The extension of New York City’s 7 subway line is finally open.
What began as a part of the city’s failed 2012 Olympics bid will soon redefine the far western reaches of Manhattan and make way for vast redevelopment.
Previously, the western part of Midtown had no access to rapid transit and no links to Grand Central Station for commuters.
The Olympics bid included plans for a stadium to be built over the train yards at 11th Avenue, and the 7 train subway would be extended to reach it.
Despite losing the Olympic bid, the plan for the subway extension was given the green light, and construction began in 2007.
The Hudson Yards Redevelopment Project is now well underway, and residential and commercial sites are rising above the train yards. With the terminus of the popular High Line park a block away, the MTA’s 469th station is expected to see heavy use.
We have a firsthand look at what it’s like to go through the MTA’s newest complete station since 1989.
I hopped on the train at Times Square - 42nd Street. After navigating the labyrinth of platforms in the enormous Times Square station, I finally found the 7.
Well, it's official: it's on the map! The mile-long extension seems much smaller on the simplified system map.
The trains are the same, but looking out the windows, I can tell that it's a brand new tunnel. There's no soot to cover the concrete just yet.
After about 4 minutes, I'm there. The platform itself is pretty boring, so I go up to the lower mezzanine. Everything is very clean and light grey -- it feels like a sci-fi movie set. It stretches the length of three city blocks.
The architecture is decidedly modern, and there are no straight walls, just cavernous tubes. Unlike most subway stations, the temperature is comfortable. Reasonable temperatures in a subway station is far from an everyday occurrence.
Only when I get to the escalators do I realise just how deep the station is. At 125 feet from platform to street, it's the third deepest in the subway system. That's over 10 stories -- deep enough for two train tunnels to pass over it.
After a minute and a half escalator ride (yes, that long), I reach the upper mezzanine where the turnstiles are located. Above the turnstiles is a gorgeous bright blue mosaic by artist Xenobia Bailey.
Up another, thankfully shorter, bank of escalators and I reach the street. There are two entrances, but only the one between 33rd and 34th Street is completed. The other will open this December.
It doesn't seem very busy, but once the Hudson Yards development is complete, this will be an extremely bustling station. The master plan calls for 16 skyscrapers to be completed by 2024.
Both entrances are surrounded by Hudson Yards Park, which has winding walkways and freeform gardens.
The park offers tables and amphitheater benches in front of three modern fountains and a gorgeous view of towers to the north.
The 33rd Street entrance is in the shadow of 10 Hudson Yards, the first skyscraper of the development plan. The tower will hold the new headquarters of Coach Inc. and is on track to open in late 2015.
And down, down, down some more. Staring down such a long escalator is a little unnerving; I definitely gripped the side more than I needed to.
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