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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
    • Decreases crowding on the Lexington Avenue Line by as much as 13%, or 23,500 fewer riders on an average weekday; and
    • Travel time reduced by 10 minutes or more for many riders traveling from the Upper East Side
    sas project alignment map

    New York City's biggest expansion of the subway system in 50 years, Phase 1 of the Second Avenue Subway opened for service January 1, 2017. When complete, the full-length subway line will provide riders with substantially improved transit including:

    • Service extending 8.5 miles along Manhattan's East Side—from 125th Street in Harlem to Hanover Square in Lower Manhattan
    • A connection to the 63rd Street and Broadway Lines—for direct service from East Harlem and the Upper East Side to Midtown West—via the Broadway express tracks
    • 16 new stations serving communities including Harlem, the Upper East Side, East Midtown, Gramercy Park, East Village, the Lower East Side, Chinatown and Lower Manhattan
    • Easy transfers to other subway lines—facilitating smoother, faster transportion between uptown and downtown, and the East Side and West Side—including to commuter rail lines

    Extending the Q Line train through an upgraded and modernized Lexington Avenue-63rd Street station, Phase 1 provides new stations at 96th Street (shown above), 86th Street and 72nd Street. New York City now has a total of 472 subway stations—more than any other underground system in the world—and enhanced service including:

    • Service to more than 200,000 riders daily traveling on the Upper East Side
    • Decreased crowding on the Lexington Avenue Line—by as much as 13% (23,500 fewer riders)—on an average weekday
    • Reduced 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 the Bronx, Brooklyn and Queens

    Comfort and Convenience

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

    • Convenient escalator and elevator access including ADA-compliant access for people with disabilities
    • Air-tempered climate control to maximize customer comfort year-round
    • Column-free construction for ease-of-movement
    • High ceilings to create an airy atmosphere
    • Vibrant LED 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 artworks together comprise the largest permanent 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 train 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 4300 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

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