In Manhattan “Far West” actually isn’t…

With the opening of the MTA’s first truly new station in 25 years, the 7th Ave Extension, we see it hailed in the NY Times as “Bringing the 7 Line to the Far West”.  But that got me thinking, is this now the westerly most Subway station in Manhattan, and if not which one is?  Well it turns out it isn’t even close!  So which one is?  Well, let’s start by reminding ourselves that on an island where anything can (and has) happened, at least once, including having the westerly most Avenue (13th Ave…wha?) created out of the depths of the Hudson by government edict only to be sunk again (again by gubment edict), we may have a little job ahead of us to find the answer to this one.


We start by looking at the “official” MTA map for Manhattan.  With this as our only guide you might be under the impression that the A Line’s 181st Street station is the westerly most station, but you’d be wrong, in fact very, very wrong.  On even a high level examination of the MTA layout on a geographically correct map we find that the 181st Street station is actually EAST of 90% of Manhattan!  That’s of course because the island of Manhattan is not a nice North/South slip of land, in fact it slants from the South West to the North East at a fairly abrupt angle, over four miles left to right from the Hudson shoreline at the southern tip to the shoreline at the northern tip, or roughly a 70 degree angle.  This means if you’re standing in South Cove Park, which is the actual westerly most point on Manhattan, and you were looking due North you’d actually be starring at Weehawken, NJ!

OK, so 181st Street is out, so lets just check the new Hudson Yards 7 Station to be sure.  Nope.  Its A LOT closer than 181st but still noticably east of several stations to the south of it.  So lets hop all the way down the the tip since as we already established the westerly most part of the island is down there.

There are a number of stations around Battery Park and Wall Street, as you might imagine, but two stand out: Rector Street (the 1 line station), and Bowling Green (the 4 and 5 line station).  In fact on first glance these two look to be almost exactly aligned north to south, could we have a tie?  Well, no.  Close, but no tie.  Bowling Green is at 74.014521 degrees west and Rector is slightly to the east at 74.013.  So by  .001521 degrees of longitude we have out winner: Bowling Green [4,5] Station is, by a sliver, the westerly most subway station on Manhattan!


Well that was fun, but what, you may be asking is the westerly most subway station in the entire MTA system?  Well, if I was being pedantic I would say we’ve already answered that: Bowling Green.  I say this because we asked about a “subway” station.  However if we were to re-word our query to be exclude “subway” and ask “what is the westerly most station in the entire MTA system”, well then we have a different story all together.

You see the answer to that question is not the same since we have to go over to Staten Island to find the answer, and technically there are no subway lines on Staten Island, the official name is The Staten Island Railway (SIR); not a single yard of the SIR is underground, so its not, strictly speaking, a subway.

Now that we have that out of the way, what’s the final ruling?  Well, the winner here, by a clear distance, is Tottenville.  It turns out that the Tottenville station is only 8 miles from my “home” base when I stay in NJ!  So technically I could just hop over to Tottenville and take MTA all the way into Manhattan whenever I wanted, but after further investigation that would turn out to be a very bad idea.  Using NJ Transit from Metropark it takes me on average 40 minutes to get into Penn Station.  If I drove over to Tottenville, not counting the time it would take to navigate those short 8 miles in NJ traffic, it would take me 42 minutes just to get to St. George Ferry Terminal, than another 20ish minutes on the ferry (after waiting for the next one to arrive), and then I’d be at the very tip of the island, so another 20ish minute subway ride to mid-town (given that would be my destination).  So for our final competition of the post NJ Transit wins in a landslide: 40 minutes versus 80+ (not including traffic).

So in summary: 1) Bowling Green Station is the westerly most subway station, both on Manhattan as well as the entire MTA, 2) Tottenville is the westerly most station on the MTA, 3) its easier to get into mid-town from central NJ by using NJ Trasit, and finally 4) this post went all over the freakin place (bother figuratively and literally!)

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