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Talk has gone on for several years about the Second Avenue subway line, which I thought was part of the myth, and many businesses were rumored to be on their way out once the construction began. One of those reports was the demise of Rainbow on 94th Street. I originally found it funny, since Rainbow sits at the bottom of a tall residential tower that has been there for years and seemed unlikely to be demolished for a subway line. Why would Rainbow be out? There were several four and five story buildings that were in disrepair not to far away that would certainly sacrifice themselves for Rainbow. Later I would find out that it was in fact the sub-basement that made Rainbow a prime target. The building would stay, the store would be replaced by a ventilation system.
Who knows if Rainbow is or is not going to be there once the trains start rolling. Since the construction started the stories have kind of slowed down. Nothing has really closed down that wasn’t already. In fact a new Chase branch opened on 94th Street after over a year of a sign announcing its coming was put in the window. Locals have witnessed three restaurants in that very location in the past ten years, I am sure the bank will survive the construction obstructions. I wonder if they signed a 20 year lease at a lower rate knowing that they would be 6 inches from falling into a hole the day they opened. I can only hope. In fact I hope that all of the stores along the way are being subsidized by the city in some way for the inconvenience.
So much has changed since last Tuesday. Over a week and a half of work has found new routes and several new holes in the ground. Last Tuesday, right across the street from the new Chase and in front of Rainbow, a big hole was being dug by one of the excavators. If you know entrance to Rainbow, then you know where the hole is. Out one door you safely walk onto 94th Street. Out the other, if it were operational, you would fall into a ten foot pit that grew larger with each swing of the arm. The accuracy and ease with which these guys swing hundreds of tons of machine and earth around is remarkable.
I caught this drawing at the right moment, giving me about 25 minutes to get it done before the crew shut down and waited for their next instructions. Again, another bunch of chop busters. The contractor leaning on the wooden wall told me to “get him with the handkerchief” as the excavator operator blew his nose before the work began. There was something humorous about the event as I watched him throw the tissue into the whole, only to dig it back out with a steel claw and place it in the idling dump truck.
The highlight was watching a little boy, whose mother made the mistake of parking his stroller in front of the hole, sit there in awe of the machines that were grabbing the earth. He unfortunately got there three minutes before the growling machine came to a stop. His mother motioned that they were leaving, but he put up a fight to stay. Little did she know they were going to be down for a while, and that her son was not going to leave anytime soon.