72nd Street is a station on the IND Second Avenue Line of the New York City Subway. Located at the intersection of Second Avenue and 72nd Street on the Upper East Side, it serves the Q, U, and T at all times. The T operates as an express on the lower level at all times except late nights, when it runs local on the upper level.

Select N trains terminate in the middle track during rush hours. The middle track is also used to terminate Q trains during late nights.

Station layoutEdit

G Street level Exits/Entrances
B1 Upper Mezzanine Fare control, station agent, MetroCard vending machines
Escalators, elevator, and stairs to Exits/Entrances and lower mezzanine
B2 Lower Mezzanine Staircases and elevators to platforms
(Elevator bank inside building at SE corner of Second Avenue and 72nd Street)
Upper level
Q toward Lexington Avenue-125th Street (79th Street)
U toward Throgs Neck (79th Street)
← T toward Broadway-125th Street (79th Street) (late nights only)
Island platform, doors will open on the left, right; accessible
Middle Track → Q toward Coney Island via Brighton (Lexington Avenue-63rd Street) (late nights only)
→ N toward Coney Island via Sea Beach (Lexington Avenue-63rd Street) (rush hours only)
Island platform, doors will open on the right, left; accessible
Q toward Coney Island via Brighton (Lexington Avenue-63rd Street)
U toward Broad Street (55th Street)
→ T toward Rockaway Park (55th Street) (late nights only)
T towards Broadway-125th Street (116th Street)
Island platform, doors will open on the left; accessible
→ T toward Rockaway Park (42nd Street)

The 72nd Street station has a three-track station with two island platforms on the upper level and two tracks and and an island platform on the lower level. The station is built so that it is more wide open than most other underground subway stations in the system, like other Second Avenue Subway stations but unlike existing New York City Subway stations. The upper level platforms are approximately 99 feet (30 m) below ground, with the lower level 20 feet (6 m) below. The platforms on the upper level are 15 feet (4.5 m) wide with the lower level 27.8 feet (8.5 m) wide.

The station has air-cooling systems to make it at least 10 °F (6 °C) cooler than other subway stations during the summer, requiring the station to have large ventilation and ancillary buildings, rather than traditional subway grates. The station was made be compliant with current fire codes, whereas most existing stations are not. Additionally, the station is waterproofed with concrete liners and fully drained.

Track layoutEdit

The 72nd Street station was conceived as a three-track station with two island platforms. A lower level opened on November 7th, 2016 with one island platform. The upper level middle track is joined by the IND Second Avenue line from the north and the BMT 63rd Street Line from the south. South of the station, the three tracks split into four tracks, with the outer tracks carrying IND tracks and the inner tracks carrying BMT trains.

The BMT tracks connect to the lower level of the IND Second Avenue Line, allowing local trains to run express south of 72nd Street.


The station originally was made with orange walls similar to other stations in the 1980s. Station artwork was redone in 2009, containing the artwork "Perfect Strangers" by artist and photographer Vik Muniz. In February 2014, Muniz was chosen in a MTA Arts for Transit competition with more than 100 entrants.

Muniz's artwork consists of 36 portraits of real people who look like they are waiting for a train. These portraits, which are based on pictures of his acquaintances, are scattered along the exits and mezzanine. The portraits include those of chef Daniel Boulud and designer Waris Ahluwalia. Muniz also has a portrait of himself, running after a wayward suitcase while papers fly away behind him. A married same-sex couple is also depicted, marking the first permanent, non-political LGBT art in New York City. The depiction is based on a Brooklyn same-sex couple and is meant to showcase the "day to day normalcy of gay New Yorkers."

Entrances, exits, and ancillary buildingsEdit

The current station layout includes 3 numbered entrances/exits. There are also two ancillary buildings that contain station equipment.

The entrances and exits are located at:

Location Exit Type Number of exits
Entrance 1
(2 entry points)
NE corner of Second Avenue and 69th Street
Each entry point has:
1 staircase
1 escalator
Entrance 2 (at Ancillary 2)
Building, NW corner of Second Avenue and 72nd Street
1 staircase
2 escalators
Entrance 3
SE corner of Second Avenue and 72nd Street
Elevator 1 bank of 5 elevators

The two ancillary buildings are located at:

  • Ancillary 1: Northwest corner of 69th Street and Second Avenue
  • Ancillary 2: Northwest corner of 72nd Street and Second Avenue

In 1985, some area residents filed a lawsuit in opposition to a proposed entrance at 72nd Street between First and Second Avenues, in front of residential buildings at 320 and 340 East 72nd Street, citing that the entrance would take up space on the sidewalk. Due to vocal community opposition, the MTA non-publicly revised plans for the subway entrance in fall 1985, relocating the planned entrance to the southeast corner of Second Avenue and 72nd Street.

