Art / Events / New York City

Art Underground: Second Ave Subway Opens


New Year, New Subway! Nearly a century in the making, the Second Ave Subway is finally ready for its unveiling! The much awaited (and needed) subway line took its inaugural ride on January 1st, and we were one of the very first passengers to step inside these amazing terminals.

Exploring the new Second Ave Subway Interior

There’s much more than just clean floors and fresh paint to the long awaited new addition to the Q train! Read on as we take an in-depth look at two of the terminals and some of our favorite art inside, and discover why this new line is worth the hype.

Looking at the new Second Ave Subway MapMapping the future!

Where is the Second Ave Subway?

The new Second Avenue Subway is composed of 4 stops along the Q line. The first stop, 63rd and Lexington, was an existing station that has been updated. From here the new track runs North with 3 brand new stations: 72nd, 86th, and 96th Streets along 2nd Avenue.

A Historic Day:

A historic day worth celebrating – it is the first subway expansion for the MTA in over 50 years. The Second Ave Subway line was first imagined over a century ago but never happened due to set backs and money woes. The current expansions construction started in 2007, taking nearly a decade from start to finish. The final bill: a staggering 4.5 billion.

Looking down at the Second Ave Subway terminal

A More Enjoyable Ride:

Commutes to the Upper East Side will forever be changed – but there’s more then the ride times with this addition to the Q line! The subway platforms are wide and without poles or barricades to take up room and block your view. The stations are open to the platforms below allowing for a less enclosed space. The tracks are rubberized for a softer ride, and the will also help to soften the noise when the line pulls in station side. While the platforms don’t have AC, they do have temperature controls to help with any summer over-heating woes. Commuters now have vivid LCD screens to give updates, and bathrooms for any last minute breaks.  Getting into the terminal is easier too – large polished escalators and glass enclosed elevators are in each station to help you.

The Art Underground:

Followers know that we love our art – and this display is one we heart. All of the artwork throughout the terminals was commissioned by MTA Arts and Design, and the amazing murals are of what you would find in a gallery or museum. Each terminal was specifically designed by an artist:

  • 63rd Street Station: Jean Shin
  • 72nd Street Station: Vik Muniz
  • 86th Street Station: Chuck Close
  • 96th Street Station: Sarah Sze

A Highlight of some of our favorites:

Vik Muniz Perfect Strangers Art BalloonPerfect Strangers by Vik Muniz (72nd Street Station)

Perfect Strangers, by Vik Muniz

Brazilian artist Vik Muniz wanted to display normal people you see on the subway that you remember distinctly, but regard as a stranger. He took photos of people, some he knew personally, and interpreted them in life size mosaic recreations throughout the terminals.

The man with balloons was one of our obvious favorites. Balloons can be found in a few spots throughout the terminal – a running dialogue and fun photo opp (especially for kids). Love the juxtaposition of the serious suit and the youthful playtime of the balloons.

Vik Muniz Perfect Strangers Art in the Second Ave Subway StationPerfect Strangers by Vik Muniz (72nd Street Station)

Loved this mural with a man who is seemingly running late, and dropping the contents of his briefcase all over the place. The incredible, intricate, and detailed take on the clothing, papers, and even the pants leg is staggering. A must see.

Woman holding shoes mural in Second Ave SubwayPerfect Strangers by Vik Muniz (72nd Street Station)

Another Second Ave Subway favorite – possibly because that has been me with heels in hand more times I can count.

Jazz Musician George Braith at the Second Ave Subway OpeningPerfect Strangers by Vik Muniz (72nd Street Station)

As we were touring the terminal just as it had opened, we came across one of the featured “strangers” on the wall – George Braith, a jazz saxophonist, whose likeness is featured by Vik Muniz on the wall behind him.

The crowds surrond George Braith at Second Ave Subway Opening

He was surrounded by onlookers and “paparazzi” as everyone was eager to learn more about his mosaic feature and his new found celebrity. He told the crowd that the artist took his picture back in 2009 for the mosaic.  Mr. Braith actually invented the instrument he holds in the mosaic (and was playing during the opening), dubbed the “Braithophone” which is two saxaphones he built together.

Jazz Musician George Braith with his signature instrument

He was charming and full of life – and so proud of his depiction, posing for pictures with his fans. “Pretty handsome fellow if you ask me!” (Our little guy couldn’t stop looking at this new instrument!)

Perfect Strangers Tiger Mural in Second Ave SubwayPerfect Strangers by Vik Muniz (72nd Street Station)

These murals are GREEEAAT! A Tony the Tiger costumed capture was one of our favorites. Who hasn’t seen a costumed friend on the subway? Love how the artist chose to unmask this man. The detail and craftsmanship to capture everything from the wrinkles to the whiskers in the costume are amazing.

Police Officer art in Second Ave Subway by Vik MunizPerfect Strangers by Vik Muniz (72nd Street Station)

Love the police officer mural – and that he’s softened (and humanized) by holding a popsicle treat. (I realize that this looks as if our lil guy was reaching for the gun – he was actually pointing to the sweet, promise!)

Vik Muniz Perfect Strangers Mural LGBT CouplePerfect Strangers by Vik Muniz (72nd Street Station)

Love how the artist celebrated so many different nationalities, ages, and walks of life.  Love this couple that is featured- who actually are married in real life.

Self Portrait of Chuck Close at Second Ave SubwaySubway Portraits by Chuck Close (86th Street Station)

Subway Portraits, by Chuck Close

Chuck Close created twelve large scale murals of these painstakingly detailed portraits featured n the 86th street station. Ten of the works are done as mosaic, two in ceramic tile. People in the pieces are those that he regularly features: Philip Glass, Zhang Huan, Kara Walker, Alex Katz, Cecily Brown, Cindy Sherman, and Lou Reed, and included two self portraits.

Self Portrait of Chuck Close at the Second Ave SubwaySubway Portraits by Chuck Close (86th Street Station)

The detail of this self-portrait by Chuck Close is incredible.  Each hair of the beard looks remarkably real, and is in perfected detail.

One of the murals by Chuck Close at the Second Ave Subway OpeningSubway Portraits by Chuck Close (86th Street Station)

Chuck Close Subway Portraits Sienna ShieldsSubway Portraits by Chuck Close (86th Street Station)

The amazing portrait of Sienna Shields.

Chuck Close Subway Portraits EyeSubway Portraits by Chuck Close (86th Street Station)

The walls are watching you. Can’t get enough of the stunning details.

Chuck Close Subway Portraits at the Second Ave Subway OpeningSubway Portraits by Chuck Close (86th Street Station)

One of the ceramic pieces by Chuck Close.

Detail of Chuck Close Subway Portrait Mural

The colorful detail is stunning!

Until next time Second Ave Subway Line!

Read more about the new Second Ave Subway HERE





Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *