IRT ARRIVES AT
Good transportation to the College's new home was vital, and while the 9th Avenue El was running high above the street below the hill, a new underground venture was to give City College its defining connection with New York City mass transit.
IRT emerging from the tunnel at 120th street. Courtesy of the New York Transit Museum, Brooklyn (*). See larger image.
By the turn of the century the elevated lines consisted of 81 miles of track and linked the Bronx, Manhattan and Brooklyn as the Manhattan Railway Company. In the 1890s, New York's Rapid Transit Board began planning for a subway line that would run north from City Hall. In 1903 the Manhattan Railway Company was leased for a period of 999 years to the new Interborough Rapid Transit Company to allow the new subway system to be coordinated with the El lines. Like those elevated lines, the new subway was built and operated by a private company. This IRT Company, controlled by financier August Belmont, built the Broadway and Lexington Avenue Lines (now the 1,2,3,4,5,6 and 9 trains).
With the slogan "15 minutes to Harlem," the IRT opened on October 27, 1904, making the 9.1 mile run from City Hall to the temporary terminal at 145th Street. By 1908 it ran as far north as 242nd Street, the Bronx portion of the route being elevated.
City College now renewed an earlier appeal for the 137th Street station to be named for the college. In 1916, Lee Kohns (Class of 1884 and a Trustee of City College) wrote August Belmont and emphasized that 10,000 City College students made "the largest single contribution to the revenue" of the 137th Street Station and that the College's new Lewisohn Stadium would bring even more people to the station.
By December 1920 the authorities agreed to the change provided the college would pay the $2000 cost of the changes in the station. An alumni committee was formed which asked graduates to contribute $10.00 each until the sum was raised. Evening Session students also contributed and in April 1922, it officially bore the name, colors and seal of City College.
137th Street Station with newpaper clippings of the time. Courtesy of CCNY Archives.
See larger image.
See newspaper clippings.
(*) Note: This image cannot be reproduced without written permission from the NYTM Archives. Their web site is at http://www.mta.nyc.ny.us/museum/.