The system that never was

2009 April 23
by Aaron Knoll
If the 2nd avenue line were ever completed, the orange wall in this picture would be knocked down to reveal the 2nd ave. track behind it.

If the 2nd avenue subway were ever built, the orange wall would be knocked down to reveal the 2nd ave. track behind it.

Sometimes, I’m riding the train and I can’t help but notice the MTA’s self-promoting advertisements. Yes, I know how “green” using transit is, and of course, I know how overdue the Second Avenue subway is (anyone who’s been on the 4,5,6 at rush hour surely does) but I didn’t know how exactly overdue it was. Original plans date back to 1929 and 1939 with the so-called “Second System.” 

It seems that with the 2nd Avenue line mired in delays and cost overruns, its unlikely the words 61st street subway, Wilson Avenue Line or last stop at Little Neck road in Queens- will ever be uttered outside of history.

Though there was support for the system (especially in Queens where a bulk of the new lines were to be constructed) was there, it was the timing of the plans that ultimately stopped the second system from occurring. 1929? The Great Depression. 1939? World War II. Could the recession of 2008-9 stop the Second Avenue subway one more time?

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