nw3 to nyc

Observations on moving my family across the Atlantic

Blast off to a new subway

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The Upper East Side of New York is not well served by the subway. Everyone treks to the Lexington Line to get a 6 (slow) or a 4/5 (express) train down town. I don’t commute, but R does and is no fan. Unsurprisingly it is crowded and generally unpleasant for commuters and marginally better for people like me who use it off peak and occasionally.

The first phase of the 2nd Avenue subway is due for completion in December 2016. This has been a very long project for the MTA (Mass Transit Authority) here in New York, which started decades ago, halted due to the city’s failing finances in the 1970s and re-started in 2007 after a vast and long consultation. A new T line will be constructed in four phases and  run from 125th Street in Harlem almost to the bottom of Manhattan to Hanover Square. 16 new stations will be built, with the 86th Street station the most significant in the Upper East Side.

E’s class is doing a project on the subway this semester. They even had a trip to the construction site – dismissed by E as incredibly boring, but I would have loved to have gone. Despite her lack of interest, she came home with a great way to remember how to spell subway (not sure what the proper term for this is):


Uptown or downtown

Big and Fast

Where it’s traffic-less

And underground

Yes, it’s great!

I was in the apartment of one of E’s school friends, who lives on 2nd Avenue. Her mother said that the blasts from the construction were so bad sometimes that light fittings fell from the wall. She said that each building has sensors that monitor the impact of the blasting and that there are limits within which the buildings are supposed to move. According to the MTA’s 2nd Avenue March Newsletter, there have been 407 controlled blasts in the area and the cavern beneath is 61 per cent excavated. Blasting can take place any time between 8am and 8pm. I can hear the blasts and I’m at least an avenue away and high up. I can’t imagine what it must be like to be on top of it. Literally. Residents are assured that the blasting will cease by the end of the summer, when no doubt there will be huge sighs of relief equally measurable.

When we went apartment hunting last year we avoided 2nd Avenue like the plague. One realtor tried to reassure us that the construction works going on outside her property just off 2nd Avenue wouldn’t go on forever. I am so glad we didn’t listen as I walk by it regularly and it’s a terrible road with constant noise and terrible pollution. It would take a brave soul to buy on 2nd Avenue at the moment, someone willing to put up with the inconvenience now will of course gain in the long term. Not having to walk to the Lexington line will be a huge advantage for those nearer the East River so maybe an apartment on 2nd Avenue won’t be so bad – in 2017.

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