28 October 2013

Above-ground impact of the 2nd Avenue Subway construction

2nd Avenue at 86th Street in Manhattan, looking north. September 2013.
The megaproject tunneling underneath 2nd Avenue in Manhattan, scheduled to sync into the New York City Subway system in December of 2016, has provided some marvelous images of the process of digging enormous passageways underneath existing streets and inhabited buildings, in order to actually construct the subway line. Another much, much more visible but, I would argue, less noticed element of this project is the re-purposing of part of 2nd Avenue itself to stage the construction equipment and materials, house the project managers, and provide ventilation and access to the digging sites all has to locate somewhere, and that somewhere is, at least in the 2nd Avenue and mid-80s blocks, in the far eastern lane of the boulevard.

A collection of eight streetlights awaiting placement. September 2013.

A space intended to move traffic has been transitioned--for the time it takes to complete the digging below--into a construction site for a project invisible to see above ground. Like most building sites in Manhattan, this one is loud at times with the rumble of large trucks carting away soil and debris, but the material is nowhere to be seen, carried up from the underground load-by-load, driven off somewhere else, perhaps to New Jersey? In the meantime, 2nd Avenue is home to a collection on-site office trailers, what the Center for Land Use Interpretation terms "the invisible architecture of the urban environment".

Note the signage on the blue tarps indicating what business is obscured by this construction structure. The muted, neutral grey of the temporary building speaks well to its "invisibility". September 2013.
Looking south into the construction area. September 2013.

For more great photos of documenting the process of building the subway line, New York City's Metropolitan Transit Authority's Flickr page is worth a look. The MTA's Flickr account is a great example of the utility of social media to city agencies - there is lots of behind the scenes, under and above-ground photos of areas of New York City that most visitors and residents are never able to gain access to.

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