86th Street is a station on the IND Second Avenue Line of the New York City Subway. Located at the intersection of Second Avenue and 86th Street on the Upper East Side, it serves the Q train at all times except late nights, the U at all times, and T during late nights only.

Station layoutEdit

G Street level Exits/Entrances
B1 Upper Mezzanine Escalators and stairs to Exits/Entrances and lower mezzanine
B2 Lower Mezzanine Fare control, station agent, MetroCard vending machines
Staircases and elevators to platforms
(Elevator on south side of 86th Street east of Second Avenue)
Platform level
Q toward Lexington Avenue-125th Street (96th Street)
U toward Throgs Neck (96th Street)
← T toward Broadway-125th Street (96th Street) (late nights only)
Island platform, doors will open on the left; accessible
Q toward Coney Island via Brighton (79th Street)
U toward Broad Street (79th Street)
→ T toward Rockaway Park (79th Street) (late nights only)
T does not stop here
T does not stop here
This station is built so that it is more wide open than most other underground stations in the system; its architecture, along with other Second Avenue Subway stations, was compared to a Washington Metro station by Dr. Michael Horodniceanu, President of MTA Capital Construction. The platform is 93 feet (28 m) below ground. The platform for the 86th Street station, like the other Second Avenue Subway stations, is 27.8 feet (8.5 m) wide.

As part of an upgrade and pilot program, Governor Andrew Cuomo helped renovated five subway stations that not only featured new artwork, but 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 renovation cost approximately $10,000,000.


The walls were originally orange like other stations built in the 1980s. In 2009, Chuck Close was selected from a pool of 300 potential artists to recreate the artwork for the station. His work consists of a series of twelve portraits of the city's cultural figures, spread over 1,000 square feet (93 m2) of wall. Each 10-foot-high (3.0 m) piece is made with tiles that are painted to create a mosaic-like effect. The pieces cost $1 million and were installed near the exits and in the mezzanines.

Close's portraits at the station, titled "Subway Portraits," fall into two main categories. The first category of portraits comprises artists whom Close is familiar with. The station contains portraits of composer Philip Glass in his youth; musician Lou Reed; photographer Cindy Sherman; painter Cecily Brown; artist Kara Walker; and painter Alex Katz. The second category is composed of portraits of younger, more ethnically diverse artists. In these portraits, Close aimed to highlight the cultural diversity of New York City. He also has two self-portraits within the station.

Entrances, exits, and ancillary buildingsEdit

There are 3 entrances and exits, which comprise 10 escalators and one elevator.

Exit location Exit Type Number of exits
Entrance 1
Within building at NE corner of Second Avenue and 83rd Street
Escalator 2 escalators
Entrance 2
(2 entry points)
NE corner of Second Avenue and 86th Street
Each entry point has:
1 staircase
1 escalator
Entrance 2
SE corner of Second Avenue and 86th Street
Elevator 1

There are also two ancillary buildings that store station equipment:

  • Ancillary 1, SW corner of Second Avenue and 83rd Street
  • Ancillary 2, NW corner of Second Avenue and 86th Street


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 86th Street and Second Avenue—right above the same intersection where the subway station is located—while the Third Avenue Elevated had two stops on nearby Third Avenue at 84th Street and 89th Street.

Unrealized proposals 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.

In 1983, the Regional Plan Association considered a full-length Second Avenue Subway, which include 86th Street as one of its planned 13 stations. The main station entrance would be at 86th Street to the north, with additional exits between 86th and 82nd Streets to the south.

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 contract for building the station was awarded to the joint venture of Skanska USA and Traylor Bros Inc. As of January 17, 1986, the cavern stretching from 83rd to 87th Streets was 57% excavated. By July 1986, construction of the station was 53% complete. The final blast for the 86th Street station was completed for an escalator cavern on November 22, 1986.

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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