Lucky ‘7’! Train’s new station is awesome

for The Brooklyn Paper
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Photo gallery

West Side story: The entrance to the new 7 train station on the far West Side of Manhattan.
Heads up!: When you look up inside, you’ll see this mosaic.
All’s fare: Yes, you still have to buy a MetroCard if you don’t have one.
Turnstiles: A flick of the wrist and you’re inside!
Tunnel of love: Follow the signs to get where you’ve got to go!
Grand entrance: This staircase has plenty of room for everyone!
Back to Queens: Here, the trains only go one way.

Do yourself — and your soul — a favor. Hop on the 7 train and go to the last stop in Manhattan, the brand- spanking-new one: 34th Street Hudson Yards.

You will emerge into the station and, I guarantee you, grin. Everyone does. I spent Sunday, opening day, just watching people get off the train and smile like they’d landed in Disney World.

It’s not just that the place is so new and big and bright. It’s not just the amazing “inclinator” — an elevator that glides up and down an incline like something out of “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.” It’s not even the fact that there’s no gum on the floor, or trash on the tracks. I didn’t even see a rat — which was kind of disorienting. Like, “Am I still in New York?”

But that’s the point: This is very much New York. And maybe the optimism it engenders is the fact that our city (and state) made something this magnificent happen.

You see, without exactly articulating it, a troubling notion had taken root in the back of my mind, and possibly yours, that New York’s civic glory days were over. Yes, we could build the Freedom Tower, but look how long it took. Look at how different it ended up from the original design.

And yes, we built two baseball stadiums recently, but those were … baseball stadiums.

And then suddenly the MTA unveils a transit hub that opens up a whole swath of previously no-man’s-land Manhattan, like the Golden Spike opening up the Wild West. And it does this with a station as uplifting as a cathedral.

“It’s a point for urban equality,” said Alex Restrepo, an academic advisor at LaGuardia Community College, taking an opening day stroll through the newness.

“It’s also built on a usable scale,” added Michael Rohdin, an administrator of undergraduate studies at John Jay College. Unlike, say, the 72nd and Broadway Station, an express stop with just enough platform space for a ballerina to slide past a supermodel if neither of them has eaten breakfast, the Hudson Yards stop is vast. The platform is wide, but it almost feels as if the stairways are wider still.

“And there are many entrances between the station and the mezzanine, so there won’t be so many choke points,” piped up Leo Wagner, a 14-year-old train buff visiting with his mom from Washington D.C.

The train buffs were out in force, of course, all of them ecstatic.

“I actually got chills — and not just because of the air conditioni­ng,” said 17-year-old Jovan Griffith, a senior at Northeastern Academy in Inwood, taking photos. (He was right — the A.C. was working on the platform. Amazing!)

“I like the design, the walls, the lighting — everything,” said an equally effusive Vincent LaFaro, a CVS customer service rep from Brooklyn. His friend Veniece Campbell had come in from Yonkers to exult in the new station.

“It’s historic!” she said, promising she’ll be back soon.

Then again, she has to be. She’s a train operator, and on Thursday her run starts at that station.

Outside on one of the new benches facing the new grass that looks about as natural as a Starbucks in the Sahara, retired Domino Sugar worker Robert Shelton sat basking in the sun, and pride.

“My daughter’s an electrician,” he said. “She helped to construct this.”

This is a daughter who went to electricians’ school only after her parents begged the administration to let her in. It was a Downtown Brooklyn trade school that only accepted certain students.

“You had to have been on Welfare, an ex-offender, or a drug addict to go to the school,” Shelton explained. His daughter wasn’t any of those, but that’s the school her family had heard about in the Roosevelt Houses, and that’s where she wanted to go. Her parents did too.

“So we took off from work and fought for her to go to school there,” recalls Shelton. “We said, ‘We pay taxes. Let her in.’ ” And the school did.

Now, 30-something years later, she’s worked on everything from Bloomberg headquarters to the city’s newest gem.

“I am so happy to be here today,” said her dad.

See? This station is going to make a lot of us happy for a long time.

Lenore Skenazy is a keynote speaker and the author and founder of the book and blog Free-Range Kids.

