Anyone who has attempted to change trains at Fulton Street in Lower Manhattan over the past seventy years knows that it is a Byzantine experience, a bafflement of signs, staircases, and passageways, a warren of subway lines that seemingly leads in circles.
Lower Manhattan’s aging underground transportation network was in need of repair and rethinking long before the damages inflicted by the 9/11 terrorist attack made repair and rethinking unavoidable. Central to the post 9/11 efforts to rebuild lower Manhattan is the Fulton Street Transit Center, a multi-level structure that will replace the current labyrinthine connections to a dozen subway lines. The central feature of the Transit Center will be an east-west concourse, giving easy connections to every subway from the IRT 2/3 subway entrance at William Street two blocks east of Broadway, to the planned World Trade Center Transportation Hub. Commuter-friendly concourses will connect key areas of the regional transportation network.
Final details are being worked out for the above ground building. The 115-year-old Corbin Building, at the corner of Broadway and John Street, will be restored and incorporated into the transit center entrance design. The transit center will be a focal point with a vibrant design and a visible portal to downtown and the transit system below.
The current Fulton Street subway complex is made up of six separate stations, built between 1905 and 1932 by the IRT and BMT companies and the city-owned IND. Because the subway lines competed with one another during this period, there was no incentive to provide connections between the lines. The city took over all subway lines in 1940; over time, the various stations were connected in patchwork fashion, yielding the daunting subterranean jumble navigated by generations of commuters.
Secant pile walls are an innovative way to build retaining walls. They are formed by a series of interlocking shafts and used primarily where the bedrock is so high that the piles do not need to be driven deep. This method of construction minimizes noise and vibration levels on surrounding buildings. The secant piles form a continuous watertight concrete wall.
Some elements of the original 1905 Fulton Street station are being integrated into the new station design. New openings in the historic walls will retain the entire existing ceramic border at the top of the wall and all of the decorative marble, ceramic, and mosaic treatments at the piers.