Home Second Avenue Subway Inside — and outside — the Second Ave. Subway

Inside — and outside — the Second Ave. Subway

by Benjamin Kabak

Over at The Launch Box, another subway blogger also named Ben charts the progress of the Second Ave. Subway launch box construction in pictures. In his latest post, Ben links to a CB 8 Second Ave. Subway task force presentation from the MTA. The slides, available here as a PDF, cover the architectural finish and design elements of Phase I of the SAS.

It’s hard not to get excited about this. These images show that the MTA is pretty far along in the planning and design stages of Phase I of this project. Might we actually have a Second Ave. Subway in the next eight to ten years? Without further ado, let’s jump in. All images can be enlarged by clicking.


We start with architectural renderings of the mezzanine at 96th St. The station promises to be light and airy with substantial access points to the platforms and escalators all around. Signs are well marked and easy to read. I believe, though, that by the time this station opens, all available wallspace will be covered in ads. The stations will also be way more crowded than this.


Moving above ground, we see something new from the MTA: open-plaza canopied stations with escalator access. These canopies are very reminiscent of the WMATA’s awnings that popped up in 2005-2006 after years of suffering escalator abuse at the hands of the elements. These SAS entrances are rather ostentatious considering the existing subtle subway entrances throughout the rest of the city.


Above is the street-level view of the 94th St. entrances. According to the presentation, these entrances will feature curved edges and railings to facilitate pedestrian flow. They’ll be hard to miss and with adequate signage as well. Fancy shmancy.


The entrances incorporated into preexisting buildings will be a bit more subtle. The one above is from the building currently at the northeast corner of 69th St. and 2nd. With entrances on both 69th St. and 2nd Ave., straphangers will have plenty of access points at just one of the station’s money entrances. As the PDF shows, each station will have an uptown and downtown entrance. (The 83rd St. entrance of the 86th St. stop has a mid-block access point.)


Unfortunately, as astute Upper East Siders might have realized, that entrance at 69th St. and 2nd Ave. means the end of Patsy’s Pizzeria. The Yelp reviews are decidedly mixed.


For the architects among us, the presentation also gets into details about the ancillary buildings the MTA is constructing at SW corner of 97th St., the NE corner of 93rd St., the NW corner of 86th St. and the NW corner of 83rd St. (with more to come). They’re kind of ugly, but the MTA has designed them to fit in as best as they can with the surrounding neighborhood. These buildings as, for better or worse, a necessary evil of the subway line.

So there you go. You can check out a street overview of the buildings and entrances the MTA plans on constructing. Who knows? Maybe by 2015, we’ll have that Second Ave. Subway after all.

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the transport politic November 7, 2008 - 4:16 am

Could you explain the importance of the ancillary buildings? What’s going in there – air conditioning, ventilation, water? How do existing lines work without so many of these ancillary buildings?

rhywun November 7, 2008 - 8:29 am

> How do existing lines work without so many of these ancillary buildings?

There’s no air conditioning, little to no ventilation, and they flood at the slightest drop of rain 🙂

Marc Shepherd November 7, 2008 - 8:52 am

They’re for ventilation. Many of the existing lines do, in fact, have such facilities. You just don’t know about them because they were built generations ago. Also, the MTA does not publicize where they are located.

Kevin November 7, 2008 - 3:56 pm

These new vent plants will probably replace the old street grates that ventilate existing tunnels, greatly reducing the risk of flooding in the event of a storm.

Judge November 7, 2008 - 8:24 am

Huh. The MTA might actually make those ancillary buildings look better than some of the new buildings going up in the city.

Cap'n Transit November 7, 2008 - 9:43 am

Some of the MTA’s older “ancillary” buildings are quite nice-looking. Many of them have cool Art Deco styles. There’s one at the corner of West Thirteenth Street and Greenwich Avenue.

Benjamin Kabak November 7, 2008 - 11:05 am

That’s exactly the one I was going to point to. That’s a good one.

Mostly, if you don’t know these things are MTA buildings, you can’t really tell. The substations and ventilation buildings are all over the place.

I think these new ones stick out because of stringent engineering requirements. The MTA used to be able to convert older buildings into ancillary buildings. Now, they have to comply with newer standards. That is, at least, my guess.

Kid Twist November 7, 2008 - 10:52 am

Cool stuff, Ben. Thanks!

The Word on the Street, About Meat - City Room Blog - NYTimes.com November 7, 2008 - 12:17 pm

[…] The Metropolitan Transportation Authority has unveiled some images from the plan for the Second Aven…, which, because of budget setbacks, will very likely be serviced by horse and buggy. [2nd Ave. Sagas] […]

herenthere November 7, 2008 - 9:31 pm

When push comes to shove, the MTA will undoubtedly scrap these fancy, although sorely needed and greatly designed, station entrances. Although they should still have a canopy above those sidewalk entrances.

Jaquan January 11, 2009 - 6:14 pm

I just think that the mta will regret the way they designed the second ave subway I would understand if the subway was scaled back, I could respect original station entrances compared to its new counterpart(there’s already one at the bowling green station). In conclusion I would take a scaled back second ave subway design with for a 4 track subway with normal entrances, rather then a more advanced subway with escalators, fancy station entrances and elevators at every station.


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