New York: Going underground

At a time when many politically disillusioned New Yorkers might like to flee underground, subterranean escapist spaces are cropping up beneath the Big Apple

By Sarah Barrell
Published 9 Apr 2019, 00:15 BST, Updated 20 Jul 2021, 17:30 BST
A woman checks out a self-portrait tile mosaic by Chuck Close decorating the 86th St. Q ...

A woman checks out a self-portrait tile mosaic by Chuck Close decorating the 86th St. Q train station on the newly opened Second Avenue subway line on January 01, 2017 in New York City. 

Photograph by Getty Images

Plans to extend the perennially oversubscribed Second Avenue subway line were mooted when Manhattan's metro stations first opened back in the early 1900s. But it's finally here: the three-stop Q Train extension, servicing new stations at 72nd, 86th and 96th Street, each with site-specific, splashy artworks.

At 96th Street, see walls by Sarah Sze: 'Blueprint for a Landscape' comprising 4,300 blue porcelain tiles, a whirlwind cityscape hewn in white lines. Nodding off as you ride? Get an eyeful of Chuck Close's 12 large-scale works at the 86th Street station. Based on his portrait paintings and prints, expect startling faces staring back at you. There are playful mosaics by Brazilian artist Vik Muniz, whose works can be seen both at the 72nd Street station and, at street level, in the nearby Guggenheim, plus some nostalgic mosaics based on archive subway photos by Korean artist Jean Shin. Rarely has going underground been so uplifting.

Down under downtown

Lowline park

City authorities recently approved New York's Lowline Park. Due for completion in 2021, the aim is to emulate the success of the Lower West Side's High Line (pictured above) with a 60,000sq ft underground park, inside the former Williamsburg Bridge Trolley Terminal, on the Lower East Side.

Lowline Lab
Until the end of April, visit the Lowline Lab, inside an abandoned market on the Lower East Side, two blocks from the proposed Lowline. Here you can catch a preview of what's in store; including the innovative use of solar technology plus plans to grow plants underground.

Go with the flow // This autumn, Times Square goes underwater with the new 'walk-through' National Geographic experience — Encounter: Ocean Odyssey. Sharks included.

Published in the April 2017 issue of National Geographic Traveller (UK)


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