NYC’s Q train recently got a big new subway extension, after nearly a century-long wait for the mythic segment. New Year’s Day 2017 saw the first phase of the “Second Avenue subway” opened — that’s after a 1972 “groundbreaking.” The segment was envisioned in the 1920s.
That is a long wait to help relieve pressure on the east side subways it has been envisioned to do for nearly 100 years. We are seeing it again: politics, budget cuts, and other priorities delayed progress. Carol Berens explains, “A Great Depression, a world war, and a City bankruptcy interfered with the execution of this mythic manifestation.” Until now.
“After nearly 10 years of actual construction and neighborhood misery, three airy, clean and art-filled stations opened for business.”
“Perfect Strangers.” Art by Vik Muniz, image by Metropolitan Transportation Authority of the State of New York
UrbDeZin NYC reports: “Originally planned to run the length of the Manhattan Island, the Second Avenue subway is being operated as an extension of an existing ‘Q’ subway line from the south, ending at East 96th Street to the north. Design work for a second phase to extend to Harlem is supposedly in a near-future capital plan. Long-range plans call for a third phase to run south to Houston Street and a fourth on to the Financial District. Given that the ground-breaking ceremony for this present phase occurred in 1972, the City’s collective breath is not being held.”
Woe again — the expansion depends on Trump’s mood, or the priorities of anti-government people he has put in government positions. The administration’s focus hasn’t been inspiring so far.
The new subway stations are reportedly a new standard for NYC’s famed subway system. Berens writes:
“At the moment, the new stations are a minor tourist destination, one that is making locals smile, at least. The aesthetic of the new stations builds upon previous ones, and with visual connections between levels, creates a sense of openness the old stations couldn’t attain. With its escalators, stairs and elevators, these stations are more accessible than most. A mechanical cooling system, which is not quite air-conditioning, is supposed to reduce the station’s overall temperature in the summer.
“At two stations, white tiles (in this case porcelain panels not traditional ceramic subway tiles) are punctuated by large-scale mosaics created by well-known artists. Vic Muniz (72nd Street), Chuck Close (86th Street) and Sarah Sze (96th Street) were chosen by the MTA’s Arts & Design department from a pool of 300 applicants and were each given an entire station to work with. Most of the artwork is on the mezzanine and entrance levels, not on the platforms. Only the 96th Street station breaks out of the traditional approach. Here the art and the walls are one.”
Talking to one NYC resident, I gather that even these light and lively new additions are only more fodder of the injustice of systematically favoring the richer over the struggling poorer neighborhoods (that need transit much more). My NYC source studies inequality and social issues — she had something to say with regard to the demographics and a look at the things many don’t want to see (demographics, demographics, demographics). Quoting my city source, “I think the bigger story there is that the subway stops at 96th St, servicing the wealthier/whiter area of the upper east side and not Harlem where people are more in need of public transportation :P.”
Any increase in transit is still a wonderful thing.