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    Second Ave Subway Facts

    The Second Avenue Subway reduces overcrowding and delays on the Lexington Avenue line, improving travel for both city and suburban commuters, and provides better access to mass transit for residents of the far East Side of Manhattan. The line is being built in phases; the first phase of the Second Avenue Subway provides service from 96th St. to 63rd St. as an extension of the Q Line train.

    Phase 1 Benefits

    • Serves approximately 200,000 daily riders
    • Significantly decreases crowding on the Lexington Avenue Line
    • Travel time reduced by 10 minutes or more for many riders traveling from the Upper East Side

      Phase 1 extends the Q Line train to provide an upgraded and modernized Lexington Avenue-63rd Street station and new stations at 96th Street (shown above), 86th Street and 72nd Street. New York City’s newly expanded subway system now has 472 stations—more than any other underground system in the world—to serve more riders with enhanced service.

      Phase 1 of the Second Avenue Subway delivers:

      Service to daily ridership approaching 200,000 on the Upper East Side
      Reduced A.M. peak overcrowding on the Lexington Avenue line by an average of 40% at corresponding stations
      Shorter travel times—by up to 10 minutes—for riders on the far east side and those travelling between the Upper East Side to the West Side of Manhattan, and easier access to Brooklyn and Queens

      Comfort and Convenience

      The Second Avenue Subway’s state-of-the-art stations include the following features:

      Fully ADA-compliant access including escalators and elevators, platform-edge warning strips, and wide corridors and entranceways
      Air-tempered climate control to provide customer comfort during summer months
      Column-free construction for ease-of-movement
      High ceilings to create an airy atmosphere
      Vibrant lighting
      Modern digital signage delivering transit announcements and information
      Low-vibration track for a smoother, quieter ride

      Commissioned by MTA Arts & Design, the Second Avenue Subway’s Phase 1 station art collectively comprises the most expansive permanent public art installation in New York history. These art installations represent the vibrance and cultural diversity of New York—a city continually on the move.


      Jean Shin – 63rd Street: Elevated, 2017, Laminated glass, glass mosaic, and ceramic tile

      Jean Shin’s installation, Elevated uses archival photographs of the 2nd and 3rd Avenue elevated trains to create compositions in ceramic tile, glass mosaic, and laminated glass. The imagery is manipulated and re-configured and each station level provides a unique focus, palette and material. At the 3rd Avenue escalator, the view is filled with ceramic tile depicting construction beams and the cranes that dismantled the El in the 1940s. At the 3rd Avenue mezzanine, a mosaic reveals the sky where the train had previously been present, and features images of people from the era in this neighborhood transformation. The platform level features semitransparent and reflective materials showing vintage scenes of the neighborhood, while enabling contemporary viewers to see themselves in the cityscape of the past.

      Vik Muniz – 72nd Street: Perfect Strangers, 2017, Glass mosaic and laminated glass

      Perfect Strangers by Vik Muniz features more than three dozen characters created in mosaic and installed throughout the mezzanine and entrance areas, populating the station with colorful images of all types of New Yorkers. The main station entrance features a laminated glass canopy at street level depicting a flock of birds, bringing art and nature to the busy location. Within the expanse of the mezzanine concourse, the life size figures provide bursts of color and visual interest and an opportunity for new discovery with every trip through the station.

      Chuck Close – 86th Street: Subway Portraits, 2017, Glass and ceramic mosaic, ceramic tile

      Chuck Close in Subway Portraits has created twelve large-scale works that are based on the artist’s painstakingly detailed photo-based portrait paintings and prints. His various painting techniques have been interpreted in ten works as mosaic, and in two as ceramic tile. The artworks measure close to nine feet high and are placed on the walls at the station entrances and the mezzanine concourse. The people portrayed are cultural figures that have frequently been his subjects, including Philip Glass, Zhang Huan, Kara Walker, Alex Katz, Cecily Brown, Cindy Sherman, and Lou Reed, as well as two distinct self-portraits.

      Sarah Sze – 96th Street: Blueprint for a Landscape, 2017, Porcelain tile

      Blueprint for a Landscape by Sarah Sze profoundly impacts the look of the station as her imagery is applied directly to nearly 4,300 unique porcelain wall tiles, spanning approximately 14,000 square feet. The designs feature familiar objects – sheets of paper, scaffolding, birds, trees, and foliage – caught up in a whirlwind velocity that picks up speed and intensity as the composition unfolds throughout the station with references to energy fields and wind patterns. Each entrance features a different shade of blue and a blueprint-style vector line design, a visual theme that is integrated with the architecture.

      For further information on MTA Arts & Design and its art, visit

      1929 – First proposal for Second Avenue Subway introduced

      1939 – 1945 Revised Second Avenue Subway proposal shelved as World War II begins

      1972 – 1975 Federal funding granted to begin Second Avenue Subway but fiscal crisis in 1975 put project on hold

      2004 – MTA proposes Second Avenue Subway line running from 125th Street to Lower Manhattan

      2005 – November – New York State passes Transportation Bond Act, partially funding the construction of the line

      2007 – April – Ceremonial groundbreaking at 96th Street Station

      2007 – November – US Secretary of Transportation Mary Peters announces $1.3 billion of federal funding for Phase I of the project

      2010 – May – Completion of Tunnel Boring Machine (TBM) launch box

      2011 – March – With 65th Street tunnel complete, drilling begins for east tunnel

      2011 – September – TMB completes its run to the 63rd Street Station

      2013 – February – All controlled drill and blast excavation completed at 72nd Street Station

      2013 – February – MTA Awards Contract to Build Second Avenue Subway Station Finishes at 72nd Street

      2013 – June – MTA awards tenth and final contract to build Phase 1 of the project

      2013 – July – 72nd Street muck house removal complete

      2013 – July – Community Information Center opens at 1628 Second Avenue

      2013 – November – Heavy Civil and Site Work completed at 96th Street

      2013 – November – Blasting at 86th Street completed, marking the end of all blasting for Phase 1 of the project

      2014 – January – Cavern Mining, Tunnels and Heavy Civil Work completed at 72nd Street

      2014 – January – 69th Street muck house removal complete

      2014 – February – Removal of worker "hoghouse" facility at 70th Street complete

      2014 – April – 84th Street muck house removal complete

      2014 – October – 86th Street muck house removal complete

      2014 – December – Cavern Mining and Heavy Civil Work completed at 86th Street

      2014 – December – Removal of worker "hoghouse" facility at 87th Street complete

      2015 – May – Phase 1 is 82.3% complete

      2016 – April – Track installation completed

      2016 – July – All stations connected to permanent power

      2016 – September – Track geometry car inspection conducted

      2016 – October – New York City Transit begins pre-revenue service training; 63rd Street Plaza opens

      2017 – January 1 – New Second Avenue Subway begins revenue service

      Exhibits make their online Debut

      Since opening in July 2013, The Second Avenue Subway Phase 1 Community Information Center has welcomed more than 25,000 visitors, who among other activities, have explored the five interactive exhibits displayed there. For those who could not make the trip to the center, the first of the five exhibits, The History of the Second Avenue Subway: Transit More than 80 Years in the Making, can now be viewed online.

      The exhibit traces the history of the Second Avenue Subway from an idea in the 1920s through the planning and construction of Phase 1 and includes archival photos, videos, working documents, and news clippings. The exhibit highlights the many plans to build the line, including an effort in the 1970s that saw construction of tunnels in both lower Manhattan and East Harlem.

      To peruse the exhibit, click here: The History of the Second Avenue Subway: Transit More than 80 Years in the Making

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