Second Avenue subway report card


Make text smaller Make text larger


A look at the numbers on the line’s first anniversary


Photos



  • New Year’s Day marks one year since the long-awaited opening of the Second Avenue subway. Photo: Steven Strasser




  • Public art installations in the new subway became attractions unto themselves. Photo: Steven Strasser




Last year, the city’s most exclusive New Year’s Eve party took place in a most unlikely location: 100 feet below 72nd Street in a spotless subway station on the newly completed Second Avenue line.

Dignitaries clad in evening wear toasted with sparkling wine, snacked on locally sourced charcuterie and swayed to live music from a jazz band at the subterranean gala, brushing shoulders with MTA brass, Governor Andrew Cuomo and other elected officials (including, briefly, Mayor Bill de Blasio, with whom Cuomo would go on to feud throughout the year over responsibility for the subway system’s overall decline). Revelers packed onto a train car for a maiden trip up Second Avenue to ring in 2017 and celebrate the city’s first major subway expansion in 50 years. If such a glitzy affair seemed out of place on a station platform, well, as Cuomo said, “This isn’t your grandfather’s subway.”

The following day, the public got its first chance to ride the underground rails originally proposed a century earlier. The New Year’s opening attracted thousands, who made the seemingly endless escalator descent to find the cavernous new stations — bright, column-free and reminiscent of airplane hangars — a far cry from the crowded, dank platforms under Lexington Avenue a few blocks west. Public art installations on the spacious mezzanines became attractions unto themselves. Perhaps most surprising was the sight of completely clean tracks, free of debris and rats.

The new route from Yorkville to Times Square in 15 minutes was pretty nice too.

If some of the Second Avenue subway’s novelty has worn off over its first year, as commuters fell into new routines and the line’s initial sheen gave way to more familiar scuffs, its impact has endured.

At street level, the subway’s opening marked the welcome end of a construction process that disrupted business and traffic on Second Avenue for the better part of a decade. The new stations at 72nd, 86th and 96th Streets each serve tens of thousands of Upper East Siders every day, but with improved access and convenience has come anxiety that rising rents could displace longtime residents and business owners.

The Second Avenue subway’s opening was a bright spot in a tumultuous year for the MTA, and officials have already begun preliminary engineering for the project’s second phase, which requires additional funding and would add three new stations extending the line north to 125th Street. The yet-to-be-funded third and fourth phases will, someday perhaps, extend the line south to its final terminus at Hanover Square in the Financial District.

“The first phase of the Second Avenue Subway has been a resounding success but New Yorkers shouldn’t have to wait another century for the full line to be built,” said Rep. Carolyn Maloney, who has advocated for federal funding to be allocated to the project’s continuation.







Make text smaller Make text larger

Comments



MUST READ NEWS

Image Emerald Empire evicts autos
For the first time since the 19th century, Central Park turns its back on the internal combustion engine, embraces anew its original purpose as an urban refuge
Image ‘I know you guys are not happy’
NYCT President Andy Byford addresses M104 cuts and station closures at UWS forum
Image A First Look at Pier 17
The waterfront space, featuring restaurants, ESPN studios and rooftop performance venue, will soon open its doors to the public
Image One book, 8.5 million readers
New Yorkers can’t agree on anything. Can reading the same book bring them together?

VIDEOS



Subscribe to our mailing list

* indicates required
Neighborhood Newsletters





MOST READ

Local News
A First Look at Pier 17
  • Apr 23, 2018
Local News
Emerald Empire evicts autos
  • Apr 24, 2018
Crime Watch
Crime watch
  • Apr 17, 2018
City Arts News
Bridging generations through music
  • Apr 23, 2018
Local News
Help for the homeless
  • Apr 17, 2018

MOST COMMENTED