Around the Quads

The First New York City Subway System Was Designed by a College Grad

Subway platform for the number 1 train stop at Columbia University, showing a tiled wall containing a mosaic spelling "Columbia University".


William Barclay Parsons CC 1879, SEAS 1882 was a pioneering figure in New York City’s subway system. In 1894, Parsons became the first chief engineer of the New York Rapid Transit Commission; as part of his work he designed the original plan for the Interborough Rapid Transit subway –– the city’s first underground transit system. The original IRT line opened in 1904, and 116 Street - Columbia University (now a 1 train stop) was part of the first wave of stations that ran from City Hall to 145th Street at Broadway. At Columbia, Parsons was both a co-founder of Spectator and class president.