By Failing to Connect to The Bronx, The Second Avenue Line is A Failure & A Monument To The Tale of Two Cities

Last stop on the 2nd Avenue Line, 96th Street.

Ok I’ll say it. The new Second Avenue line, which opened on New Year’s Day, is a colossal failure.

Yes it’s beautiful, yes it provides much needed relief to the already strained 4, 5, and 6 on the Lexington Avenue line but by not being extended into The Bronx, once again, hundreds of thousands of Bronxites are left behind and segregated not just by economics or even along racial lines (although which is abundantly clear when you ride the Second Avenue line) but also by infrastructure.

I’m not gonna lie, I had an enjoyable ride on it and it’s great that you can get from the far Upper East Side to Times Square in roughly 15ish minutes in one ride.

The stations are lovely and filled with beautiful artwork but what about the rest of us?

The Bronx is on the verge of shattering its historic high population set in 1970 just before the massive depopulation of the South Bronx began—something that we know all too well was orchestrated by the powers that be.

Back in 1970, we had 1,471,701 residents—the most we’d ever had.

We also had the Third Avenue El, although at that time it was no longer connected into Manhattan, at the very least we had a train running down from the North Bronx and connecting to 3rd Avenue and 149th Street in Melrose on the 2 and 5 line. That line served hundreds of thousands and it served them well.

Then the fires began spreading. People began fleeing the South Bronx and borough in general.

And in April of 1973, the Third Avenue El was terminated, essentially stranding huge portions of our borough and population without a running subway line.

All this, along with other issues, led to a massive decline in our population. By 1980, The Bronx lost 20.6% of its residents—302,729 Bronxites gone.

Since 1990, massive urban renewal in the South Bronx began filling vacant lots with houses or new apartment buildings. Vacant buildings were revived with new families moving in. And now, with barely any vacant land left, thousands of more residential units are under construction or planned along with massive rezonings of parts of The Bronx.

Subways in The Bronx are already packed during rush hour and waiting for two or three trains to pass by before being able to get on one is not uncommon yet New York City thinks it’s ok to continue building for more and more people without looking towards our transportation infrastructure.

So while wealthy Upper East Siders are enjoying a new subway line, folks in The Bronx are still dealing with horrible conditions.

How’s that for a tale of two cities?

The Bronx has the fastest growing population of all NYC boroughs and projected to continue to lead the rest of the city until 2040 in terms of population growth yet there are no plans at all on the table to deal with that when it comes to transportation. Sure, we’re getting 4 new Metro North stops in the East Bronx but that’s not where the population growth is happening or projected to occur.

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Ed García Conde

Ed García Conde is a life-long Bronxite who spends his time documenting the people, places, and things that make the borough a special place in the hopes of dispelling the negative stereotypes associated with The Bronx. His writings are often cited by mainstream media and is often consulted for his expertise on the borough's rich history.