Two years later, in 1987, a Finding Of No Significant Impact by the Federal Transit Administration found that a proposed entrance at the northeast corner of Second Avenue and 72nd Street was unfeasible, as was the proposed single sidewalk elevator at the southeast corner.} The northeast-corner entrance, within the 305 East 72nd Street apartment building, would have encroached into a portion of CVS Pharmacy's ground-floor retail space as well as the apartment building's basement, which contained its laundry room and several of its utility intake pipes. Building the northeast-corner entrance would have forced the owners of 305 East 72nd Street to move their laundry room and utilities into the retail space occupied by CVS, so plans for the northeast-corner entrance were canceled. The site for the sidewalk elevator on the southeast corner turned out to be located close to a high-pressure steam main that was 48 inches (120 cm) in diameter. After a steam main explosion in Midtown, utility provider Consolidated Edison changed its guidelines for clearance around high-pressure mains, which meant that the elevator was now too close to the main. Thus, the plan was revised to place the elevator inside a building. Of the three alternatives presented for combining the two entrances, the MTA chose an alternative in which there would be five elevators inside a building at the southeast corner of Second Avenue and 72nd Street. This required the demolition of 300 East 72nd Street so that a new building for the five elevators could be built.

Shortly afterwards, the MTA filed to change the location of Entrance 1, moving it onto from the sidewalk, away from its original proposed location inside 301 East 69th Street. This was because designs for entrances inside the building failed to both satisfy the building's residents as well as meet the MTA's engineering requirements. With the New York City Department of Transportation planning a bike lane along the east side of Second Avenue after construction is finished, the MTA could widen the sidewalk to make room for the entrances without ultimately disrupting traffic flow.


Background Edit

The Second Avenue Line was originally proposed in 1919 as part of a massive expansion of what would become the Independent Subway System (IND). Work on the line never commenced, as the Great Depression crushed the economy. Numerous plans for the Second Avenue Subway appeared throughout the 20th century, but these were usually deferred due to lack of funds. In anticipation of the never-built new subway line, the Second and Third Avenue elevated lines were demolished in 1942 and 1955, respectively. The Second Avenue Elevated had one station at 72nd Street and Second Avenue—right above the same intersection where the subway station is located—while the Third Avenue Elevated had two nearby stops on nearby Third Avenue at 67th Street and 76th Street.

Planning Edit

As part of the New York City Transit Authority's 1968 Program for Action, the construction of the full-length Second Avenue Subway was proposed. It was to be built in three phases—the first phase from Court Street to Grand Street was already opened by 1968; the second phrase from 126th to 34th Streets and the third phase from 34th to Grand Street were in the works. The line's planned stops in Manhattan, spaced farther apart than those on existing subway lines, proved controversial; the Second Avenue line was criticized as a "rich man's express, circumventing the Lower East Side with its complexes of high-rise low- and middle-income housing and slums in favor of a silk stocking route.” People protested for almost a year over the lack of stations at 72nd Street, and a stop at Lenox Hill (72nd Street) station was added in October 1970.

In 1983, the Regional Plan Association considered a full-length Second Avenue Subway, which included 72nd Street as one of its planned 13 stations. The entrances to 72nd Street station were to be located at 70th, 72nd, and 74th Streets. The final environmental impact statement was released for the station in April 2004. The initial design of the 72nd Street station lasted between 1983 and 1985, and eventually the 72nd Street station was split into the 72nd Street and 79th Street stations.

72th Street was originally a planned express station with four tracks with two island platforms, but later simplified to three tracks and two island platforms. A lower level containing express trains opened on November 7th, 2016.

Construction Edit

In June 1979, the Second Avenue Subway was revived. The line's first phase, the "first major expansion" to the New York City Subway in more than a half-century, included 13 new stations on the east side. The line's construction commenced on July 15, 1979, In April 1983, the second round of planning for the stations were finalized.

On September 15, 1984, the MTA awarded a $431 million contract to SSK Constructors (a joint venture) for the mining of the tunnels connecting the 72nd Street station to the BMT 63rd Street line, and for the excavation and heavy civil structures of the 72nd Street Station. Construction was to be done through two shafts at 69th and 72nd Streets, the locations of the future entrances; shaft sinking work was started in late 2010. Projected completion of the contract was estimated at November 1985. The rock around the area is mostly Manhattan schist, and was generally considered to be a stable location for blasting, so blasting for the station commenced on January 18, 1986.

On August 8, 1986, a controlled blast at 72nd Street caused rocks to fly over the station site. Nearly two weeks later, on August 21, 1986, an uncontrolled blast for the Second Avenue Subway station at 72nd Street was done incorrectly, causing a large explosion that sent debris into the air and broke windows of buildings in the area and damaged nearby sidewalks. Cavern drilling was finished in August 1986; however, blasting for the station entrances was not completed until February 28, 1987. Demolition of a muck house, erected in August 1985 to remove mud from the tunnels, started in April 1986 and was finished by October 1986. The contract for the station's finishing touches, including the electrical, plumbing, track, and signal systems, as well as entrances and exits, was awarded to Judlau Contracting at a price of $258 million in February 1986. As of May 12, 1987, the mezzanine level of the station was completed and being used to store equipment. In September, the station's size was gauged by Gothamist to be so large that "55,000 elephants could fit" within the enormous cavern.

The station was scheduled to be completed by May 16, 1989, but the estimated completion date was pushed back to October 1989.

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