Image source: NYCUrbanScape on Flickr
The NY Post wrote a piece about the continuing local resistance to changing established subway signs. New Yorkers love the old signs – what they say, not necessarily their appearance – that might not even be totally accurate anymore. The MTA attributes it to strong neighborhood identity. According to MTA spokesman Charles Seaton, “Anytime we have tried to change the name, community residents have objected. Keeping the original name of a station maintains a historic link that is important to a lot of folks.”
Subway stations retain signs listing places and streets that no longer exist [NY Post]This would explain why you still see the name “Grand Avenue” at the 30th Ave station on the N/Q in Astoria. And why the “Grand Avenue-Newtown” stop on the M and R really has nothing to do with Newtown anything (it refers to a time when the township of Newtown had a farther reach).
We’ve seen resistance to change when it came to renaming the Queensboro Bridge as the Ed Koch Queensboro Bridge. Many folks in Queens continue to call it the Queensboro despite the official change.
That said, changes can be made, for a price. They are called “naming-rights” and are a common vehicle for fundraising because they can command a high price. According to the article, station naming-rights were fulfilled for $4 million at the Atlantic Avenue-Pacific Street station in Brooklyn in 2009. The station, now called “Atlantic Avenue-Barclays Center,” will keep the name for 20 years, until 2029.
The MTA is open to additional arrangements like this one, too. And since the agency seems to constantly be out of money, naming-rights are likely an appealing option.