Tag Archives: The Q Subway Line

Day Sixty-Six: Exploring the new Q subway line up Second Avenue (Shhhhhh) January 27th, 2017

I had some business to do uptown on my way back from Chinatown in Lower Manhattan and had to go to the Metropolitan Museum of Art for the afternoon, so I decided to check out the new Q line stops along the new Second Avenue line. The Q line runs all the way from Coney Island with me picking it up on Canal Street. What an amazing trip!

The new construction of the subway lines has been in the works for almost a hundred years and has recently completed four stops along the Second Avenue line that make travelling to uptown Manhattan a real pleasure. The fact that not too many people have caught on to the line yet makes it even better as there is plenty of room to sit down on the brand new cars and you are not squeezing in like on the number 6 line. If you have ever been on the Number 6 subway in Manhattan at rush hour, you know what I am talking about. Sardines are not squeezed in like this.

I have been on the line twice since it has opened and what a pleasure it is to get a seat and relax instead of someone pushing into your back for a three stop trip to the Metropolitan Museum of Art. The subway car is one of the new ones with the blue seats you do not have to squeeze into and you can see and hear all the announcements. The old joke of everyone is ‘mumbling’ over the speaker is still true on most subway cars in the city. With all the racket going on between the cars, the speakers and the occasional person singing and dancing in the subway car (I don’t think they have discovered them yet), you can’t hear a thing. It is so nice to read the paper in peace on this line.

It is interesting to note that they have been trying to build this part of the subway since 1919. This first phase of the subway route was conceived when it was realized that the ‘Fourth Avenue line’ was over-crowded and needed to ease the congestion.  In 1927, a rapid transit plan was put out that called for a six-track Second Avenue subway line. These plans were abandoned with the Great Depression in favor for completing the IND line. It was revisited again in the 40’s then World War Two broke out.

In 1965, one year after the Urban Mass Transit Act mandated that federal funding be made available for transit programs, the MTA was founded. The Second Avenue Subway plan was proposed  in 1968 with one two-track line stretching from 34th Street to the Bronx. The city broke down in 1972 when the city was granted $25 million in Federal funding. Construction started at East 103rd Street and Second Avenue but construction was halted in 1975 due to the Financial Crisis and the project was abandoned again with only three little tunnels between Chatham Square and Canal Street, 99th, 105th and 110th and 120th Streets. (New York Magazine and Gothamist.com 2016)

With Environmental Impact Studies done in 2004, the project was planned in four phases to be completed between 2004 and 2006.  Ground was broken for Phase One in 2007 at 99th/101st Street and the project was to done in four phases with the first to go from 63rd Street to 96th Streets. Phase Two has been planned to start in 2019 with the line expanding to 125th Street with the last two Phases expanding down to Lower Manhattan. This will create the T Line while bringing back the W Line to Queens. All of this will alleviate the traffic on the 6 Line. (New York Magazine, Gothamist.com).

The best part of the subway line on top of the cleanliness is the artwork. The MTA Art & Design had four different artists create the work for the four completed lines. This creativity starts at 96th Street as you enter the subway with a combination of steel and blue lights and take the escalator down a futuristic tunnel down to the platform and you gaze upon the artwork of artist Sarah Sze. When you see the work from the subway platform, it almost looks like flying papers outside. When you walk the whole platform, you see what she is trying to achieve.

Her ‘Blueprint for a Landscape’ when completed with tile masters from Spain who used porcelain to produce the work. It takes a few walks around to see the true detail of the work. The work is made up of fragmented images of scaffolding, birds, chairs and leaves. It is like being outside in a wind storm. The main body of work on the platform you can see the papers flying around and as you take the escalator up, you see the blue and white scaffolding, which took me two trips to figure out what is was. Off to the side, you see the birds in flight. It is like seeing a day in New York City with the different aspects of the city flying by. The most touching part is the ‘Subway’ poem by Billy Collins (born 1941).

Subway

As you fly swiftly underground

with a song in your ears

or lost in a maze of a book

remember the ones who have descended here

into the mire of bedrock

to bore a hole through this granite

to clear a passage for you

where there was only darkness and stone

remember as you come up into the light

A touching poem to match the beauty of the art work.

At the 86th Street stop you will be dazzled by the artwork of one of my favorite artists, Chuck Close. I had marveled at his artwork when I lived in Chicago at the Contemporary Museum. You always know his work by the powerful real life images that he presents. He created 12 large-scale works that spread throughout the platforms. Really look at the artwork and you will see that they are made of tiny mosaic pieces.

