Christopher Gray’s “Streetscapes” column in today’s New York Times Real Estate section discussed photographers’ massive attempt to document the enormous change that occurred in New York a century ago when the city’s first subway was built. Reading the piece made me resolve to do my small part in the next logical chapter in this visual history: to illustrate the upheaval caused by the long-delayed building of the Second Avenue subway line.
A few weekends back, I happened to be around Lexington Avenue in the Eighties, a neighborhood I don’t think I had visited in nearly 30 years, and I was only doing so now because 1) I would be seeing a relative who would be out of the area for the next several years, and 2) I had gotten a ride in. Considering what I saw and heard—the drone of construction equipment, traffic clogging the surrounding streets, the ugly outcropping from the bowels of the earth (as in this photo I took)—I don’t think I’ll go back soon.
Sure, something like this is also happening in Lower Manhattan. But at least below Chambers Street, you can already see the outlines of a small city taking shape—the culmination of New York’s attempt to rebound, bigger and better than ever, from 9/11.
It’s hard to see what’s taking shape below ground, uptown on the East Side. Heck, it’s hard to see when they’ll make an end of things above ground, which is what we can actually observe right now.
This being New York, I’m always doubtful that any construction deadline can be met. I’m especially skeptical after reading a post on the Web site The Launchbox, devoted to the progress of the new line, indicating that the Metropolitan Transit Authority could miss its deadline by three months, at least.