Clifton Hood, associate professor of history, was quoted on the fire that destroyed a Lower Manhattan transit control room, in the Jan. 25 New York Times story “2 Subway Lines Crippled by Fire; Long Repair Seen.” According to the article, the blaze, at the Chambers Street station used by the A and C lines, was described as doing the worst damage to subway infrastructure since the terrorist attack of Sept. 11, 2001. It gutted a locked room that is no larger than a kitchen but that contains some 600 relays, switches and circuits that transmit vital information about train locations.
Repairs will be made on the A line, but the transit agency, an arm of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, said in a statement that there were “no plans for the restoration of C service in the near future.”
“It seems astonishing that a single signal room would be so central to the operation of the line that it would take five years to recover from,” said Hood. “That's about as long as it took to build that entire line of the IND.”
The first segment of the Independent Subway System, of which the A and C are a part, opened in 1932. The city's three subway divisions were unified in 1940. Hood noted that four stations that were closed after Sept. 11 were reopened in a year.