Posted 12:00 am, September 20, 2015
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Reasonable discourse

Charles from Bklyn says:
Let's repair, clean, fix, and improve our subway system. I am willing to chip in, as it would be nice to have an awesome system to travel in the morning. A dream from a new station that will look like #@!_3 in a few weeks is not enough to impress.
Sept. 20, 2015, 8:21 am
Barry from Flatbush says:
So glad to see the public sector subsidizing the real estate developers. Anytime the middle class can give it up for the 1% I'm happy. And the owners of the new Hudson Yards condos have every right to have a beautiful subway station. They earned it.
Sept. 20, 2015, 2:43 pm
MJ from Bay Ridge says:
the MTA has many "air rights" along its tracks and stations. If MTA learns to work with the private developers, most of the subway systems can be upgraded like those in China.
Sept. 21, 2015, 8:33 am
why complain from the boro's says:
Gov is going to spend our dollars where and when they want as long as we continue to vote them in to decide for us. Rather we should be voting for the things we want and have a gov to do them.

The system's suppose to be for the people, by the people. Not for the gov, by the gov.

I don't known where we went wrong but it's obvious what we need to do to fix it. The New Order!
Sept. 21, 2015, 9:32 am
jjm from c. hill says:
was just over there & already bums are flooding it. but hey, they're not bothering anyone so let them be.
Sept. 21, 2015, 2:19 pm
TOM from Brooklyn says:
They call it a "fenicula"[sic] on Capri in Italy. The Getty Museum in LA has one also. I don't think they and others throughout the world had as much trouble getting them to work.

It station reminds me mostly of the Rome system which had to work around the ancient ruins they kept uncovering. Fellini worked this into a film.

I was there yesterday to see what made it cost so much. It's overbuilt and too-large-for-purpose. I'd bet it has more floor space than the Times Square hub. Make a good air raid shelter though, unless at its great depth it would fill with water.
Sept. 21, 2015, 2:37 pm
Me from Bay Ridge says:
I believe the idea behind this station is to encourage development on the Far West Side and take some of the stress off of Mid-Midtown.
Sept. 21, 2015, 5:21 pm
C'est Possible from Greenpoint says:
This should really inspire people to support mass transit in this city. The subway is the lifeblood of New York and we've been derelict in our lack of expansion for decades. Let's get real, and serious, and build bigtime. There are myriad ways to fund it and there are cost efficiencies in doing a lot of work quickly. The decision has to be: we're going to do this, now let's figure out how. There should be no question it's going to happen.

Bloomberg, being a ——head, built a few new stations for rich people. Let's take the excitement from these opening and build them for other people, too. I love that de Blasio brought up the Uticia avenue subway - that's a winner idea and a genuinely New York idea. Forget the dilettantes who whine - the majority of this city supports the subway, take that to the bank.
Sept. 21, 2015, 8:51 pm
I love from the 7 train says:
The station seems extra large. Are there plans to make connections? Above ground is like a soon to be buildings in your face Fantasia. Kinda nuts so much effort and money is required to make a one stop extension. A giddy feeling ricocheted about my rib cage nonetheless.
Sept. 21, 2015, 11:07 pm
Matt from Greenpoint says:
The Subway is for some folks but some of us would rather drive ourselves.
Sept. 21, 2015, 11:50 pm
Penny from Space says:
I prefer teleporting.
Sept. 22, 2015, 5:23 am
Pedro Valdez Rivera Jr. from Southside, Williamsburg, Brooklyn, New York, United States says:
This station can set the tone for future stations, at-grade, elevated, embankment, open-cut or underground in the considerable future.
Sept. 23, 2015, 9:59 am
Tal Barzilai from Pleasantville, NY says:
Although it's nice to see this subway station finally open, I do feel that there are issues with this. First of all, did it really need to be so state of the art considering the costs? Also, I didn't feel that it needed a special design for the just the entrance either. A more simpler design could have been done at a lesser cost rather than what was used for this. The only thing in there that was needed was access for the handicapped and having escalators for being pretty deep, but other than that, I feel everything else just seemed unnecessary. Overall, I feel that the only real reason this subway station was built was mainly because of what's going in that area otherwise it would have never happened. One other thing, wasn't there also supposed to be a stop on 41st Street as well on this extension or was that scrapped due to the costs?
Sept. 23, 2015, 2:33 pm

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