Wednesday, January 4, 2017


Hey, Cuomo -- no drinking in
the subway!
It's not often I have the chance to participate in an historic event. Actually, it's never, at least until New Year's Day, when my wife and I rode the first train on the Second Avenue Subway. 

Well, technically, it was the second train. Gov. Andrew Cuomo and a couple hundred of his well-heeled friends rang in 2017 at the stroke of midnight by riding from 96th to 72nd -- none of whom ever stepped in a subway station before, and never will again. 

Or eating, either!
Unlike the working stiffs who have to ride the subway, this crowd actually threw a damn party in the 96th St. station, complete with locally-sourced chow. Oh, isn't this charming! Do they always serve Champagne and kale salad down here? And what is this thing I keep hearing about called a MetroCard? 

Things were a little different for regular shlubs the next day. No local cheeses, charcuterie -- what you or I call salami -- or "winter crudite" for us. (The only "winter crudite" I know of is the frozen dog shit in the middle of the sidewalk in February.) 

Funny, I didn't see any of Cuomo's pals in line with us.

Expecting to enter at 86th, we were delighted to see there was an entrance on 2nd between 84th and 83rd, two blocks closer to our place. Typical for New Yorkers, the people getting on line after us were genuinely surprised that they weren't the only ones who wanted to do this. Which is ironic, since 95% of them vote exactly the same every election. 

Commuters who still haven't had their morning caffeine IV-drip will be startled to see Chuck Close's iconic portrait of Philip Glass greeting them inside the 84th St. entrance. Anyone who doesn't recognize him probably will probably wonder, Why do they have a picture of the guy I just saw asking for spare change? Perhaps this will inspire his next composition, Einstein on the Subway

Designed by
Alfred Hitchcock.
While I already got an idea of what the subway was like during a sneak preview in late December, this was my wife's first time. She was quite impressed; I admit to being a little more dazzled than I was initially. It's a long, sleek station, lacking defaced advertising posters (so far). It's also far deeper underground than the Lexington Avenue line. If you enjoy a bout of vertigo, be sure to put the 84th St. station escalator on your to-do list.

Whatever sense of decorum there had been among the crowd dissipated when we got to track level. Everyone dashed to the car closest to them as if they were in a remake of Invasion of the Body Snatchers. My wife and I snagged a couple of seats, and waited patiently as the car continued to fill up. When an announcer welcomed us onboard and congratulated us for riding the inaugural Second Avenue Subway train, we all cheered. 

Wait, we paid $2.75 to see a clean station?
Without rats?
The sub rosa speedway cheering continued when the doors finally closed and the train  moved. All the passengers stared through the windows to see what a clean tunnel really looked like, so we could share these memories with our grandchildren one day. Did you know that the tunnel walls are actually a grayish white, and not soot black and covered with mold?

But just to remind us that this was the New York subway and not a magic coach to the land of Oz, we pulled into 72nd, and remained there for 15 minutes. The announcer apologized for the delay, blaming it on the usual "traffic congestion up ahead." 
And only a century in the making.

"How the hell can there be traffic congestion," I demanded of my wife, "when we're on the first train out of the station?" Before she had a chance to reply -- like she really cared to -- I remembered that the Second Avenue Subway was merely an extension of the Q line, and not a line unto itself... which explained another delay at 63rd. 

Once we finally got going for good, we stayed on until Canal Street, where we had errands. What should have been an 18-minute ride lasted an hour. It's nice to see the new train taking part in a New York tradition so quickly.


1 comment:

Kevin Thomsen said...

I can't wait to be used and abused beneath Manhattan.