New York City Subway Map Sees Historic, Permanent Changes

The New York City subway map received a big update in May. The famous facade saw bigger, more permanent changes than it had in years. Several new stops were added to the subway map, and a previously retired line returned. The changes represent several billion dollars of new infrastructure beneath the nation’s largest city.

The Metropolitan Transit Authority, which runs the New York City transit system, is expanding one line and bringing another previous line back into use.

The Q line, represented in yellow on the subway map, will be expanded by several stops. Currently running through Queens, Manhattan, and Brooklyn, several stops will be added on the East Side of Manhattan. While the length of the subway line will not be greatly increased, it is expected that 200,000 passengers will use the new New York City subway stops each day.

Construction workers on the Second Avenue subway in New York City
[Photo by MTAPhotos/Flickr]
To accommodate the new subway stops, the MTA will be making several big changes to existing New York City subway lines. Rather than running all the way from Brooklyn through Manhattan and into Queens, the Q train will instead end at its new subway stops in Manhattan. Its route from Manhattan to Queens will be replaced by the W line, also represented in yellow on the map, which is planned to reopen in December. It has been closed since 2010.

The MTA has announced an opening date of December 2016 for the new stops and reopened train. The New York City government has been working on them for years, and the newly released subway map makes the reorganization one step closer to completed. The New York City subway map is iconic, and any alteration is a clear sign that a real-life change to the subway is making progress.

New York City Subway W Line Map Downtown
[Image via MTA/Gothamist]
The extension of the Q line is one of New York’s first major responses to huge demands on an increasingly crowded subway system. New York City’s population has grown rapidly over the past several decades, increasing by more than 1 million since 1990. The subway system has not kept up with demand and has subsequently experienced overcrowding that is only getting worse with time.

Not everyone sees the new subway stops as a flawless solution to New York’s transit problems. Some New Yorkers are upset that the subway expansion isn’t happening on schedule, but others are saying it’s a miracle the subway project is happening at all. Residents of Harlem and their elected officials have protested the location of the last stop on the expansion. It sits at 96th street, in the wealthy Upper East Side. Plans for several more subway stops going north into the historically African-American and Latino neighborhoods of Harlem and East Harlem have been delayed by several years.

However, the new Q line stops represent only the first phase in a major project that has been proposed and delayed since 1919. If and when the ambitious subway rerouting is completed, the New York City subway could see some even greater changes to its map than a few new subway stops. In addition to the current rerouting, the city’s subway system could get its first entirely new train line in well over 70 years, running from Harlem all the way down to the Financial District, a total of 8.5 miles.

For now, many residents are taking the release of the new map as an encouraging sign. While construction continues underneath Manhattan, the update to the cartographic symbol of the New York City subway brings the whole system one step further into the future.

[Photo by Adam E. Moreira/Wikimedia Commons]

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