When subway commuters got off the E train at the 53rd Street and Lexington Avenue stop Friday, many were confused. There in the middle of the platform was a working escalator.
Gone was the blue painted plywood blocking off an inoperable escalator, gone were the extreme crowds. For the first time in six years, a moving escalator siphoned off commuters to the upper levels of the station.
MTA Escalator No. 254 is privately maintained by the owners of the Lipstick Building at 53rd Street and 3rd Avenue. In 1985 the city let the then owners of the building construct seven more floors in exchange for maintaining an escalator leading to their building.
But when the building owners went bankrupt, the escalator was not repaired. The new owners of the Lipstick Building, IRSA developers from Argentina, spent $1 million to fix the escalator, according to the building's property manager, Heard Square Properties.
The MTA declined to comment on camera. Sources said the MTA decided to keep it low key.