While more than a million passengers crowd onto New York City’s Lexington Avenue subway line each weekday, the only trunk line to the east of Central Park in Manhattan, a $17 billion dollar dream is slowly unfolding beneath the cold earth and rock just to the east. Proposed in 1929, the Second Avenue Subway Line was first postponed due to the Great Depression. The City Beneath UsWorld War II pushed the project further away still. As New York’s population continued to grow, so too did the need for another subway line. Following the war, in 1945 the city began to plan again, even buying a prototype train in 1949 to use on the new line. The years continued to pass and in 1951 and again in 1967 New York voters approved bond acts for construction, but it wasn’t until 1972 that digging began. As luck would have it, New York City soon ran out of money in a few short years during a financial crisis and construction came to a halt with only three sections of the tunnel completed.

Decades later, progress is finally underway once more. While city construction projects are not the typical fare of LetsBeWild.com, we love caves, caverns, and urban exploration – and though man-made, this colossal project is certainly worth marvelling at. In these uniquely beautiful pictures below, taken by Metropolitan Transportation Authority staff photographer Patrick Cashin, we’re transported to a strange, damp world below the earth as workers move millions of cubic feet of earth. In December of 2016, New York’s 2nd Avenue Subway Tunnel is scheduled to open – more than 80 years after the project was conceived.

 

© Metropolitan Transportation Authority / Patrick Cashin

© Metropolitan Transportation Authority / Patrick Cashin

© Metropolitan Transportation Authority / Patrick Cashin

© Metropolitan Transportation Authority / Patrick Cashin

© Metropolitan Transportation Authority / Patrick Cashin

© Metropolitan Transportation Authority / Patrick Cashin

© Metropolitan Transportation Authority / Patrick Cashin

© Metropolitan Transportation Authority / Patrick Cashin

© Metropolitan Transportation Authority / Patrick Cashin

© Metropolitan Transportation Authority / Patrick Cashin

© Metropolitan Transportation Authority / Patrick Cashin

© Metropolitan Transportation Authority / Patrick Cashin

© Metropolitan Transportation Authority / Patrick Cashin

© Metropolitan Transportation Authority / Patrick Cashin

© Metropolitan Transportation Authority / Patrick Cashin

© Metropolitan Transportation Authority / Patrick Cashin

© Metropolitan Transportation Authority / Patrick Cashin

© Metropolitan Transportation Authority / Patrick Cashin

© Metropolitan Transportation Authority / Patrick Cashin

© Metropolitan Transportation Authority / Patrick Cashin

© Metropolitan Transportation Authority / Patrick Cashin

© Metropolitan Transportation Authority / Patrick Cashin

© Metropolitan Transportation Authority / Patrick Cashin

© Metropolitan Transportation Authority / Patrick Cashin

© Metropolitan Transportation Authority / Patrick Cashin

© Metropolitan Transportation Authority / Patrick Cashin

© Metropolitan Transportation Authority / Patrick Cashin

© Metropolitan Transportation Authority / Patrick Cashin

© Metropolitan Transportation Authority / Patrick Cashin

© Metropolitan Transportation Authority / Patrick Cashin

© Metropolitan Transportation Authority / Patrick Cashin

© Metropolitan Transportation Authority / Patrick Cashin

9 Responses

  1. avatar
    Katie Morgan

    what a neat peak at something most people will never get to see first-hand – fascinating how we’re able to drill giant holes through the ground to connect one place with another!

    Reply
  2. avatar
    Louis Williams

    I looked into the project more and it’s really neat how they have to be very careful not to shift the ground while digging the tunnels

    Reply
  3. avatar
    Luke

    How cool is that, I’ve always wanted to get a peek into the subterranean world of New York’s 2nd Ave Subway project. Maybe this time it will really get finished

    Reply
  4. avatar
    Dave

    Really great shots – I’d pay just to go down there into the new 2nd avenue subway tunnels and check it out!

    Reply
  5. avatar
    Leah Coltro

    Wow; how fascinating to see what goes on beneath the busy streets of New York City. I never really thought about how subway tunnels are dug, but after looking at these photos it’s clear what a monumental task it is. I’m sure millions of New Yorkers will be pleased when the 2nd Avenue subway tunnels finally open!

    Reply

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