Sunday marked the grand opening of the long awaited second avenue subway extension. The Q line will now run through second-avenue and will stop at 72nd, 86th and 96th streets. The Q line will now run from the Upper East Side of Manhattan to Coney Island in Brooklyn.
The launch of the second avenue line commenced at noon on Sunday, January 1st shortly before noon. A group of train enthusiasts and Upper East Siders boarded the Q at 96th street. The sound of enthusiastic clapping was heard as the train departed towards 86th street.
Governor Andrew Cuomo’s voice was heard over the loudspeaker “Rest assured, I’m not driving the train,” Cuomo quipped.
Train enthusiasts from the five boroughs and all over the world had been waiting to get onto the train since the wee hours of Sunday morning. Among the first commuters on the new line was Kitty Benton, great-granddaughter of William Barclay Parsons, the chief engineer of New York City’s first subway.
According to a report in the New York Times, Kitty Benton, 81, carried a photo of her grandfather in her black tote bag. “My great-grandfather wanted the subway to be attractive …That’s exactly what’s happening here….he would be very proud…I am almost teary eyed, my great grandfather’s vision has been vindicated.” beamed Benton.
Many safety precautions needed to be taken on Sunday to keep commuters safe as many people were eager to get a spot on and to photograph the incoming Q train. First and foremost, MTA workers saw to it that people remained safely behind the yellow line. Among those trying to pacify the rowdy crowd was Matthew Brace, 50, a platform controller.
“I guess they just want a little piece of history” said Brace, as he tried to pacify the rowdy crowd, having already seen the opening of the Hudson Yards station on the Far West Side of Manhattan in 2015, Brace volunteered to work on New Year’s Eve just so he can see the opening of the station. He plans to retire in four years and told the New York Times that “I don’t think I’ll see another opening in that time.”
The new stations offer a pleasant modernist interior. The stations have no columns and the tunnels are built deeper underground as compared to older and not to mention rustier stations. One of the most appealing features of the new stations is the vast array of art work that mounts its walls. In fact the upper level of the 86th street stations contains little else apart from original artwork that commuters and tourists can take in as they pass through the station. Although subway art isn’t new to the city, these new mosaics consume the entire upper level of the station.
Dozens of visitors were in front of the 12 large mosaics by Chuck Close, taking photographs, identifying the people in the portraits and discussing the work. One straphanger noted “I’ve seen his work in museums……..but this is different: You can get right in and touch it.”
In keeping with New York City’s penchant for diversity and the accompanying social change it entails, one of the murals depicts a gay couple holding hands. The murals have the effect of popping out at the viewer, thus drawing the viewer into the inbuilt infrastructure of the city.
Although the official opening of the station took place on New Year’s Day, an inaugural ride from the 72nd street station to the 96th street station took place on New Year’s Eve. Subway officials and their guests had the special privilege of taking the historic ride uptown.
According to the Times, the idea for the 2nd avenue subway gained popular support in the 1920s, but had been delayed because of cataclysmic events such as the Great Depression, financial crises and the allocation of money into other projects delayed the project for 96 years.
The next leg of the project to expand the 2nd avenue subway will cost $6 billion and its aim will be to extend the line all the way to 125th street in East Harlem. Given the pace at which the first leg had been built, it may take another subway fare hike for the project to come to fruition any time soon (not that we are endorsing it).
By: Marcus Garvetzky