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Rome was not built in a day, they say. And neither was New York City or its 24/7 subway system. All good things take time, and more so, when it cuts through some of the densest neighborhoods in America. On our fifth annual pilgrimage through the monumental construction site of the Second Avenue Subway, Dr. Michael Horodniceanu, president of the Capital Construction at MTA, led us through three new stations and 23 blocks of tunnels–from 63rd street to 86th street some 115 feet below Second Avenue.


Metropolitan Waterfront Alliance-2015-Horatio Hownblower-Hudson River-NYC-9Hell Gate Bridge, Photo by Mai Armstrong/Metropolitan Waterfront Alliance

In October 2012, Hurricane Sandy forced us to reconsider how we view the many billions of gallons of water that surround us in this city of islands. While we are still rebuilding from the destruction it wreaked on our habitat, it also reminded us that we maybe haven’t been addressing it so intelligently over the last couple decades. The ocean is right in our backyard (and front and side yards), and while sometimes threatening, it can also be quite useful, and we need to learn how to live with it and treat it better.

That was the general sentiment espoused at the 2015 Metropolitan Waterfront Conference earlier this month, an annual convention of over 700 scientists, planners, academics, builders, seamen, and various others interested in the relationship between surf and turf in the New York City area. Aboard the Hornblower Infinity, panelists argued, elected officials orated, and young professionals imbibed, against a backdrop of Lady Liberty, Governors Island, the East River bridges, and Roosevelt Island sailing by.


Commuters-Isolation-Transit-Toronto-Untapped Cities-Glenn Pritchard20

The TTC (Toronto Transit Commission) carries 525 million people a year and 1.6 million people on a typical weekday, meaning that more than half of Toronto’s 2.8 million people use public transit to navigate the city during the week. Contrast that to the 1.75 billion passengers served per year in New York City and you get the picture, but Toronto Transit Commission subway stops have a rich history and incorporate elements from several periods of design. Today we’ll be looking at the unique design of the system’s stations, similar to what we did with New York City and Montreal.


Hacking the NYC Subway-Ryan Murphy-RISD-86th Street Subway Signs-Image via Ryan Murphy/Hacking the NYC Subway

We’ve all experienced that moment of disorientation as we head out of the subway: are we facing east, north, south or west? Is that an avenue or a street? Ryan Murphy, a student at the Rhode Island School of Design, has taken it upon himself to enhance New York City civic environment through a series of semi-permanent signs he’s installed on the staircases coming out of subway entrances.


MTA Bowling Green Lightbox Program-Photography-Patrick J. Cashin-Second Avenue Subway-East Side Access-7 Line Extension-NYC-004Photo by MTA Arts & Design/Patrick J. Cashin

It’s not the first time the MTA has installed a great photography exhibit at the Bowling Green subway station, as part of the Lightbox Program. This time, instead of foot-tingling photos looking down from New York City’s rooftops, there are large scale images deep underneath the streets of the MTA’s capital projects, like of the Second Avenue Subway, East Side Access and 7 Line Extension taken by Patrick J. Cashin a former Newsweek lab technician and photographer who has been visually documenting the MTA’s projects for fifteen years.


1980-transportation-alternatives-transit-strike-subway-NYCA Transportation Alternatives volunteer directs hordes of inexperienced bikers commuting to work during the 1980 transit strike

We all know how frustrating it is when your morning train has issues. (We’re looking at you, L line!) Now imagine eleven days without subways or buses. By 1980, the city had started to recover from the mid-’70s fiscal crisis, but dealing with union contracts, many of which had been frozen or taken a hit during the crisis, presented a new challenge. In the conventional telling of the story, the Transit Workers Union Local 100 demanded a 30% raise and more days off, the MTA countered with a 3.5% raise and increased productivity requirements on March 31, and the strike began on April 1. The seeming outlandishness on both sides makes more sense with a bit of historical context.