ONE EXIT The York Street stop on the F train has only one exit. Aside from the inevitable congestion this causes at rush hour, the layout is dangerous. Though the F line runs particularly deep at York Street, the station has no elevator or escalator. Instead, there is just one stair at the extreme north end of the subway platform, which winds its way up to just one opening at sidewalk level.
York Street is the only subway station in Dumbo. This Brooklyn neighborhood has 4,000 residents, as of the 2010 census, and a working population more than double that. Since then, Dumbo’s population has grown by roughly 20% a year. And most of them enter and leave the neighborhood through this station’s single narrow passage. With the extension of Brooklyn Bridge Park to Jay Street, the station now doubles as the park’s sole transit stop.
On the York Street platform, obstructions block the view of the egress stair. So it’s frustratingly easy to head the wrong way when exiting a train, stranding yourself at the dead end of the platform. But what feels annoying on an ordinary day becomes life threatening in an emergency. In case of fire or a bomb scare, the station is a corked bottle. What’s urgently needed is a second means of egress, barrier free, at the south end of the platform.
YORK STREET’S SECOND ENTRANCE Our proposed south entrance is sited in the existing plaza at the foot of the Manhattan Bridge, where it will bring welcome foot traffic to this underused green space. The plaza is in Dumbo Heights, the fastest growing section of Dumbo. And it has three wide exits to Jay Street—the southernmost at sidewalk level. The plaza’s only drawbacks are its ugly paving, which we would replace and reconfigure, and the lack of a crosswalk at Jay Street, which we would add at the south exit. This entrance will be fully accessible by way of an elevator at plaza level and ramps to platform level. Indeed, we designed the entrance around the central elevator, rather than relegating it to an out-of-the-way corner. Light wells illuminate the stair and bring sunlight all the way down to the token booth level.
YORK STREET’S FIRST ENTRANCE Our plans also address the existing entrance at York Street. Currently, an insufficient number of turnstiles and a poorly located token booth create a circulation bottleneck. We propose to eliminate the choke points by doubling the number of turnstiles and relocating the token booth. Both entrances will feature public gender-neutral rest rooms. The anonymous exterior of the existing entrance also needs an upgrade. We would relocate the garage door out of the pedestrian path, restoring symmetry to the front façade. And the existing louvers would run uninterrupted up the facade, a monumental effect enhanced by a slowly pulsating back light to identify the station and connote the energy behind the subway system that never sleeps.
BRIDGE COLUMNS Hidden midway between the two entrances under a tangle of drain pipes is an architectural diamond in the rough: the massive columns of the Manhattan Bridge. We would remove the pipes and divert the runoff into lighting rings. These would showcase the columns and turn them into glowing fountains when it rains. The lighting will enhance public safety while attracting pedestrians who now hurry through the gloomy passage.