The crammed data processing rooms, which mainly had female employees who handled documents and recorded operations, 1957. Courtesy of the New York Transit Museum
While the large, limestone, window-lined facade of Brooklyn’s 370 Jay Street looks like your typical office building, it actually played a large role in architectural history and currently functions as an operations headquarters for the New York City transit system. The New York Transit Museum’s new exhibit, The Secret Life of 370 Jay Street, will soon reveal the building’s significance to the public.
For 50 years, organizations like the Transit Authority, New York City Transit, and Board of Transportation have used the building as an office. This has somewhat limited people’s knowledge of its significance, as the building once had cool aspects such as a secret second floor elevator used to transport money, the Subway Command Center, and a Lost and Found Department containing abandoned umbrellas.
Starting October 28 and lasting until May 2016, the exhibit will showcase the building’s history, how it currently functions, and its future through photos, architectural sketches, and maps.
370 Jay Street was built in 1951 as part of the post-World War II Brooklyn Civic Center Urban Renewal project. Since it helped set the architectural standards of the modern office building, the exhibit will touch on the physical aspects of the building and explore concepts like sustainability and urban planning. However, it will also delve into the the building’s history and significance in the evolution of New York City’s transportation system.
A Money Room employee uses the GPS 1000 high speed mixed currency counter and sorter to process 30 bills per second, 2006. Credit: Patrick Cashin / MTA New York City Transit
Another view of the crammed data processing rooms, 1957. Courtesy of the New York Transit Museum
In 2012, New York University and the city of New York agreed to renovate the building into a sustainable hub for NYU’s growing engineering programs. Renovation commenced last winter and will be complete in summer 2017 as part of the university’s goal to “transform the long-empty 370 Jay Street building into a global center for science, technology, and education—and a driving force in Brooklyn’s economic revolution.” Thus, a grant from NYU helped bring this exhibit to come to life.
370 Jay Street has changed over the years, so be sure to experience the exhibit soon as the building once again enters a new phase in its life.