One Station Away

A distinct quality of underground mass transit is its separation from the activity of the city that it serves. For maximum expediency and efficiency, subways necessarily require riders to enter into an isolated infrastructural system. Although spatially connected along an artery of conveyance, the physical relationship between stations within the system is only loosely perceivable. Traveling through a dark tunnel, distance is no longer perceived as a spatial relationship and instead is estimated as a function of time. Above ground, an understanding of the immediacy between stations in adjacent neighborhoods is often precluded by physical impediments and other visual barriers.

Yet, among New York City’s subway stations, a rare relationship exists between the Spring Street and Canal Street stations of the 6 Lexington Avenue Local Line: each station’s uptown train platform is visible from the other. Standing on the platform and looking into the depth of the tunnel with an expectation of either complete darkness or train lights on the track, a blip – the platform beyond – is clearly visible instead. Indeterminable distance, coupled with the sharpness of an illuminated view surrounded by darkness, render the platform miniature. Infrastructure should not go without the inclusion of such subtle experiential delight, politely provoking contemplation of our reference point within the space of the city.

Canal Street Station platform from the Spring Street Station platform

Canal Street Station platform as seen from the Spring Street Station platform.

Spring Street Station platform from the Canal Street Station platform

Spring Street Station platform as seen from the Canal Street Station platform.

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