New year, new subway: The MTA says the Second Avenue line will really debut January 1st

By Alanna Schubach | December 20, 2016 - 12:59PM 

On the morning of January 1st, as the city sweeps up confetti in Times Square and New Yorkers stumble home bleary-eyed from the evening's festivities, there's one corner of town that will be fresh and new. Gothamist reports that at long last, the Second Avenue subway will open to the public on New Year's Day. 

It's especially good news for transit-deprived residents of Yorkville and the far Upper East Side: the first segment of the subway line comprises stops at 72nd, 86th, and 96th streets, and then connects to the F at the Lexington Avenue / 63rd Street station before continuing downtown along the N/Q/R/W line.

According to the MTA, this initial phase will serve 200,000 passengers per day, and help to ease congestion on the Lexington Avenue line by as much as 13 percent. Ultimately, the new subway line, which will be called the T, will run all the way from 125th Street to the Financial Distict, terminating at Hanover Square. Work to extend the subway to East Harlem is scheduled to begin in 2019, but the completion date for the entire line remains unknown. 

This isn't so surprising, given that these first three stations were decades in the making. New York magazine dove into its archives and found articles musing on the Second Avenue Subway's progress dating back to 1969. It turns out that the idea for the line was first floated way back in the 1920s, when the Public Service Commission began exploring ways to reduce subway congestion. Over the years, work was disrupted by a series of world events, including the stock market crash and World War II, as well as political maneuvering, and later, disagreements over how best to use public transportation funding.

No surprise, then, that some New Yorkers are dubious about whether the new line will really be up and running come January 1st: 

Perhaps the New York Times' images of the works of art that will be on display in the new stations—which themselves look aesthetically appealing, more so than most other stops—will ease some of the skepticism. Riders can look forward to drawings from Sarah Sze, portraits from Chuck Close, photographs from Vik Muniz, and more public art to enrich their commutes.

Something else the Second Avenue subway will likely bring to the city? Higher property values for Upper East Side homeowners. Renters can expect to see some of those relative deals in Yorkville diminish, too: Crain's writes that rents along the Second Avenue Subway corridor have been increasing at a faster rate than those on parallel avenues. Taxes are expected to go up citywide, too. New transit options, it seems, don't come cheap for anyone.


Alanna Schubach

Contributing writer

Contributing editor Alanna Schubach has over a decade of experience as a New York City-based freelance journalist.

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