174th street Subway Yard

Published on: November 19th, 2015 Written by:

C train in the yard

The 174th street subway yard is a cavernous space under Washington Heights that is currently used to store C trains.

The subway was originally built by the IND, which was a forward thinking company plotting on building numerous subway routes that never came to fruition. It has been long said that this yard was actually built as a provisions for a subway route that was suppose to go over the George Washington Bridge. Indeed, the wall at the very end of this tunnel is right up against the Trans-Manhattan expressway.

174 Yard Trackmap
Track Map of the Yard & surrounding tracks.

It features 5 tracks – 4 of which are used to lay up C trains (the fifth track is too short to fit a full length subway – I’m not sure why it was built).

Coming north from 168th street, the two center tracks ramp upward, allowing the southbound A tracks to pass underneath.

Due to the limited space within this yard, at least one train is often laid up on the yard lead tracks
C train on the Yard Lead

Looking back towards the yard leads / 168 street

“The Cavern Crossover”

The two tracks come to a large cavern with a crossover allowing access to 2 sets of tracks. The 5th track splits off deeper into the yard.

Some impressive historic SaneSmith graffiti can be found here.

The only exit close to the yard

At the northern edge of this cavern, there is an abandoned control tower.

Abandoned Tower

The walls, of course, are all covered in graffiti – much of it historic in nature.


Historic Tags from when kids came here to paint trains in the 1970s and 1980s

There’s also some worker graffiti, in official MTA maintenance paints.


Parked Trains

At the very end of the yard, the tracks dead end at the wall.



There’s a tiny utility room here, stocked with some subway car cleaning materials. I’m not sure why this room exists – car cleaners usually perform their duties in terminal stations, not deep into dark layup yards where there aren’t even bench walls to provide easy access.

Maintenance room

“A5” track

The Short “A5” track is usually devoid of train cars, since it’s too short to fit an entire full length C train. (The track is perhaps 4-6 car lengths long at most). This track likely would have had some purpose had the route over the GW Bridge been built, though I haven’t seen any planning documents on what the intent of constructing this track was.

The walls all around the layup yard are covered in very old tags, and some slightly more recent



MUL Goonz


This is one of the darker, secluded layup yards in the subway system. It is far away from active subways passing by. It’s eerily quiet, and many workers rate it as one of their least favorite places to have to park a train at night.

4 responses to “174th street Subway Yard”

  1. Mr. Blizzard says:

    Really great photos – so glad there’s old stuff still running. Thanks for posting these – it’s really refreshing to see there’s some “real” old New York left…

  2. Mitch45 says:

    Fascinating stuff. Just when you think you know all of the subway’s secrets, here’s another. Now, if you could just get behind The Cinder Block Wall and solve the 76th Street Mystery once and for all.

  3. PegLegGuy says:

    Great pics Control!

    Had a job there (FDNY) around 1977.


  4. Ant says:

    I’ve actually visited there yesterday and it was cool but also scary. I mean it was my first hand experience on the NYC tracks and I swear I was on high alert. I remember going up on the A2 track thinking its all good, since its usually the track left empty when the trains are layed up. I continue to go and I see a work train parked up there. It was one of those diesel powered ones. I went back down and went across to the A1 track and was hiding behind the R160. Luckily I made it all the way in. Even got me a pair of work gloves.

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  • About The Author

    Bad Guy Joe

    Bad Guy Joe
    Bad Guy Joe knows more about the NYC underground than anyone else on or below the surface of this planet. He has spent nearly 30 years sneaking into NYC's more forbidden locations. When not underground, he's probably bitching about politicians or building something digital. 
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