Here’s Where to Stop Along the Second Avenue Subway

Brian Sloan
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After nearly 90 years of on-and-off planning, 10 years of construction and $4.4 billion in costs, the Second Avenue subway is now a reality, having opened on New Year’s Day in 2017. It’s the largest addition to the NYC subway system since 1989, with three new stations (72nd Street, 86th Street and 96th Street), one renovated transfer station (Lexington Avenue-63rd Street) and two miles of shiny subway track. 

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The line, an extension of the Q train, runs under Second Avenue through Manhattan’s densely populated Upper East Side and is expected to serve roughly 200,000 riders a day. Read on for a quick guide to sights, snacks and shopping you can seek out near its subway stops.

Lexington Avenue-63rd Street Station

This F train stop was expanded to accommodate the new Second Avenue line. The pre-existing platforms, which were part of the last major MTA expansion 27 years ago, were overhauled and given a sleek metallic look to match the stations farther uptown. Also, a new entrance at 63rd Street and Third Avenue features four high-speed elevators and mosaics by artist Jean Shin that were inspired by the old Third Avenue elevated train.

Attractions
Beekman Theatre
Named to honor a classic movie house that was located nearby, today’s Beekman is a two-screen cinema featuring indie and art house fare as well as live theater, opera and ballet broadcasts.

Courtesy, The Society of Illustrators

Museum of Illustration  
The Society of Illustrators, which has counted Rube Goldberg and Norman Rockwell among its members, occupies this beautiful 1875 townhouse. See rotating art exhibits from the organization’s collection of more than 2,500 works.

Courtesy, Birch Coffee

Food
Birch Coffee
Paul Schlader and Jeremy Lyman founded this NYC-based mini-chain in 2009. It follows a green business model, (locally) roasting and grinding organically grown beans in its LEED-certified stores.

Photo: Mikey Pozarik

Tavern62 by David Burke
Celebrity chef David Burke’s latest temple to fine dining sports a second-floor solarium, a private eating space with walls made of Himalayan sea salt and exquisite dishes like Peking pork shank and lamb carbonara.

Shopping
The Art of Shaving
Since 1996, this upscale retailer has specialized in the providing the finest in razors, lotions and other accessories for men. A shave and a haircut will cost you more than two bits but is well worth the splurge.

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JackRabbit
The ultimate store for the running enthusiast, JackRabbit has all kinds of footwear as well as special services like gait analysis and sports bra fittings.

From Vik Muniz's "Perfect Strangers," 72nd Street Station. Photo: Tagger Yancey IV

72nd Street Station

This is the first station on the new Second Avenue subway extension and the deepest, with the trains arriving at a platform nearly 100 feet below street level. The main entrances are on opposite corners of 72nd Street and Second Avenue, with a third entrance at 69th Street. 

Attractions
Bohemian National Hall
This landmark building has a concert hall, movie theater and art gallery that showcase Czech culture.

Sotheby’s
The world-renowned art auctioneer has its New York City headquarters at this fortress of a building on First Avenue. Check out the scene at one the high-flying auctions—just don’t scratch your head at an inopportune moment.

Food
J.G. Melon 
A 1970s-era burger-and-beer joint, J.G. Melon is a neighborhood pub featuring a famously gruff staff and often a bit of a wait. Keeping with its old-school vibes, it’s cash only.

Maison Kayser
This Paris-based bakery opened its first NYC location at Third Avenue and 74th Street back in 2012 and since then has expanded across the City. It’s known for its fresh-baked baguettes and colorful macarons.

Nightlife
The Pony Bar 
If you like beer, this is the place to be: there’s an ever-changing roster of 20 craft brews and ales on tap, complementing the delicious comfort food. 

Mosaic of Kara Walker, by Chuck Close, 86th Street Station. Photo: Tagger Yancey IV

86th Street Station

With three main entrances on the north and southeast corners of 86 Street and Second Avenue, this is expected to be the busiest station on the line as it serves the bustling center of the Upper East Side and its Yorkville neighborhood. The station also features artwork by Chuck Close: 12 bigger-than-life-size mosaic portraits of other NYC artists both well-known (singer-songwriter Lou Reed) and up-and-coming (multimedia creator Pozsi B. Kolor).

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Attractions
Carl Schurz Park
This public park, which runs along East End Avenue from 84th Street to 90th Street, features recreation areas as well as beautiful views of the East River.

Photo: Julienne Schaer

Gracie Mansion
Originally a country home built in 1799, this Federalist-style building—set in Carl Schurz Park—has been the official residence of New York City’s mayor since 1942. It’s open to the public for tours on Tuesdays.

Food
Andre’s Café and Bakery
An old-world favorite, this narrow bakery-café-restaurant features a robust menu of Hungarian food, including a hearty veal goulash and irresistible strudels.

Heidelberg Restaurant
As a center of the City’s German immigrant population, Yorkville used to have many Bavarian restaurants. These days Heidelberg is the sole survivor, serving up delicious bratwurst and steins of beer like it’s done since 1936.

Two Little Red Hens   
After opening in 1992, this quaint bakery quickly became popular for its Brooklyn Blackout cupcakes and a delectably simple cheesecake that still draws raves. You can eat in or preorder cakes and pies for festive occasions.

Nightlife
Brandy’s Piano Bar 
This neighborhood standby features an upright piano, a fishbowl tip jar and a microphone that probably smells like beer. A regular rotation of piano men (and women!) bang out pop favorites nightly, starting at 9:30pm.

Caledonia 
The Scottish have invaded Yorkville with this deep-cut whiskey haven that’s perfect for a friendly meetup or a romantic date; the bar even offers 5 percent off for those on Tinder dates.       

96th Street Station. Photo: Tagger Yancey IV

96th Street Station

With entrances on 94th and 96th streets, this is the last stop…for now. There are plans for stations at 106th, 110th and 125th Streets, but it may be a long wait for that train—optimistic estimates have that segment opening in 2021. But today, this end-of-the-line station is a jumping-off point for multicultural adventures on the upper reaches of the Upper East Side.

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Attractions
Islamic Cultural Center of New York
Built in 1991, this is the largest mosque in NYC and also has a school, library, lecture hall and a museum. The building is open for daily prayer services and also has special events around holidays like Ramadan.

Food
Nick’s Restaurant & Pizzeria 
Family owned and operated, Nick’s is renowned for its thin-crust pizza, cooked in a brick oven with just a touch of smokiness and char. FYI, no slices.

Shopping
Unique Boutique  
Where in New York City can you get a pair of jeans for less than 10 bucks? This branch of the funky thrift store on 94th Street has just that, along with lots of other bargains.

Nightlife
The Toolbox  
This low-key LGBT bar is a long-term neighborhood hot spot, drawing a diverse crowd for Monday night bingo, Wednesday karaoke and regular happy hours.

Vinus and Marc   
A relatively recent addition to ever-evolving East Harlem, this upscale restaurant has craft cocktails and Southern cuisine with French and Latin touches.


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