Busy Downtown Brooklyn subway entrance shuts down for renovations

June 7, 2019 Raanan Geberer
Two travelers wait with their suitcases for a subway at the Jay St.-MetroTech station. AP Photo/Mark Lennihan
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An important and historic subway entrance to Brooklyn’s second-busiest subway station will be shut down for approximately a year, undergoing renovations that are estimated to cost $21.7 million.

Since May 20, the “Myrtle Avenue North Arcade” entrance to the Jay Street/MetroTech station, which is built into NYU’s Center for Urban Science building at 370 Jay St., has been closed.

The stairways are slated for reconstruction, the elevators are scheduled to be replaced and the escalator machinery will be moved within the station and likewise replaced, according to a sign posted at the site.

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The stairways are expected to open again in spring 2020, and the escalators are scheduled be in operation that summer, an MTA New York City Transit spokesperson told the Brooklyn Eagle.

An elevator is also part of the entrance — which serves the Brooklyn District Attorney’s Office, MetroTech and the New York Marriott at the Brooklyn Bridge — but it was not mentioned in the summary of the repair work.

While there are other entrances to the station, including one across Jay Street at the entrance to MetroTech itself, the 370 Jay St. entrance is important to riders who are disabled or otherwise have trouble climbing stairs because of its two escalators and elevator.

The underground Jay Street/MetroTech complex, which serves four lines, has another elevator connecting the street and the station, but it’s at Jay and Willoughby streets, several blocks to the south.

The 370 Jay St. entrance has historic significance — both positive and negative.

From the time 370 Jay St. opened in 1950 until the early 2010s, it was an MTA New York City Transit office building. It was originally considered state-of-the-art, with huge windows that provided light and air in every room.

This sense of newness extended to the subway station entrance on the ground floor. For many years, the entryway was decorated with a huge carving that showed a map of the world, with stars showing the locations of battles where transit employees had been killed during World War II and their names. The map was later moved to another, nearby MTA building at 130 Livingston St.

Starting in the 1990s, however, the MTA began moving its offices out of 370 Jay and into 130 Livingston and another building at 2 Broadway in Manhattan. The original headquarters at 370 Jay St. deteriorated, as did the subway entrance.

A 2008 article in the Eagle by this author characterized the entrance as having “empty storefronts, peeling paint, trash [and] cigarette butts.”

In October of that year, then-Borough President Marty Markowitz held a rally at the station to demand that the MTA sell the nearly empty building and fix the station entrance, which Joe Chan of the Downtown Brooklyn Partnership said was a disincentive for people who might want to invest in the area.

Several years later, the MTA removed the peeling paint from the ceiling, repainted it and cleaned up the entrance in general. NYU signed a lease for the building in 2012.

The sign outside the now-closed arcade says that the MTA and NYU, cooperated on the redesign of the station, and that “the work is being done by NYU for MTA New York City Transit.”

The main contractor is Skanska USA, a large firm that built the first phase of the Second Avenue Subway, rehabilitated the Brooklyn Bridge from 2010-2014 and is now expanding Penn Station into the James Farley Post Office in Manhattan.

After the work is done at 370 Jay St., renovations will shift to the “South Arcade” entrance at Jay and Willoughby streets, the MTA said.

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  1. Marc_from_Brooklyn

    MTA New York City Transit’s elevator is at the south arcade at Willoughby on street level and exits into the mezzanine of the Jay Street-Metrotech station near the station booth near the exit into the underground portion of the south arcade. It shouldn’t be affected when the south arcade is renovated.