New York’s long-awaited Second Avenue subway features some incredible artwork

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Flickr/MTA

New Yorkers will finally get a chance to ride on the long-awaited Second Avenue subway at the start of the new year.

The grand opening has had almost a century worth of delays, but Gov. Andrew Cuomo confirmed on Twitter that the first phase of the line will open January 1. New Yorkers can already see the new line on the Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s subway map.

MTA gave us a sneak preview of the subway and some of its beautiful artwork created by high-profile artists – scroll down for a closer look.


The Second Avenue subway line is a three-stop extension of the Q train. Starting in 2017, the line will travel beyond Lexington Avenue and 63rd Street to service new stations at 72nd, 86th, and 96th Streets.

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Flickr/MTA

The grand opening marks the first phase of the Second Avenue subway line extension. The second phase will extend the Q an additional three stops, to 125th Street in Harlem, but that won’t come for a number of years.

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Flickr/MTA

Source: The New York Times


The line may eventually extend to Lower Manhattan as well.

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Flickr/MTA

The new subway line is expected to service 200,000 riders every day.

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Flickr/MTA

Source: MTA


The first phase cost roughly $4.4 billion.

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Flickr/MTA

Source: The New York Times


The Q extension is expected to ease congestion on the 4, 5, and 6 lines along Lexington Avenue.

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Flickr/MTA

The Lexington Avenue line is currently the most crowded subway line in New York, even beating out the consistently overwhelmed L line.

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As someone who commutes on the 6 train from the 77th Street station, I can attest it gives new meaning to the saying “packed like sardines.”
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Flickr/MTA

Source: The New York Times


But alas, the Second Avenue subway is arriving, and hopefully it will ease the pain of commuting for some New Yorkers. As an added bonus, the new stations feature some beautiful new artwork. The 96th Street station, seen here, features a beautiful display by Sarah Sze.

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Flickr/MTA

Sze created the artwork, called “Blueprint for a Landscape,” by applying color and lines to 4,300 porcelain tiles. The deep blue background is punctuated with birds, scaffolding, and foliage caught up in the chaos of a whirlwind.

Source: MTA


Each entrance of the 96th Street station features a different shade of blue.

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Flickr/MTA

Sze represented the US in the Venice Biennale in 2013. Her work is also featured in the Museum of Modern Art, the Guggenheim, and the Whitney Museum of American Art.

Source: MTA


The 86th Street station features artwork by Chuck Close. Close created 12 large-scale portraits based on his own portrait paintings and prints. Close applied different painting techniques to 10 portraits made of mosaic and two made with ceramic tile.

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Flickr/MTA

Close portrayed different cultural figures, such as Kara Walker, a contemporary artist, who is pictured here.

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Flickr/MTA

Close was a recipient of a National Medal of Arts from President Bill Clinton. He also served on President Barack Obama’s Committee on the Arts and Humanities.

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Flickr/MTA

The 72nd Street station showcases the work of Vik Muniz. The artist photographed more than three dozen people to create different “characters” people encounter on the subway.

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Flickr/MTA

Source: MTA


Muniz recreated all of his photographs using mosaics.

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Flickr/MTA

Muniz was born in Brazil and is based in New York City. His work has been featured in the Museum of Modern Art, the Guggenheim Museum, and the Whitney Museum.

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Flickr/MTA

Lastly, the 63rd Street station that the Q will pass through got an upgrade and features artwork by Jean Shin. She created mosaic compositions based on archived photos of the Second Avenue and Third Avenue elevated train.

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Flickr/MTA

Shin, born in Seoul, South Korea, “has been commissioned by the US General Services Administration and New York City’s Percent for Art program.”

Source: MTA


Overall, the MTA budgeted $4.5 million for the artwork out of the $4.4 billion set aside for the expansion. The artists were chosen starting in 2009 from a pool of over 300 applicants.

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Flickr/MTA

Source: The New York Times