Second Avenue (Manhattan)

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For other uses, see Second Avenue (disambiguation).

Route map: Bing / Google

Second Avenue
Second Avenue in New York by David Shankbone.jpg
Second Avenue in 2007
Owner City of New York
Maintained by NYCDOT
Length 6.4 mi[1] (10.3 km)
Location Manhattan, New York City
South end Houston / Chrystie Streets in Lower East Side
NY 25 (Queensboro Bridge) in East Midtown
RFK Bridge in East Harlem
North end Harlem River Drive / 128th Street in East Harlem
East First Avenue
West Third Avenue
Commissioned March 1811

Second Avenue is an avenue on the East Side of the New York City borough of Manhattan extending from Houston Street at its south end to the Harlem River Drive at 128th Street at its north end. A one-way street, vehicular traffic on Second Avenue runs southbound (downtown) only, except for a one-block segment of the avenue in Harlem. South of Houston Street, the roadway continues as Chrystie Street south to Canal Street. A bicycle lane in the left hand portion from 55th to 34th Street closes a gap in the Manhattan Waterfront Greenway. The bike lane extends from 125th Street all the way down to Houston Street. Second Avenue passes through a number of Manhattan neighborhoods including (from south to north) the Lower East Side, East Village, Gramercy Park, Murray Hill, Upper East Side, Yorkville and Spanish Harlem.


Second Avenue facing north from 42nd Street in 1861

Downtown Second Avenue in the Lower East Side was the home to many Yiddish theatre productions during the early part of the 20th century, and Second Avenue came to be known as the "Yiddish Theater District", "Yiddish Broadway", or the "Jewish Rialto". Although the theaters are gone, many traces of Jewish immigrant culture remain, such as kosher delicatessens and bakeries, and the famous Second Avenue Deli (which closed in 2006, later reopening on East 33rd Street and Third Avenue).

The Second Avenue Elevated train line ran above Second Avenue the full length of the avenue north of 23rd Street, and stood from 1880 until service was ended on June 13, 1942. South of Second Avenue, it ran on First Avenue and then Allen and Division Street.[2] The elevated trains were noisy and often dirty (in the 19th century they were pulled by soot-spewing steam locomotives). This depressed land values along Second Avenue during the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Partially because of the presence of the El, most buildings constructed during this era were working class tenements. The line was finally torn down in 1942 because it was deteriorated and obsolete, and the cost of World War II made upkeep impossible.[3] Second Avenue maintains its modest architectural character today, despite running through a number of high income areas.

Second Avenue has carried one-way traffic since June 4, 1951, before which it carried traffic in both the northbound and southbound directions.[4]

2015 gas explosion[edit]

On March 26, 2015, a gas explosion and resulting fire in the East Village destroyed three buildings at 119, 121 and 123 Second Avenue, between East 7th Street and St. Marks Place. At least twenty-two people were injured, four critically, and two people were initially listed as missing.[5] Later, two men were found dead in the debris of the explosion and are confirmed to be the ones listed as missing.[6][7]

In August 2014, a Consolidated Edison meter reader discovered that someone had illegally tapped into the 1.5-inch gas line which serviced the restaurant at 121 Second Avenue, the only part of the building authorized to received gas service from Con Ed. The illegal taps were serving some of the apartments in the building. Con Ed turned off the gas to the building for 10 days until the taps were removed and the plumber who did the work certified to the city's Building Department that it had been completed. Neither the Building Department no Con Ed was required by law to verify that the work had been done.[8]

In the days before the explosion, work was ongoing in the building for the installation of a new 4-inch gas line to service the apartments in 121. Con Ed workers inspected the installation just an hour before the explosion, but did not pass it, for reasons not related to safety. There was no gas running through the new line. Shortly after, the owner of the restaurant smelled gas and called the landlord of the building, but did not call 911 or Con Ed. When the contractor in charge of the work being done and the landlord's son opened the basement door, the explosion took place.[8]

Eleven other buildings were evacuated as a result of the explosion, and Con Ed turned off the gas to the area. Several days later, some residents were allowed to return to some of the vacated buildings.[8]


Bus service:

