Operating along the original IRT Flushing Line, the 7 train provides commuters with one of the most important subway connections between the boroughs of Queens and Manhattan. The line services over 250,000 commuters on an average weekday and provides express service in either direction depending on the rush hour time (towards Manhattan in the morning and Queens in the evening). It passes through some of the busiest subway stations in the entire system, such as Times Square-42nd Street, Grand Central-42nd Street, and 74th Street-Broadway in Queens. Many commuters who take the 7 rely heavily on the route’s daily operation.
The line stretches from the Flushing neighborhood of Queens all the way to the far west side of Manhattan in Hudson Yards, with service terminating at Flushing-Main Street and 34th Street-Hudson Yards. The Interborough Rapid Transit Company opened the line in 1915 and has been running the same route since 1927, except for the new terminus at Hudson Yards, which opened in 2015.
The line operated locally on its route until about 1939, when the IRT decided to operate express service because of the upcoming World’s Fair in Flushing Meadows Park, which called for a much faster connection to Manhattan. In 1953, the company experimented with super express service, which saw trains skip every station between Willets Point and Queensboro Plaza before heading into the tunnel and through to Grand Central and Times Square.
The rolling stock on the 7 line consists primarily of the Kawasaki Heavy Industries’ R142A and R188 models. Since the MTA began implementing CBTC technology onto the line in 2018, the original R62A models had to be replaced because they were too old to be incorporated into the automated system. In the 1980s and early ’90s, the line consisted entirely of the R33S and R36 types, which were nicknamed the “Redbirds” for their distinct red color. In Kew Gardens, there is a single R33 car on display alongside the Queens Borough Hall building as a reminder of the historical model.
Now, let’s take a look at the first terminal on the 7 line, beginning in Hudson Yards!