BMT Chambers Street Station

Brooklyn Bridge–City Hall/Chambers Street


One of New York City's first BMT stations. At one time it was envisioned as the hub of the system, but now a lack of renovation is conspicuous enough to have made a negative impression on passengers.Famous for its Guastavino Vaults: The Guastavino tile arch system is a version of Catalan vault introduced to the United States in 1885 by Valencian (Spanish) architect and builder Rafael Guastavino (1842–1908). It was patented in the United States by Guastavino in 1892.Guastavino vaulting is a technique for constructing robust, self-supporting arches and architectural vaults using interlocking terracotta tiles and layers of mortar to form a thin skin, with the tiles following the curve of the roof as opposed to horizontally (corbelling), or perpendicular to the curve (as in Roman vaulting). This is known as timbrel vaulting, because of supposed likeness to the skin of a timbrel or tambourine. It is also called Catalan vaulting and "compression-only thin-tile vaulting". Guastavino tile is found in some of New York`s most prominent Beaux-Arts structures and in major buildings across the United States.The Guastavino terracotta tiles are standardized, less than an inch (25 mm) thick, and about 6 inches (150 mm) by 12 inches (300 mm) across. They are usually set in three herringbone-pattern courses with a sandwich of thin layers of Portland cement. Unlike heavier stone construction, these tile domes could be built without centering. Each tile was cantilevered out over the open space, relying only on the quick-drying cement developed by the company. Akoustolith, a special sound-absorbing tile, was one of several trade names used by Guastavino.Guastavino wrote extensively about his system of "Cohesive Construction". As the name suggests, he believed that these timbrel vaults represented an innovation in structural engineering. The tile system provided solutions that were impossible with traditional masonry arches and vaults. Subsequent research has shown the timbrel vault is simply a masonry vault, much less thick than traditional arches, that produces less horizontal thrust due to its lighter weight. This permits flatter arch profiles, which would produce unacceptable horizontal thrust if constructed in thicker, heavier masonry.In popular culture : In the 1986 film Crocodile Dundee, muggers inside the Municipal Building entrance to the station pull a knife on the title character (Paul Hogan) and his girlfriend Sue (Linda Kozlowski); Dundee responds by saying of the muggers' knife, "That's not a knife." Pulling a larger knife of his own, he then says, "That's a knife."

Constructed, 1913