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Seeing New York’s new Second Avenue Subway, it can be hard to believe it’s actually real. That’s due in to part to the fact it’s taken almost a century to happen, yes, but also because of how, well, nice it is. Forget everything you know about the Big Apple’s subway stations. The line’s first four stations, three of which are entirely new, are of course clean, but they’re also brighter, quieter, and more spacious.
Granted, these new stations are not nearly as advanced as those in, say, Shanghai or Dubai. This is New York, after all. But for a city whose cramped and creaking infrastructure was built eons ago, it is a revolution. “For the MTA to make a change is far more difficult than anywhere else in the world,” says Richard Giffen, an associate principal at Arup, which worked with the engineering and design firm AECOM on the project.
First proposed around 1920, the Second Avenue line will eventually include 17 stops on Manhattan’s East Side—from 125th Street in Harlem to Hanover Square in Lower Manhattan. The $4.5 billion first phase opened January 1, and given the project’s epic history—not to mention the skepticism of wary New Yorkers and the bureaucracy of the Metropolitan Transportation System—it’s impressive to see what they’ve done with the place. New Yorkers seem to love it so far.
The first four stations will serve some 200,000 riders a day and ease the cattle-car overcrowding of the Lexington Avenue Line and help those caught in one of Manhattan’s rare transit dead zones. From the start, the designers wanted the the stations to be comfortable, almost inviting, with broad platforms and plenty of light. “Our guiding principle has been to focus on the five senses,” says Arup principle Craig Covil. “To make sure the subway is more livable and more humane from the passenger’s point of view, but also the community’s point of view.” […]