96th Street is a station on the IND Second Avenue Line of the New York City Subway. Located at the intersection of Second Avenue and 96th 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
M Mezzanine Fare control, station agent, MetroCard vending machines
(Elevator in plaza on west side of Second Avenue between 95th Street and 96th Street)
Platform level
Q toward Lexington Avenue-125th Street (106th Street)
U toward Throgs Neck (106th Street)
← T toward Broadway-125th Street (106th Street) (late nights only)
Island platform, doors will open on the left; accessible
Q toward Coney Island via Brighton (86th Street)
U toward Broad Street (86th Street)
→ T toward Rockaway Park (86th Street) (late nights only)
T does not stop here
T does not stop here
This station has two tracks and an island platform. The station is built so that it is more wide open than most other underground subway stations in the system. Its design was likened to a Washington Metro station by Dr. Michael Horodniceanu, President of MTA Capital Construction. The platform is approximately 49 feet (15 m) below ground, making the station one of the shallowest of the Second Avenue stations. The platform for the 96th Street station, like many 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.

South of the station underneath 92nd Street is a diamond crossover for possible terminating trains.


The walls were originally orange like other stations built in the 1980s. In 2009, Sarah Sze was selected from a pool of 300 potential artists to recreate the artwork for the station. Her work, which is curated by Spanish artisans, consists of blue, violet, and lavender landscapes, as well as depictions of wind blowing things around. The artwork is located on the porcelain wall panels of the station. The new installation became permanent.

One of the new pieces of the station is called "Blueprint for a Landscape" and consists of a dark-blue landscape of things being blown around as if by an incoming train. A New York Times reporter described it as "fragmented images of scaffolding, birds, chairs and leaves, digitally collaged." Another piece, in simple blue-and-white colors, consists of depictions of billowing sheets of paper. The work also serves the practical purpose of helping navigation, as the sheets are more closely packed together near the exits than in the middle of the station.

Entrances, exits, and ancillary buildingsEdit

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

Location Exit Type Number of exits
Entrance 1
Within building, SW corner of Second Avenue and 94th Street
1 staircase
1 escalator
Entrance 2
Plaza, NE corner of Second Avenue and 94th Street
Escalator 3 escalators
Entrance 3
Second Avenue, west side between 95th Street and 96th Street
Elevator 1
Entrance 3
Plaza, SW corner of Second Avenue and 96th Street
1 staircase
2 escalators

There are also two ancillary buildings that store station equipment. Ancillary 1 is at the northeast corner of Second Avenue and 93rd Street, while ancillary 2 is at the SW corner of Second Avenue and 97th Street. The locations of the station entrances are all south of 96th Street. During construction in the 1980s, there was a debate over the placement of the location of the street entrances. Because 96th Street divides the neighborhoods of the Upper East Side to the south and East Harlem to the north, some residents of East Harlem stated that their neighborhood was not served by the Second Avenue Subway.


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 92nd Street and another at 99th Street, and the Third Avenue Elevated had a stop on nearby Third Avenue at 99th 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.

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 years over the lack of stations at 72nd, 79th and 96th Streets; while a Lenox Hill (72nd Street) station was added in October 1970, the 79th and 96th Street stations were still not in the official plans, despite the proximity of the Metropolitan Hospital Center to the proposed 96th Street station. In response to public outcry, the MTA announced the addition of a station at 96th Street in 1971, and later the 79th Street station in 1983.

A combination of Federal and State funding was obtained, and despite the controversy over the number of stops and route, a groundbreaking ceremony was held on October 27, 1972 at Second Avenue and 103rd Street. Construction began shortly thereafter on what was to be the 99th–105th Streets segment, which was projected to cost $17.48 million (worth about $99,053,000 today). However, the city soon experienced its most dire fiscal crisis yet, due to the stagnant economy of the early 1970s, combined with the massive outflow of city residents to the suburbs, and in September 1975 construction on the line stopped, and the tunnels were sealed. Over the next few years, the MTA regularly inspected and maintained the tunnel segments, to maintain the structural integrity of the streets above, and construction resumed by 1979.

In 1983, the Regional Plan Association considered a full-length Second Avenue Subway, with 96 Street being part of 13 newly planned stations. The station would serve the Metropolitan Hospital at 97th Street and the then-new high-rise buildings south of 96th Streets.


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 six 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.

The contractor prepared the initial construction site at 96th Street on July 23, 1979. A TBM was originally expected to arrive six to eight months after construction began, but the utility relocation and excavation required to create its "launch box" delayed its deployment from 96th Street down to 63rd Street until May 1980. By May 1980, the TBM launch box was complete, the MTA's contractors completed the TBM installation and turned it on.

By the beginning of 1985, the slurry wall for the station site was being taken down. On June 25, 1985, a $324.6 million contract was awarded to E.E. Cruz and Company and Tully Construction Company for the station's plumbing, electricity, ancillaries, and entrances. In March 1986, the bulkhead separating the new construction from the 1970s-era tunnel at 99th Street was completed.

On March 19, 1986, a construction worker got stuck in waist-deep muck at the station site; he was extricated after four hours of rescue efforts, but nearly died after the incident.

By spring 1988, the mezzanine was completed, and roof slabs were being installed; tracks and signal brackets were also installed north of the station. The station opened along with the remainder of the IND Second Avenue Line north of Grand Street on October 29th, 1989.

In mid-2013, renovations on the section between 72nd Street and 96th Streets occurred, involving replacing the rack and signals, mechanical and plumbing equipment, new artwork in stations, and upgrading the tunnels to meet modern fire code standards.

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