It was also the detailed construction of these pieces and the work that went into creating them that is impressive. There are even two self-portraits of Mr. Close in the station proudly pronouncing his work to subway riders. Take the time to really look at the details of each piece even when security looks at you funny (as they did with me twice).

At 72nd Street, Brazilian artist, Vic Muniz has created a series called “Perfect Strangers” with portraits of real New Yorkers. There are portraits of men holding hands, a policeman holding a popsicle and a man chasing flying papers, who I have read is the artist himself. The artist created this work based on staged photographs on people he knows.

Again really look at the details that created these works. I almost immediately thought I was going crazy when I thought one of them was Daniel Boulud, the famous chef holding a fish in a bag until I read later on that it was him. To see him immortalized in a subway station artwork I thought was a real testament to him as a chef.

The 63rd Street station is not modernistic as the other three stations but still has a sense of newness to it. It is also kept so clean now to match the other stations. Artist Jean Shin work is featured at this station. You really have to go outside the station to see the just of her work which was quoted as being inspired by the idea of illustrating the demolition of the Second and Third Avenue elevated lines.

Her more geometric pieces really show the metal work of a different era as well as her work was based on when “she dug through archives at the New York Transit Museum and at the New York Historical Society and used photographs she found based on the images of everyday riders and pedestrians from the 1920’s through the 1940’s, along with geometric shots of elevated girders being dismantled” (New York Times 2016). It took some reading on my part to figure it out. Again you really have to walk the stop to get the feel of her work.

The best part of these new stops are how clean they are and how well-managed the people from the MTA keep them. The three nights I travelled the new Q Line, the gentlemen from the MTA are constantly mopping and sweeping the cars and the platforms. They take immense pride in taking care of ‘their’ station and it shows in their work. The MTA should proud of how well-maintained these new stations are and should take note for many of their other stations that could use the same TLC.

So this is your opportunity readers to see the subway stops on your way to the Met or the Museum of the City of New York, the Conservatory or even Central Park and see the marvel of how art, commerce and construction and immense creativity on the part of the MTA, the City Planners and dedicated construction workers put their best foot forward and gave the city a living, breathing ‘art museum’ to pass through every day.

But SHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH! We want to enjoy first before the tourist get there.

Update since this Blog: August 1, 2018

According to Our Town Paper of the Upper East Side, the ridership on the new Q line has exceeded expectations as it is stealing riders from the Number 6 line:

The Q/F Stop at Lexington & East 63rd Street:  20,893 riders

The Q/F Stop at East 72nd Street:                         28,145 riders

The Q/F Stop at East 86th Street:                          23,722 riders

The Q/F Stop at East 96th Street:                          17,150 riders

This has eased the Number 6 line by almost 23% to 29% on most of the same stops. Right now there are plans to expand the line to East 125th Street with stops at East 106th Street, East 116th Street and East 125th Street that could be finished by 2029 if the funding from the government comes through. The cost could be around $6 billion; work on Phase One lasted ten years and cost $4.5 billion. The first phase took almost a hundred years to build with most being set up in the early 70’s before the money crunch of the City.

Money very well spent!

(Our Town Newspaper August 1st, 2018)

Day Sixteen: From Inwood to Rockaway Beach-Point A to Point A Subway Ride September 25th, 2015

I decided to take a break from the usual route and again got into the city late again (all those errands) and didn’t start the journey until 1:15pm. I started the trip on the number One Subway and walked down 207th Street to the A Subway at 207th Street. I took the over hour ride from the beginning of the A line to the end of the A line at 116 B in the Rockaway Beach area. This was my first trip to the Rockaway Beach in all the time I have lived in the New York City area. My goal was to go to Rippers, a beach side hamburger stand that had been heavily written up all over the internet and taste the perfect hamburger.

It was a long trip by subway. I sat and read the paper as the various stops passed by with the inter-changing people getting on and off the subway. I have never seen so many guys under the age of 30 with scraggly beards with backpacks and untucked shirts. I swear I think I am seeing a clone of a person with no personality on their way to a 9:00am class. Guys tuck your shirts in already. It isn’t cool!

