We’re #1!: A History of MC’s Mass Transit Icon

Traveling south along Broadway is something which is just as much a part of the Manhattan College campus as it is a part of the Bronx and the greater New York City area: the number 1 train.

The train is the local Broadway-Seventh Avenue train which begins at Van Cortlandt Park-242 St in the Bronx and ends at South Ferry in lower Manhattan just steps away from the Staten Island Ferry, encompassing a total of just under 15 miles of subway service.

The 1 train has been a part of New York City for nearly as long as the subway system itself.  The “West Side Branch” was one of the first widely used sections of the transit system, and the 1 still uses its tracks to this day.

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Pasquale’s Rigoletto Restaurant on Arthur Ave. in the Bronx, serves traditional italian dishes. ROSE BRENNAN / THE QUADRANGLE

The stops on the train have varied throughout the years.  The route has always traveled between 242 St and 96 St, with further and further extensions opening throughout the years.

As of right now, there are 38 stops on the 1 train, 37 of which are operational.  The 38th station, Cortlandt Street, sustained severe damage during the Sept. 11 attacks because it is directly under the World Trade Center.  Renovations and repairs of the damaged station are nearly complete, and it is expected to open again in the fall of 2018.

In addition to the World Trade Center, many areas of attraction in New York are directly accessible through the 1 train.  For example, Van Cortlandt Park, the George Washington Bridge, Columbia University, Lincoln Center, Columbus Circle, Times Square, Penn Station and parts of Central Park are all mere steps away from 1 train stations throughout the city.

Of the 472 subway stations in New York City, 14 1 train stations are among the top 100 most visited annually: Times Square (1st), Penn Station (5th), Columbus Circle (8th), 14 St (16th), 72 St (22nd), 96 St (24th), South Ferry (37th), 168 St (45th), 50 St (46th), Lincoln Center (56th), Chambers St (62nd), 86 St (68th), 79 St (83rd) and Columbia University (100th).  Van Cortlandt Park-242 St, the school’s station, placed this out of 472.

Riverdale, along with New York City, seems to have a love-hate relationship with the 1 train.  Some aspects of the system seem outdated: the train runs local and therefore slowly, the cars have not been renovated since the 1980s and often, the loudspeakers announcing service changes are virtually unheard.

Nevertheless, the train connects the college to the rest of the world, as well as the rest of the city of which we are privileged to be a part.  Much of the college’s commuter population rely on the train to bring them back and forth to school every day, and it is a lifesaver for students with internships and jobs downtown.

The college population’s relationship with the train can be summed up in the same way BuzzFeed’s “Definitive Ranking of New York City Subway Trains” did.  The train placed 15th out of New York City’s 21 subway services, with the comment, “It gets you from door to door, basically — it just takes foreveeeeer.”

The “State of the Subways Report Card” conducted by Straphangers Campaign upholds this claim as well.  In 2016, the 1 train ranked third overall in the “Regularity of Service” category and second overall in the “Interior Cleanliness” category.

However, the system fell short in several other categories: 12th in “Breakdown Rate” and 19th in “In-Car Announcements.”

Love it or hate it, the 1 train is an essential and unforgettable part of both the MC community and the Bronx as a whole.