Where is Broadway at 66th Street and at 72nd Street?

by johntauranac

If you believe the official MTA subway map, Broadway at 66th Street – that’s the Lincoln Center station – is west of Amsterdam Avenue, between Amsterdam and West End Avenues, while Broadway at 72nd Street is also found between Amsterdam and West End Avenues, only even further west.

That is where Broadway has been on the subway map since the prototype you see on the left was printed in a limited test run in 1978, where Broadway was in the first printing of the map in 1979, which you see in the middle, and where Broadway has remained in every iteration since. The map on the right is today’s map, 2012.

Yes, it’s wrong. Broadway is nowhere near where the maps depict it.

Broadway at 66th Street is not west of Amsterdam Avenue, it is just west – less than 100 feet west – of Columbus Avenue. Its junction with Columbus Avenue is a block south, at 65th Street, and Broadway is so close to Columbus Avenue that because of its angle, the southernmost exit of the downtown platform of the 66th Street station comes out on Columbus Avenue itself.

And Broadway at 72nd Street is not between West End Avenue and Amsterdam Avenue, it is smack at the junction of Amsterdam Avenue, a problem that has been exacerbated in the 2012 printing, which shows Broadway even closer to West End than to Amsterdam. The venerable control house south of 72nd Street straddles Broadway and Amsterdam, with Broadway on its east side; the new control house north of 72nd Street likewise straddles Broadway and Amsterdam, this time with Broadway on its west.

In some of my holier than-thou-moments, I have been known to assail Massimo Vignelli, the designer of the diagrammatic 1972 subway map, for such egregious geographical mistakes as having Bowling Green north of Rector Street, and with having Broadway west of Eighth Avenue at Fiftieth Street.

The mistakes on the quasi-geographic map are every bit as egregious and every bit as misleading as the two cited above. The particular irony is that unlike the diagrammatic map, the quasi-geographic map was specifically designed to show the operation of the subway in relation to the city it serves. The goal was to put things in perspective.

I chaired the subway map committee for the bulk of its existence in the late 1970s, I was the design chief of the 1979 subway map and the one who signed off on the map, and I readily and embarrassedly admit to having missed these mistakes.

I have never heard a peep about these errors, and I have to assume that nobody else has ever noticed them.  At least I assume that nobody has pointed out the problem to anyone in authority at the MTA, because the problem not only lives on, it is becoming worse.

I noticed the problem myself only the other day while embarked on another venture.

This is my “mea culpa.” Oy vay. Stay tuned.