Hard to believe it, but the fabeled 2nd Avenue Subway is NOW OPEN FOR BUSINESS!!!
Riders on Tuesday, the first full day of Second Ave. subway service after the New Year’s holiday, said they were relieved to finally ditch the congested Lexington Ave. line, long walks across avenues to the train and painfully slow crosstown buses for the Q line that is now at their doorstep.
See more pictures. YES, it is for real!
Hundreds came out New Year’s Day to ride the train in New York City, cheering as it left the station. That may sound odd, but this wasn’t just any subway or any old station, it was the stuff of urban legend: the Second Avenue subway line.
To understand the crowd, you have to go back to the 1920s when the idea for the subway line was first floated, but never left the station because the Depression hit.
The idea was revived again in the 1950s as a replacement for the elevated trains, but city planner Robert Moses decided to spend money building expressways instead.
In 1968, the city finally got federal funding to build a subway on Second Avenue. It was expected to cost $220 million. The TV show Mad Men even worked in a reference to the plan when Peggy Olson, one of the main characters, goes apartment hunting on the East Side that year on the show.
But it didn’t happen because in 1975 the city was broke.
By the 1990s overcrowding on the sole East side line had become untenable so the idea for a Second Avenue subway line was revived, and in 2004, a plan was approved. The first phase would include three new stations that go from 72nd Street to 96th Street. The Metropolitan Transit Authority even gave a deadline: 2013. And a cost: $3.8 billion.
But the public was skeptical, as that deadline was pushed back to 2015 and costs crept up. The MTA finally settled on Dec. 31, 2016.
On New Year’s Eve, at a newly renovated station on 72nd Street, Gov. Andrew Cuomo held an opening night party. There was a five-piece band, a newsstand was converted into a beer bar, and the cavernous station was filled with purple, pink and orange lights. The governor helped secure more than a billion dollars in federal funding for the project and the MTA, and appoints their board members. At the New Year’s Eve party he told the more than 500 invited guests that the Second Avenue Subway is vindication of his vision.
“We needed to show people that government works and we can still do big things and great things and we can still get them done,” Cuomo said.
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. The new line’s first ride and celebratory party were cohosted 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 will ring in the New Year with a celebratory countdown and toast at the 72nd Street station.