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.