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New sparkle for historic subway station

Bronx Times

History has made a comeback at a northeast Bronx subway station.

Community groups, and MTA brass cut the ceremonial ribbon for the rehabiliated East 180th Street subway station, where riders take the No. 2 and 5 subways daily.

“This beautifully renovated station is a tribute to the Bronx,” said MTA Acting Chair Fernando Ferrer, the former Bronx Borough President who visited his old stomping ground for the Mar. 15 celebration.

Ferrer remembered the building as a ramshackle structure where dim lighting along its first-floor corridors made for a “relatively unsafe” visit.

Joining Ferrer was current BP Ruben Diaz Jr., remarking on the refreshed transit hub as one that’s sure to “be appreciated by the thousands of commuters who use this station.”

The MTA spent $66 million over the past two years for a top-down restoration of the century-old landmark that sits at the nexus of three neighborhoods - Van Nest, West Farms and Morris Park. The building, akin to an old Italian villa, features a red terra cotta-styled roof, balconies and arches. Inside, mosaic glass artworks by MTA artist Luisa Caldwell are embedded within the tile work. A new clock was also added to the restoration, re-installed on a plaque decked with the head of Mercury, the Roman god of transportation.

Contractor Citnalta donated the clock after company head and history buff Mike Gargiulo was convinced the building needed it.

Funds were also earmarked for rehabbing subway platforms, canopies and track beds.

A new pathway was also installed for wheelchair-bound staphangers who use the station, which is also a transfer point for riders going to and from the local No. 2 and the No. 5 express.

Decades ago, the building was originally owned by the New Haven Railroad, built to serve as a Grand Central Terminal for Bronxites. But the company soon folded, and the city took over the building.

The project came just as Van Nest and Morris Park neighbors celebrate the century-plus anniversaries of their neighborhoods.

“Consider this a present,” quipped Ferrer.

David Cruz can be reach via e-mail at DCruz@cnglocal.com or by phone at (718) 742-3383

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