Getting the shaft: Dumbo residents demand second entrance at York St. subway station

Going nowhere: Masses of people flood through York Street Station’s one exit during the morning rush hour.
Brooklyn Paper
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It is the tunnel of shove!

The Metropolitan Transportation Authority must add a second entrance to York Street station, say Dumbo residents and workers, who claim the daily hordes are already pushing each other out of way to get in and out of the F stop’s lone, long egress and an emergency situation could end in tragedy.

“It’s unsafe now,” said Dumbo resident Anna Lawton. “If anything ever happens, there’s going to be a massive problem.”

Modern stations have to sport at least two escape routes, but the only way to enter or exit the 79-year-old station on the corner of Jay and York streets is make a lengthy trek up or down a single ramp and flight of stairs — a set-up that leads to impenetrable crowds moving in one direction en masse at rush hour, according to one commuter.

“There should be another entrance because there are huge crowds and it’s overwhelmi­ng,” said artist Elizabeth Hazan, who works in Dumbo and avoids the station altogether during rush hour. “If you’re trying to go against the grain it’s impossible.”

The pit-stop’s popularity has swelled in recent years as the formerly industrial area has boomed with new residents, businesses, and tourists — an average of 9,000 people swarmed the station every weekday in 2014, up from around 6,000 in 2009, according to agency data.

And the neighborhood’s numbers are set to surge even further in the coming years — there are several huge office buildings in the pipeline, plus a massive empty lot for sale next door, where real-estate experts say a developer will likely build several big residential towers that could add more than a thousand additional denizens to the ’hood.

A rep for the transit agency said it is speaking with the city about forcing developers to help pay for station upgrades when their buildings add a significant number of riders. And local leaders are demanding the city lay down the law before the new towers rise in Dumbo.

“They shouldn’t move on anything until there’s two exits in the York Street subway,” said Doreen Gallo, who is president of the area civic group the Dumbo Neighborhood Alliance and who saw how things could go disastrously wrong at the stop first-hand in 2014 when an unprecedented throng showed up to outdoor arts gala the Festival of Lights, overwhelming the platform and forcing police to functionally shut it down.

The agency spokesperson refused to comment on any hypothetical changes at York Street, but one unaffiliated transit maven was more than happy to.

Flatbush railroad aficionado Bob Diamond — who has been traversing the city’s rail tunnels since he was a teen — speculates that adding a new entrance at York Street would be particularly challenging because the tracks are so deep underground. The transit authority would need to install high-speed elevators or escalators to cover the distance, and may have to extend the platform — which runs between York and High streets — as well. But, he added, it would be money well spent.

“It would be costly but it would be worth it from the point of view the area is developing very quickly,” said Diamond, who guessed escalators could cost run between $7 and $15 million alone, and a full renovation could balloon up to $100 million if a platform extension is required.

The transit buff also had a proposition for covering the costs — he expects the streetcar Mayor DeBlasio is planning to build along the borough’s waterfront will run nearby on Water or Plymouth streets, and suggested the city foot the bill for a new entrance at the corner of Water and Jay streets itself.

Reach reporter Lauren Gill at or by calling (718) 260–2511. Follow her on Twitter @laurenk_gill
Updated 10:17 pm, July 9, 2018
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Reasonable discourse

old f*rt formerly from Dumbo says:
When I moved to the neighborhood, there was often nobody in the York Street station. I would come home or head off somewhere and run into some guy going in the other direction and I would wonder, am I going to get held up this time, because it's just him and me and this very long tunnel.
Feb. 19, 2016, 8:47 am
Chuck-D from says:
Jay and water doesn't make any sense. The station runs N-S under Jay, with the entrance on York but the actual platform running from Prospect to High street. We'd want a second entrance at the other end of the platform, down between High and Nassau, probably next to the Manhattan Bridge pedestrian plaza thing.
Feb. 19, 2016, 9:52 am
Pedro Valdez Rivera Jr. from Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brooklyn, New York, United States says:
With an increase of subway riders, partly because of overdevelopment for affordable housing in NYC, which leads to gentrification, no wonder the station platforms are so overcrowded. They needed the newer subway entrance ASAP as cost effectively as possible.
Feb. 19, 2016, 10:55 am
AMH from Harlem says:
Agree with Chuck--the current exit at York St is at the north end of the station, so an entrance farther north would not improve access. An additional exit to the south would be complicated by the Manhattan Bridge piers and the A/C tracks. It would probably be necessary to build a new mezzanine above or below the tracks at the south end (just above High St where the A/C turn west). A very difficult task in any case, but likely necessary.
Feb. 19, 2016, 10:56 am
StevenR from Brooklyn Heights says:
Well golly gee wizz!! Why didn't anyone think of this during all those years of re-purposing commercial and manufacturing buildings into condos??? If you build condos, they will come. And they most certainly did. So why didn't anyone see this coming?

Oh, yeah. I forgot.

Feb. 19, 2016, 1:22 pm
Trollerskates from Moving Target says:
Great post Chuck, thanks for the info. I was in Dumbo for the Festival of Lights, the situation outside the York St. station was terrifying. Like the post above says, improving subway access should have been dealt with decades ago, before they let developers run amok. Likely the only thing that will happen is a shuttle bus to DeKalb, or something else half assed like that.
Feb. 19, 2016, 1:46 pm
Allan from Park Slope says:
Wouldn't the quicker and much less expensive solution be to create a new B/D/N/Q station at Sand Street and Gold Street adjacent to the Brooklyn pedestrian access to the Manhattan Bridge?
Feb. 19, 2016, 4:11 pm
Atio Fell from Newkirk Plaza says:
Isn't there an abandoned station between DeKalb Avenue and Canal Street? Would re-opening it relieve some of the Dumbo pressure?
Feb. 19, 2016, 8:21 pm
epc from West Chelsea says:
The current platform runs from approximately just north of Prospect to High Street, an exit could be put in the base of the former Watchtower dorm at the corner of High and Jay Street.
Feb. 21, 2016, 4:20 pm
Roberto Gautier from Brooklyn Heights says:
The issue of failed city planning and politically-motivated "development" strategies which ignore critical infrastructure raise the question of the need for a moratorium on growth. This is anathema to many Americans and perhaps a basic fault in the economic system. While this discussion is going on, Mark Zuckerberg and others are in Barcelona touting their vision of virtual reality. No set of virtual reality goggles will make the York Street station more roomy and convenient.
Feb. 22, 2016, 10:35 am
Charles from Bklyn says:
This is a long time coming for this issue. I was caught in a train fire at this station in 2003 and guess why 75 people had to evacuate down the smoke filled tunnels to safety? The fire was in front on the only exit.
Feb. 22, 2016, 11:57 am
jerry krase from the slope says:
bloombergian comprehensive 'planning'... to paraphrase hist transport x-pert the sadist khan 'let 'em eat bike lanes.'
Feb. 27, 2016, 9:18 am

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