found at the platform level only above stairs and escalators.

But the biggest change to the station is on the surface. As part of an effort not only to repair and restore the South Ferry station but to make it resilient against future storms, surface entrances to the station can now be sealed off to protect the station against floodwaters. The new entrances are perhaps a bit less aesthetically pleasing than the delicate glass awnings of their 2009 predecessors, but clearly something a bit sturdier is needed to keep out 50 million liters of water.

I went to the repaired and reopened South Ferry station during rush hour yesterday to check it out. You can check out my photos below (see even more photos in my album on Flickr).

  1. These new stations are 34 St-Hudson Yards on the 7 train, which opened 13 September 2015, and the 72 St, 86 St, and 96 St stations on the Second Avenue Subway (Q train), which opened 1 January 2017. 

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