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.
New Yorkers who date back to the mid 1970s will remember the birth of subway graffiti art and Lee Quinones as a prominent figure in this movement. Well known for painting entire subway cars, and credited with painting about 125 cars all together, the Puerto Rico-born New Yorker was part of the respected writing crew The Fabulous 5 (Fab 5). Now, forty years later, Quinones has long since moved out of the subway and into the mainstream–in galleries, museums and private collections all over the world. You may recognize our previous coverage of Quinones within the Museum of the City of New York exhibition, City as Canvas
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.
We came across this Post-It note in the subway with the hashtag #moreloveletters. It reminded us of The Strangers Project, which collects handwritten journal entries from strangers across the country. A quick search led us to More Love Letters, an organization started by Hannah Brencher, a New York transplant motivated by her own loneliness in this city.
As she says in her TED Talk, “I was living in New York City and it felt like the most impossible battle of my day was trying not to cry during random subway rides for no apparent reason. I felt lonely. I felt disconnected…So on those subway rides–the lonely ones where no one talked or said even more than a word to one another–I started writing those same kinds of love letters my mother had written to me and tucking them throughout New York City for strangers to find.”
A 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.
Echo Vault. Photo via Gothamist
We know you guys love to read about New York City’s abandoned subway stations, reveling most recently in a Fun Map of these subterranean fascinations. But what about subway stations that were built but never used? An article today about from Second Avenue Sagas about the 7 line extension station at Hudson Yards, awaiting passengers as the rest of the mega development is completed, reminded us of these. Here are 5 never completed or barely used subway stations in New York City: