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Replacing the elevators at uptown A and 1 stations

Updated December 7, 2021

The elevators that served 168 St, 181 St, and 191 St on the train, and 181 St and 190 St on the train, were over 80 years old and were in service since those stations first opened in the early 1900s. As they aged, the elevators became more and more unreliable, and water damage made the reliability issues worse.

Since 2019, we’ve worked to remove elevator equipment at each station and replacing it with new elevator systems within the existing shafts. These new elevators: 

  • Provide faster, more reliable service 
  • Reduce crowding with additional points of entry at 168 St station and 191 St station, and wider doors at 181 St on the train
  • Provide security with two CCTV security cameras in each elevator
  • Use new technology to allow us to respond more quickly and precisely if an elevator malfunctions
  • Add a back-up power supply to allow customers to exit the elevator if there is a loss of power to the station

Schedule of work


190 St  Station: August 29, 2020 - September 2021 (now November 2021)

New elevators at 190 St are now in service! Construction began August 29, 2020. As part of our work, we found unanticipated issues with some of the steel beams that support the elevator shaft. We have now successfully rectified the issue and replaced these distorted beams, and the project was completed at the end of November. 


181 Station: March 2021 - March 2022 December 5, 2020 - December 2021

New elevators at 181 St are now in service! Construction began December 5, 2020 and was completed at the beginning of December 2021. The station, which is listed on the U.S. Register of Historic Places, opened in 1906. It reaches a depth of 122 feet below ground. We were able to accelerate this project so that it took place during a period of lower ridership.

An elevator in a subway station
A subway platform with new elevators on the right side

191 Station: February 2020 - February 2021 November 2020

The new elevators are in service! Construction began February 1, 2020, and wrapped up way ahead of schedule on November 24, 2020, instead of February 2021, dramatically minimizing the impact on our customers.

Inside the spacious cab of one of the new elevators at the 191 St 1 station
Photo of the new elevators and retiled station walls at the 191 St 1 station

181 Station: August 3, 2019 - August 2, 2020

New elevators are in service! The 181 St station opened in 1932, and is listed on the US Register of Historic Places. The elevator carries customers down 106 feet to the lower mezzanine. We have completely replaced the elevators, their components and mechanical equipment. 

A photo of the new elevators at the 181 Street A station at street level
A photo of the new elevators at the 181 Street station at mezzanine level

168 Station: January 5, 2019 - January 2020 December 20, 2019

We're done! trains began serving the 168 St station on December 20, 2019 — weeks before the scheduled completion.

Here's a rundown of everything we did:

  • Replaced the elevators
  • Repaired the elevator shafts
  • Reopened rear vestibules at the lower mezzanine to ease boarding and exiting the elevators
  • Installed a back-up battery to allow customers to exit the elevators in the case of a power failure
  • Replaced all support machinery
  • Installed two security cameras in each elevator cab for increased security
  • Installed new communications equipment to speed up response time if there's any problem with an elevator
  • New lighting in the lower mezzanine
  • Redid the historic tile work in the lower mezzanine, including salvaging old tile and installing completely new tile to match

The station first opened in 1906. It is listed on the US Register of Historic Places. The platform is 102 feet below ground, or about 10 stories. 

Photo of newly installed elevator mechanical equipment at the 168 1 station.
Photo of the restored tile work at the 168 St 1 station