The subway platforms on Broadway at 86th and 96th Streets were extended, crosstown bus service had been established, and the local station at 91st Street Street was deemed unnecessary by transit officials.
But we do have old photos to show us what the little station looked like. Ninety-first street was barely a generation old when the subway opened, but it helped bring new residents and beautiful apartment houses—like the Apthorp and Astor Court at 90th Street—to the newly developed Upper West Side.
Their unique domes and slender design were modeled after subway kiosks in Budapest, a city whose circa-1896 subway system was almost as new as the first section of the New York City system.
Underground, however, the 91st Street station remains. If you look closely out the window of the 1, 2, or 3 train passes 91st Street, you can make out the abandoned station, with its ghostly platform and walls covered in graffiti.
I’m not aware of any tours of the station open to the public. But back in the late 1990s, the New York Transit Museum (based in a decommissioned ghost station of its own at Court Street in Brooklyn) did operate a tour of the 91st Street Station.
Writer Andre Acimen visited it and gave this report in a 1999 New York Times article:
“The conductor opened the front doors only, and to the baffled gaze of other passengers, we finally stepped out,” wrote Acimen.
“Wandering though this modern underworld, I tried to think of the great poets and the caves of Lascaux and ”Planet of the Apes,’ but all I could focus on as I negotiated my way through a thick mantle of soot was dirt, rats and a faint queasiness.”
“The platform was filled with trash: broken beams, old cardboard and a litter of foam cups. This wasn’t just the detritus of a subway station, but the leftovers of mole people,” stated Acimen.
[nycsubway.org has some incredible contemporary photos of the abandoned station, and Joseph Brennan’s Abandoned Stations site has excellent detailed info on 91st Street and other shuttered subway stops.]
[Second photo: MCNY, 1955; x2010.26.103; third photo: NY Transit Museum, 1957; fourth photo: MCNY, 1955, x2010.26.100; fifth photo: MCNY, 1955, x2010.26.99; sixth photo, Christopher Cook/Wikipedia]