A Subway Substation — Then and Now

Substation 235

Substation 235 at Greenwich Avenue and Horatio Street in 1933. Image via NYPL.

The familiar view above, taken in 1933, looks north on Greenwich Avenue (at Horatio Street) toward 14th Street and features the striking art deco Substation 235 of the New York City Transit Authority.

Constructed in 1932 for the new Independent Subway System’s (IND) 8th Avenue line which was built from 1932 to 1940, the electrical substation converted high voltage alternating current to lower voltage direct current for use in the transit system.  It is clad in brick and limestone and features attractive geometric patterns throughout and on the large aluminum loading bay doors.

Substation 235

Greenwich Avenue and Horatio Street today.

Just within the northern bounds of the Greenwich Village Historic District, the view from today shows that much about the area has not changed physically. Although the substation building is still used for its original purpose, many of the buildings in the view, including the bank buildings at 14th Street and the massive, block-long Port Authority Building (at 8th avenue and 15th Street) have been adaptively reused. The most conspicuous change (in addition to the automobiles) is the presence of a new residential development directly north of substation. Completed in 2009, the controversial 11-story, undulating glass tower was built on a former parking lot at 122 Greenwich Avenue.

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Drew Drew was GVSHP's Director of Administration until March 2015.