For most of the past decade, I lived east of Second Avenue on the Upper East Side, meaning that virtually every day I had to run the gauntlet of construction barricades and debris to get elsewhere in the city. Discussion of creating a second subway line of the Upper East Side to equal the two that run along the Upper West Side had begun shortly after the elevated line had been torn down along Second Avenue in 1919, and any of us who rode the most crowded lines in NYC (the 4-5-6) could see the need. Preliminary work began in 1972, but was suspended due to budgetary constraints until 2007. Ten years later, service began on January 1, 2017, and I couldn’t wait to ride on the first day the Q train ran.
More than a week prior to the trains running, the neighborhood was invited to visit the 96th Street subway stop to see the station. It was surprisingly thrilling to walk into the new station. All the new stations are expansive, clean, and filled with art. I appreciate the entrances as well.
A few more photos from the community preview:
“Excelsior” is the New York State motto, and means “still higher” or “ever upward” (a little ironic as you descend lower into the ground, but I know, it’s about the meaning rather than to be taken literally).
And of course, the United States motto “E pluribus unum,” meaning “Out of many, one” – fitting for New Yorkers who despite their many differences are united as citizens of the city.
I love how the tenement buildings on Second Avenue can be glimpsed through the glass entrance when leaving the station.
On January 1, about 2PM, I entered the station at Lexington and 63rd (but actually on Third and 63rd!) to ride the Q from 63rd to 96th on its first day of operation.
It was actually thrilling to see the train come into the station.
At 63rd Street, the art is by Jean Shin.
Pulling into the 72nd Street Station.
At 72nd Street, the art is by Vik Muniz.
Pulling into 86th Street.
At 86th Street, the art is by Chuck Close, using tiled mosaics to create his familiar portraits.
“Our next and last stop – 96th Street.”
The artist represented at 96th Street is Sarah Sze.
Some of the trains have special decorations:
In the few days since the Second Avenue subway has opened, I have ridden it multiple times, and have been impressed by the convenience and efficiency of the line. I have been telling customers for years that real estate on the Upper East Side east of Third has been a value play and that prices will likely go up with the completion of the subway, and I think that will prove itself true over the next few years. The flip side of this, of course, is that Yorkville may find itself less of a bargain for renters or first time buyers, but this is inevitably the cost of improvements in any neighborhood – they benefit those who bought at lower prices and are ready to sell, but may force some renters out or lead some to be priced out of the area.
In the far distant future, they may extend the line through East Harlem up to 125th Street, and that, along with recently announced redevelopment plans along Second, Lexington, and Madison Avenues in East Harlem, could completely transform that area as well. New York City is constantly changing, and the successful completion of the Second Avenue subway shows that even developments that seemed like a mirage shimmering in the distance can become real – and, eventually, even routine.