The M15 local serves the entirety of Second Avenue. The M15 Select Bus Service, the Select Bus Service equivalent of the local M15 bus, provides bus rapid transit service along Second Avenue southbound. Additionally, the M34A Select Bus Service runs along Second Avenue between East 34th Street and East 23rd Street en route to Waterside Plaza.[9]


A Second Avenue Subway line has been planned since 1919,[10] with provisions to construct it as early as 1929.[11] A subway line under Second Avenue would relieve congestion on the IRT Lexington Avenue Line (4 5 6 <6> trains), the busiest rapid transit line in the United States, and currently the only line running up the Upper East Side of Manhattan.[12] Two short sections of the line have been completed over the years, serving other subway services (the Grand Street station is served by the B D trains), and others simply sitting vacant underground (such as the unused upper level at the Second Avenue station on the F trains). Portions have been leased from time to time by New York Telephone to house equipment serving the company's principal north-south communication lines which run under the Avenue.[13] Isolated 1970s-era segments of the line, built without any infrastructure, exist between Pell and Canal Streets, and between 99th–105th and 110th–120th Streets.[14] Construction was begun again on April 12, 2007, on Phase 1 of a subway line that will eventually extend from 125th Street to the Financial District via the T service. Phase 1 connects the currently unused BMT 63rd Street Line with the new line north to stations at 72nd, 86th, and 96th Streets, serving the Q trains. When the whole Second Avenue subway line is completed, which MTA Capital Construction President Dr. Michael Horodniceanu says may be as early as 2029,[15] it is projected to serve about 560,000 daily riders.[16]


There are bike lanes along the avenue south of 125th Street.[17][18]



  1. ^ Google (September 1, 2015). "Second Avenue (Manhattan)" (Map). Google Maps. Google. Retrieved September 1, 2015. 
  2. ^ "Second Avenue 'El' Coming to a Stop", The Christian Science Monitor, June 13, 1942. Accessed October 12, 2008.
  3. ^ "Second Avenue Subway: Route 132-C". Retrieved 2014-06-05. 
  4. ^ Ingraham, Joseph (5 June 1951). "Autos Speeded 15% on 1st And 2nd Aves". The New York Times. Retrieved 28 August 2012. 
  5. ^ Flegenheimer, Matt and Surico, John "Two Men Remain Missing as Remnants of Explosion Are Scoured in Manhattan" The New York Times (March 28, 2015)
  6. ^ Barr, Meghan. "Official: 2 found dead in rubble believed to be missing men", Yahoo! News (March 30, 2015)
  7. ^ Dolan, Jim (April 3, 2015). "Crews Reach Basement In Manhattan Building Explosion Clean-up". WABC-TV. Retrieved 2015-04-04. 
  8. ^ a b c Sandoval, Edgar and Smith, Greg B. "City probing whether East Village building owner illegally tapped into gas main as family mourns Nicholas Figueroa" New York Daily News (March 31, 2015)
  9. ^
  10. ^ Staff. "Second Avenue 'El' Coming to a Stop", The Christian Science Monitor, June 13, 1942. Accessed October 12, 2008.
  11. ^ 100 Miles of Subway in New City Project; 52 of them in Queens, New York Times September 16, 1929 page 1
  12. ^ "Second Avenue Subway in the Borough of Manhattan, New York County, New York Final Environmental Impact Statement And Final Section 4(f) and Section 6(f) Evaluation" (PDF). April 2004. pp. 1–5, 1–6. Retrieved September 22, 2011. 
  13. ^ "Second Avenue Subway: Route 132-C". Retrieved 2014-06-05. 
  14. ^ "The Line That Time Forgot – Second Avenue Subway". April 5, 2004. Retrieved April 10, 2014. 
  15. ^ Nolan, Caitlin (May 16, 2014). "Second Avenue subway line construction is progressing: officials". NY Daily News. Retrieved May 19, 2014. 
  16. ^ Smith, Stephen J. (2013-10-02). "The Next 20 Years for New York’s MTA – Next City". Retrieved 2014-06-05. 
  17. ^ "Manhattan Bike Map: Manhattan Bike Paths, Bike Lanes & Greenways". NYC Bike Maps. Retrieved 2014-06-05. 
  18. ^ Miller, Stephen (2013-09-17). "DOT Proposes Filling the Gap in Second Avenue Protected Bike Lane | Streetsblog New York City". Retrieved 2014-06-05. 

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