About 3:26 p.m. on New Year’s Day, I entered the new subway station on 72nd Street and Second Avenue. It felt like was going to an event because I was surrounded by many excited New Yorkers. My first impression of the new station was how deep underground it was. Most subways in New York are only a few meters down, but this one required a escalator ride down before I even reached the turnstile openings. Then the stairs led to the platforms of the Q line.
The Station artwork is the artwork “Perfect Strangers” by artist and photographer Vik Muniz. His artwork consisted of 36 portraits of real people who look like they are waiting for a train. These portraits, which are based on pictures of his acquaintances, are scattered along the exits and mezzanine. Muniz also has a portrait of himself, running after a wayward suitcase while papers fly away behind him. A married same-sex couple is also depicted, marking the first permanent, non-political LGBT art in New York City. The depiction is based on a Brooklyn same-sex couple and is meant to showcase the “day to day normalcy of gay New Yorkers.”
About 3:36 p.m., the uptown bound Q train finally raced in the station. I aboard the train and crammed into a corner seat. As the door closed and the train proceeded to move, I remember feeling excited to experience this moment with the other colorful commuters. One thing that caught my attention was the ride’s flow. I heard that these subway tracks had been insulated. It showed as the Q train sped softly up the East Side. Straphangers in New York are generally accustomed to the nearly deafening screeching of the train cars’ wheels against the metallic tracks, especially waiting for them on the open platforms. That absence here made for a more pleasant commute.
“This is life-changing for me,” a blonde-haired woman with a Starbucks cup told me. “Now, I don’t have to worry about squeezing into the train on Lexington Avenue during the rush hour.”
“Yes, that Lexington Avenue line is crazy.” I said. “It is known for being notoriously crowded. I grew up taking that line to school and work. I think this line now is going to help decrease the amount of commuters riding the 4 or 5 train.”
“Agreed.” She responded.