It wasn’t the colorful murals, stainless steel wall panels, granite floor tile, nor the main entrance’s glass canopy or the long, broad train platform that impressed me most.
I went to the new 34th Street-Hudson Yards subway station days after it opened in September. The first station built in the New York City subway system since 1989, it is a modern, gleaming construction with many other “firsts,” including elevators that move on a lateral incline. But the feature that I thought about most was the 172-foot-long escalators that carried me to and from the station's first and second levels below 34th Street.
The longest in the city's subway system, the escalators ride at a 27-degree slope and gave me a sensation that was as close to an elevator-like descent as I’ve ever experienced on moving stairs.
The steep, long ride had me realize just how far the subway is underground— the platform at 34th Street-Hudson Yards is 125 feet, or 10 building floors, below street level — and how many tons of solid rock, which is Manhattan’s natural foundation, construction workers had to move with their industrial machinery to build the new transportation hub.