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Second Avenue subway first look: A peek into the 96th Street station

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo and the Metropolitan Transportation Authority welcomed guests, from schoolchildren to elected officials, to the first "open house" for the 96th Street station on the new 2nd Avenue subway line on Dec. 22, 2016. The sneak peek will offer a look and feel of the new stations before the first Q train runs uptown, scheduled for noon on New Year's Day.

The day is almost here.

The Second Avenue subway will officially open to the public on New Year's Day, with new stations at 96th, 86th and 72nd streets, as well as the expanded station at 63rd Street. They will open at 11:45 a.m., the MTA said.

Here's a sneak peek at the 96th Street station, which was open to city politicians and others a week early.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo and the MTA welcomed guests
Photo Credit: Getty Images / Drew Angerer

Gov. Andrew Cuomo and the MTA welcomed guests -- from wide-eyed elementary school students to equally wide-eyed elected officials -- for the first 96th Street station "open house," held on Dec. 22.

"This is really a great, great moment and step forward for New York," Cuomo said from behind a podium at the crowded subway entrance. "It's going to remind New Yorkers that this is the greatest state in the United States of America. We don't make excuses; we make the impossible happen."

The governor, MTA Chairman Tom Prendergast and Rep.
Photo Credit: Charles Eckert

The governor, MTA Chairman Tom Prendergast and Rep. Carolyn Maloney crossed through the turnstile gates (sans actual turnstiles) as Taylor Swift's "Welcome to New York" pumped through the public address system to kick off the open house.

Staff dished out commemorative subway maps, MetroCards and
Photo Credit: Getty Images / Drew Angerer

Staff dished out commemorative subway maps, MetroCards and T-shirts. Cookies wrapped in Second Avenue subway designs sat on the ledges of a platform newsstand. Rep. Maloney had even likened the new subway extension to the pyramids of Egypt.

"It's actually really well-lit and spacious," said a more measured Darrell Salina, of East Flatbush, as he walked through the mezzanine. Salina works near the station and dropped in on Thursday afternoon.

The $4.5 billion subway project -- which has
Photo Credit: Charles Eckert

The $4.5 billion subway project -- which has been estimated to be one of the most expensive in the world -- has brought stations housed under high, arched ceilings, without columns. Guests enjoyed the openness and light at 96th Street; it bore little resemblance to the dank, dark system they are used to, they said. When the line does open, the MTA expects it to serve some 200,000 commuters each day.

Photo Credit: Getty Images / Drew Angerer

"Look, that's where you can see when the next train will come. It's very important," said Dr. Michael Horodniceanu, president of MTA Capital Construction, pointing to the station's countdown clock as students around him chomped into chocolate chip and black-and-white cookies, which they seemed to find more impressive.

Photo Credit: Charles Eckert

"I like all the really pretty equipment everywhere," said Emma Anderson, 7, who described the rest of the MTA's stations succinctly: "Dirty!"

Jennifer Dore, from the Bronx, was another worker
Photo Credit: Charles Eckert

Jennifer Dore, from the Bronx, was another worker nearby who stopped in. She left the station on Thursday afternoon with her friend, shouting to a relatively empty Second Avenue: "This is the best thing to happen to New York!"

"It's great. The light!" Dore exclaimed. She tilted her head back and brought her pointer finger and thumb together to her lips in a gesture of approval.

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