P R O P O S E D   H I S T O R I C   D I S T R I C T   E X T E N S I O N

- To return to the extension map -

INTERBOROUGH RAPID TRANSIT COMPANY SUBSTATION
108 East 19th Street
Architect: John Van Vleck and Paul C. Hunter
1902-04

Interborough Rapid Transit Company Substation

This handsome Renaissance-inspired powerhouse was built as part of the initial phase of construction on the Interborough Rapid Transit (IRT) subway. After many years of planning and discussion, work finally began on the construction of this, New York's first subway line, 1899. Electricity to run the system was generated at an enormous power plant located on the block bounded by Eleventh and Twelfth avenues and West 58th and 59th streets. The power plant was planned to generate alternating current from the burning of coal. This current was directed to eight substations located along the route of the subway line, where it was converted into direct current. the current then flowed into the third rail placed alongside the subway tracks.

The East 19th Street building is one of the eight original power substations. Unlike the main generating plant which was designed by one of the most prominent architectural firms of the era, the substations were designed by members of the IRT's own staff.

The IRT was one of the most important public-works projects ever undertaken in New York. As such, the design of the systemÕs stations, power plants, and other buildings was of great importance, and they were all designed to be architecturally distinguished. In fact, the city contract that permitted the Interborough Rapid Transit Company to build the subway included the following provision:

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 wall as to their efficiency.

The East 19th Street substation is an eclectic structure. It is massed in a manner reminiscent of Italian Renaissance palazzo and it is ornamented with French Beaux-Arts details such as cartouches and brackets hung with garlands. In addition, the upper story is faced with brick laid in a Georgian-inspired Flemish-bond pattern with burned headers. The four-story building is faced with fine materials; it has a granite base, limestone midsection, and the brick upper story, and contains iron window bays and terra-cotta detail. No longer used as a power station, the building was cleaned in 1990-91 and is presently vacant.

Click to return to our mainpage



GRAMERCY PARK EAST:

37
38


GRAMERCY PARK NORTH:

40
44
45
60


LEXINGTON AVENUE:

1
Gramercy Park Hotel
Park Gramercy


PARK AVENUE SOUTH:

Church Missions House
New York Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children


EAST 22ND STREET:

United Charities Building
Manhattan Trade School for Girls
Gramercy Arms
Sage House
Family Court Building
Children's Court
145
Gustavus Adolphus Swedish Lutheran Church
Parish House
Lexington
Miss E.L. Breese Carriage House
Gramercy Court
158


THIRD AVENUE


EAST 19TH STREET:

105
109
111 & 113
115 & 117
IRT Company Substation
112-114
116
118
120
122


IRVING PLACE:

65 & 71
67-69
81


NYSCA To EXIT and return to Preserve & Protect

last revised 31 August 1998

nL
Click to return to our mainpage