I finally got to Rockaway Beach  stop 116 in about an hour and a half. I got out of the subway to stretch before getting back on the subway and took the line to the 90th Street stop and got off. It is a scary stop with all the projects surrounding the stop. Once you cross the street and get past the strip mall and closer to the beach, the area gets nicer. The Boardwalk and beach are really nice but it was a very windy day and tough to sit on the beach for any length of time.

Rippers Photo

Ripper’s at Rockaway Beach

Ripper’s was worth the trip. The food and service were excellent. The staff could not have been nicer and friendlier. I had a cheeseburger and fries with a Coke and thoroughly enjoyed it.  According to the Village Voice, the restaurant is a joint venture between Roberta’s, a pizzeria in Bushwick, Brooklyn and the Meat Hook, a butcher in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. The burgers are perfectly cooked and flavorful. After so many bad burgers on this walk, this one finally tasted like a freshly ground burger with the right seasonings. It had a rich beef flavor to it. The French Fries are freshly cut and have been dipped in flour and then flash fried seasoned with black pepper, paprika and salt. They have a salty richness to them as well. The portion sizes are very generous and I did not need dinner that night.

Ripper's.jpg

Ripper’s

The best was the wonderful opera music that the staff was playing which  I thought was a very nice touch and really made for a festive atmosphere even though the ladies at the next table made it clear that they did not appreciate opera music. They were playing ‘The Masked Ball’, which was very enjoyable. With the wonderful music, sounds of the waves in the background and the salt air on this sunny yet windy day made for the perfect lunch. The main reason I went today is that they close next week at the end of September and will not open again until next Summer.

After a nice lunch on the picnic tables outside and a great conversation with staff, I walked over to the beach. It was not a day to lounge on the beach with all that wind and the waves were pretty rough. I saw a couple of brave souls swimming although the red flags were out. I was able to put my feet in the ocean one last time which was nice after such a long trip and the quick on the boardwalk was pleasant after being cooped up on a subway all afternoon. Then it was back to the subway for the trip back to Inwood.

Note to all subway riders, take a good look on each station after you leave the Broad Channel stop and get on the local S train. At each station stop from the 90th Stop to the 116th Stop, there is a stain glass display by each subway sign. Take a good look at the colorful and beautiful work by artist Michael Miller done in 2010. They are very beautiful.

Located at the Beach 90 Station in Rockaway Beach, the artist, who is a graduate of New Mexico State University and the School of the Art Institute Chicago, was given the commission by MTA Arts in Transit and created this piece using the inspiration of his paintings  to make these glass creations. These were created between 2009-2012.

Michael Miller Glasswork

Subway Station 90 artwork by Michael Miller

I stopped in Broad Channel, a subway stop and small island beach community off the Rockaways’. Broad Channel has a nice homey feel about it with all the kids playing in the playground by the school and library, all the American flags up and down Cross Bay Boulevard and several people saying hello to me. I thought it had a down home feel to it. I can still see the effects of Hurricane Sandy from three years ago as some homes have still not been rebuilt while others have redone their homes. Walking the boulevard was a nice way to walk off lunch, see the neighborhood and look at the shore line and the very distant view of Manhattan.

Then came the long trip back to Inwood, I dealt with the on again off again passengers and a large group that came on at the airport stop. For those of you who are flying into New York City and want the cheapest transportation into Manhattan, the A train can be beat. It is a little longer but still a great way to travel.

I got back to 207th Street by 8:15pm, seven hours late and an interesting way to spend the afternoon in search of the perfect hamburger. 207th Street back to the Number One Subway was alive  with people. Many of the outdoor cafes on Broadway and on the beginning stretch of 207th Street were in full swing on this nice but cool night. While 207th Street was not the outdoor flea market like it is on the weekends, it was still lively with people shopping and eating out. I then took the long train ride on the One Train downtown. I got home by 9:30pm. It was a nice trip to the shore.

For those of you who are the adventurous sort, take one of the subway lines from beginning to end. This trip was an eye opener to a part of the city I hadn’t ever visited in all my years coming into New York.

From A to A starts at the 207th Street stop to Rockaway Beach.

Places to Eat:

Ripper’s

8601 Shore Front Parkway

Rockaway Beach, NY  11693

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurant_Review-g616325-d8424950-Reviews-Rippers-Queens_New_York.html?m=19905

Places to Visit:

Rockaway Beach-right in front of you

Broad Channel Island-take time to walk around the island and its small downtown.

Don’t the glass work art at each beach stop by Artist Michael Miller.