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The Second Avenue subway explained

The MTA anticipated the first phase of the new subway route would be used by 200,000 people each weekday. It expects the phase two extension to add 100,000 new riders to the Second Avenue line.

The Upper East Side once had two other subway routes on Second and Third avenues, but the noisy elevated tracks were torn down to improve real estate values.

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Photo Credit: Getty Images / Michael Nagle

MTA officials had been hesitant to commit to a launch date, but with a little push from Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo, the line’s inaugural ride took off on Dec. 31, 2016, during a private event with city officials.

“There were two things that I never expected would happen. One was the Cubs winning the World Series. The second was having a gala New Year’s Eve celebration for the opening of the Second Avenue line,” former MTA chairman Thomas Prendergast said at the time.

Commuters were able to take their first ride under Second Avenue the next day.

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Photo Credit: Getty Images / Yana Paskova

The construction of the Second Avenue subway on the Upper East Side has been an epic odyssey.

After decades of false starts, the first phase of the new subway line officially opened to the public on Jan. 1, 2017.

The journey to launch the line dates to the 1920s, when the route was first proposed by a state agency. Construction was derailed by the Great Depression, World War II, the city’s financial woes in the 1970s as well as the challenges of building in one of the densest neighborhoods in the country.

The state finally broke ground on the first phase of the line in April 2007, although construction work had been undertaken in previous decades in Chinatown and East Harlem.

The subway line, the first major expansion of the system in more than 50 years, will span 8.5 miles from 125th Street in Harlem to Hanover Square in lower Manhattan when it’s complete.

MTA officials say the Second Avenue subway will allow residents and commuters easier access to mass transit on the city’s East Side.

Here’s what else you need to know about the Second Avenue subway.

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