Today for the first time in just under 26 years (with the opening 63rd Street Extension on October 29, 1989), and basically first time in my lifetime (I was two weeks old when the 63 Street Extension Opened) a new subway line was finally extended into new territory with the opening of 7 line extension one stop to 34 Street-Hudson Yards. I proudly rode the first extended 7 train that arrived in the station (I believe a Flushing-bound 7 train had already departed) at 1:08pm, jam-packed with transit buffs, history makers and regular riders.
My day to chronicle this event (and get my needed photo essay) began about 2 hours before when I got off the A train at 34 Street a little after 11:00am. I took a five minute Citibike Ride over to 11th Avenue, riding past the new station in its linear park as the dignitaries ceremony was underway, well protected from the public by plenty of barricades. The various dignatories sitting in their white chairs like their attending a wetting. I get photos from the sidewalk of the barricades and ceremony and hear de Blasio discuss how the state must provide more funding to the capital plan. Then I hear Pendergast speak a bit rebuffing the remarks, requesting more city funding.
I then cross 34 Street at the new traffic light:
I continue walking up the newly named (with a new traffic light) Hudson Boulevard East that is a new linear park. I see the construction site of the secondary entrance to the station that looks like it has a bit of a ways to go. There is also a tent set up for a small kids festival in conjunction with the station opening.
My next stop is to go and see how Times Square–(9 Photos) on the 7 train is doing on its last few hours as a terminus station. To get there I walk and take a silly Citibike Ride (I’m on the bike from 10th to 7th Avenue along 38 Street), I enter the IRT 7th Avenue Line platform and head down to the 7 train platform. Life here is confusing at the moment. the signage has all been updated to reflect Hudson Yards being open except for small paper signs informing passengers that Queens-bound 7 trains may depart from either platform and to be aware of test trains entering from 34 Street-Hudson Yards. All the Flushing-bound trains are departing from the Hudson Yards-bound track to avoid getting in the way of the dignitaries first ride from 34 Street-Hudson Yards.
I then realize I have about 45 minutes before I need to meet some friends that want to join me on the inogrual ride at Grand Central. I decide to hop on the next 7 train to Queens, getting off at Huterspoint Avenue. I’ve been meaning to get weekend photos of the empty Hunterspoint Avenue and Long Island City Stations (which is fenced off on the weekend). I go for a bit of a walk and visit these two desolate LIRR stations, the only two stations on the entire MTA system (take that any other commuter rail system) that lack weekend service (to keep this post focused on the 7, photos will be in a different post). I then head back to Vernon Avenue-Jackson Avenue–(4 photos). There I get photos of the new “Times Square Time to Change Your Routine” signs informing passengers that all Queens-bound trains at Times Square will now leave from Track 2 and as long as passengers use all available doors they should still be able to get their preferred seat.
I wait a good 7 minutes for the next Times Square-bound 7 train (I think third to last). As we go under the river the conductor makes an announcement about 34 Street-Hudson Yards opening at 1:00pm. I take this to Grand Central, running off after I get the This is a Times Square-bound 7 train recording. I go upstairs leave fare control, find my classmates by the information booth clock and we go straight back downstairs to wait on the 7 platform–(4 Photos). I immedately notice that the To signs for the 7 alternate between Javits Center & 34 Street-Hudson Yards or Times Square & 34 Street-Hudson Yards.
At 12:46, a Times Square-bound 7 train stops. It’s the LAST!
We let this train I go and wait for what feels like quite a while. At 12:58 a train pulls in and before I can read the destination sign of 34-Hudson I can tell its a special train because its jammed packed and in the front cab are two MTA employees and a policeman.
We squeeze are way on. The one time no one really cares about being packed in like sardines because of the jovial mood!
5th Avenue is empty and were down to two more stops:
At Times Square the platform is a bit crowded and more people try to squeeze in. The automated announcement says this is a “Hudson Yards-bound 7 train, the next and last stop is 34 Street-Hudson Yards” I try and get a recording but way too many people are cheering and being loud. We then get a ding announcement from our conductor informing us we are indeed on the first 34 Street-Hudson Yards-bound 7 train and to step all the way into the cars and use all available doors. The train then enters the new tunnel at 1:03. The train is as crowded as ever, as we zoom through the new tunnel the slight curve is felt as curve south from 42 Street to 11 Avenue.
We arrive at the new 34 Street-Hudson Yards Station at 1:08! The platform is relatively empty. I The first regular passenger train out of our new station has clearly already left.
Since the first train is clearly running a few minutes late because of the heavy crowding, the second train to arrive at 34 Street-Hudson Yards soon does. I first get a picture of the relatively hidious track wall tiles (Lexington Avenue-63 Street and the 2nd Avenue Subway stations are getting similar tiles)
We then leave the crowded platform and head up to the wide mezzanine lined with LCD screens, currently displaying welcome to the Hudson Yards neighborhood from various organizations including the Friends of the High Line
The only way to leave the station on this first trip is by taking the inclined elevator (that delayed the stations opening by a couple years) and reminds me of a funicular in a tunnel. It’s like a regular elevator operating on-demand with regular buttons. As we crowd in I’m closest to the buttons and get those honors.
We get to the mezzanine and I notice the neat ceiling mosaic.
Unfortunately the street elevator is out of service, good thing none of us use wheelchairs! Apparently during the opening ceremony some TA employees got stuck and the FDNY had to come to rescue them!
Some friendly TA employees are handing out maps and little leaflits welcoming us to the grand opening (only a couple employees have them, I assume there leftover from this morning). We end up taking the one wide escalator bank up to the surface (beneath another set of mosaics).
We get up to the plaza area where not all the barricades have been removed yet.
We walk north to check out the little ‘festival’ that is basically just a kids bouncy house. We then try and walk over the Hudson Yards portion of the High Line but a sign informs us that the northern section is closed until September 21 (since August 17) for maintenance work.
We head back towards the station, all of us dispersing for the rest of our Sunday afternoons. I decide to say goodbye at the station entrance and get my photo essay (my original thoughts were to come back in the next few days for the essay). Here’s a preview (I took nearly 400 photos, much to my surprise and need a little more time to go through them before I make the station page)
As I finish my photo essay as a wrapped R62A train arrives, it’s roll signs still say Times Square-42 Street.
I head back to Times Square–(4 Photos), where all of the Trains may depart from either track and test trains may arrive at 34 Street-Hudson Yards signs have been replaced with laminated signs pointing towards track two for all Queens-bound 7 trains. The next train displays are stupidly still on pointing towards track 2 as if Times Square is a terminus and all trains are leaving from there. It’s as if Hudson Yards hasn’t really opened.
I wend my way home from there!