Governor Andrew M. Cuomo celebrated the on-time arrival of the Second Avenue Subway – the system’s first major expansion in more than 50 years – with the line’s inaugural ride on New Year’s Eve. The new line’s first ride and celebratory party were co-hosted by MTA Chairman and CEO Thomas F. Prendergast and attended by Second Avenue Subway and MTA workers, local community members, dignitaries, local elected officials and members of President Obama’s cabinet. Attendees rode to each of the new stations and rang in the New Year with a celebratory countdown and toast at the 72nd Street station.
“After nearly a century, the Second Avenue Subway is no longer a dream that only a few still believe is possible. Thanks to the dedication and tireless efforts of thousands of great New Yorkers, the stations are open, the trains are running and it is spectacular,” Cuomo said. “With this achievement, we have recaptured the bold ambition that made the Empire State so great, proving that government can still accomplish big things for the people it serves. New Year’s Eve is all about starting anew and I am proud to ring in the New Year on the Second Avenue Subway and welcome a new era in New York where there is no challenge too great, no project too grand, and all is possible once again.”
The inaugural ride, in a train specially wrapped with Second Avenue Subway logos, included celebratory stops at the new 86th and 96th Street stations, which were previewed to the public at open houses last week. At each of the new stations, participants of the inaugural ride were greeted with the words “Excelsior” and “E Pluribus Unum,” permanently displayed on beams there as New York’s message to people who ride the subways. Guests also had an opportunity to view the public art in each station, part of the largest public art installation in New York State history.
The celebration was attended by many of the workers who helped build the new line’s massive underground tunnels and stations, as well as the workers who will operate the system. Community residents, local merchants, and elected officials also took part in the festivities, along with members of President Obama’s cabinet – U.S. Department of Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson and U.S. Department of Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx.
“This is a grand celebration befitting a truly historic occasion and a proud moment for the MTA,” Prendergast said. “We worked around-the-clock to meet Governor Cuomo’s deadline, and tomorrow the public will reap the benefits of this commitment. We thank the men and women who worked so hard on this massive project, and we hope all New Yorkers enjoy this new line and vastly improved commute.”
During the evening, attendees enjoyed a performance from the cast of “In Transit,” the subway-themed Broadway musical, as well as music by Sunnyside Social Club, a jazz band that’s part of the MTA’s “Music Under New York” program. Food and beverages served at the event were provided by several different local producers from throughout New York State.
The event was co-hosted by the Association for a Better New York, Blasters, Drillrunners and Miners Local 29, Building and Construction Trades Council of Greater New York, Central Park Conservancy, Manhattan Chamber of Commerce, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Municipal Art Society of New York, the Museum of Modern Art, New York Historical Society, the New York Mets, New York State Council on the Arts, New York Transit Museum, Partnership for New York City, Real Estate Board of New York, Regional Plan Association, NYC Sandhogs Local 147, Transport Workers Union Local 100 and the Whitney Museum of American Art.
New Q Train Service
The Second Avenue Subway began service at noon, Jan. 1, with stations opening at 11:45 a.m. Q train service will run from 96th Street, 86th Street, 72nd Street, and 63rd Street, and continue through Manhattan and into Brooklyn, to Coney Island.
From Jan. 2 until Jan. 8, service on the Second Avenue Subway will begin at 6 a.m. and run until 10 p.m. Then, starting on Jan. 9, service will operate around-the-clock. Trains will run every six minutes during peak hours.
The new line also features low-vibration track, for a smoother, quieter ride.
The bright, spacious new Second Avenue Subway stations feature access for the disabled, climate control features to maximize comfort, high ceilings column-free design for an open, airy atmosphere, vibrant lighting and the largest permanent public art installation in state history.
A two-tiered mezzanine design is a fixture of the new stations and improves the flow of riders, reduces crowding on the platform and enhances the overall subway experience for riders.
There are completely new stations at 96th, 86th and 72nd Streets along Second Avenue, and a new entrance at 63rd Street and Third Avenue will allow riders to enter a renovated station for new Q train service there, including a connection to the existing F line.
New Public Art
The new Second Avenue Subway also features the largest permanent public art installation in New York State history, with dramatic, large-scale works by notable artists at each of the line’s new stations.
At the 63rd Street Station, 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 at each of the three station levels.
At the 72nd Street Station, Vik Muniz’s “Perfect Strangers” 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 artwork at the 86th Street Station consists of 12 large-scale works by Chuck Close called “Subway Portraits” – 9-ft-tall mosaic and ceramic tile interpretations of the artist’s painstakingly detailed photo-based portrait paintings.
At the 96th Street Station, Sarah Sze’s “Blueprint for a Landscape” features 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.
By the Numbers
- Workers excavated 583,600 cubic yards of rock & 460,300 cubic yards of soil (more than half the Empire State Building by volume)
- Cubic yards of concrete used in construction: 261,038
- Pounds of rebar used in construction: 48.9 million
- Pounds of structural steel used in construction: 40.7 million
- The new line features 35 new escalators, 12 new elevators, and 22 new stairways
- The new line features 200,000 square feet of floor tiles, 130,000 square feet of ceiling tiles, and 692,000 square feet of wall tiles
- Number of doors: 1,014
- Number of light fixtures: 10,264
- Number of floor drains: 712
- Number of plumbing and bathroom fixtures: 264
Phase 1 of the Second Avenue Subway includes the three new ADA-compliant stations at 96th Street, 86th Street and 72nd Street, and new entrances to the existing Lexington Av/63rd Street Station at 63rd Street and Third Avenue. It will provide service from 96th Street to 63rd Street and will serve more than 200,000 people per day, reducing overcrowding on the Lexington Avenue Line and restoring a transit link to a neighborhood that lost the Second Avenue elevated subways in 1940. The existing Q line will continue through 63rd Street all the way to Coney Island. The new stations will provide transfers to other subway and commuter rail lines. Further phases of the project will extend the line to Hanover Square in the Financial District.
As part of the Governor’s efforts to build a 21st century transportation network smarter, faster and more efficient than ever before, the state has launched a “New MTA” webpage. The webpage offers a one-stop guide to the proposals that are part of New York’s unprecedented $100 billion infrastructure plan to build a new New York.
The Second Avenue Subway expansion is part of the Governor’s sweeping statewide initiative to redevelop and rebuild New York’s aging infrastructure from the ground up. The comprehensive plan includes a new LaGuardia Airport, completely redesigned Penn Station, the LIRR 2nd and 3rd Track projects, the New New York Bridge, a major expansion of the Jacob K. Javits Center, as well as a complete overhaul and upgrades to the MTA’s seven bridges and two tunnels in the metropolitan region.