New York City’s newest subway line is still years from opening, but the Second Avenue Subway is coming. Phase One is expected to be completed in 2016 and will run from East 96th Street to East 63rd Street. When finished, the entire subway line will connect 125th Street to the Financial District.
Patrick Cashin, a photographer for the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, has been tracking the work on the Second Avenue Subway beginning in 2009. Since joining the MTA in 2000, Cashin has also documented the agency’s work on projects like East Side Access and Superstorm Sandy recovery efforts. Through it all, Cashin gets to see the city in a way most of us never will. His photographs of the underground work seem otherworldly and surreal, a stark contrast from the view above ground.
“You walk down through the tunnel and bam, you walk into the 72nd Street cavern. And it just blows you away because it’s just so big and so huge,” Cashin told reporter and anchor Jack Ford about the Second Avenue Subway project. “Now it’s starting to look like a station. Before it was just all rock and mud and dirt, but now they’ve got the walls up, they’ve got the ceiling up so it’s beginning to look like a train station.”
The dust and construction above ground are all many New Yorkers know about the new subway line.
“Second Avenue, because it affects the community so much, they actually have tours for the community, for the residents in the community to go down there. To see their faces when they come off the elevator, it’s like they had no idea. I mean, they’re inconvenienced and they get the noise and the dust,” Cashin said. “So to see the look on their faces, it’s just a big wow factor.”
Cashin has also climbed to the top of the Robert F. Kennedy bridge, the Bronx-Whitestone bridge, and the Verrazano-Narrows bridge. When reporter and anchor Jack Ford asked Cashin if he ever felt scared climbing that high, he said that the camera gave him “a false sense of security”.
“You do the grip and grins and you photograph the t-shirts just so you can get to the top,” Cashin said. “You got to do the crummy jobs to get to the good jobs.”
On his last trip up the Verrazano-Narrows bridge, Cashin photographed the 2013 New York City Marathon. “It’s always a little different looking down and seeing all those people running across the bridge.”