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 runs only downtown. A bicycle lane in the left hand portion from 55th to 34th Street closes a gap in the Manhattan Waterfront Greenway. 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.
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 1942. It was torn down to improve automobile traffic flow and because it was considered by many to be a blight. 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. Second Avenue maintains this modest architectural character today, despite running through a number of high income areas.
A Second Avenue Subway line has been planned by the New York MTA since 1919. A subway line under Second Avenue would relieve congestion on the IRT Lexington Avenue Line currently the only line running up the East Side of Manhattan. A few short sections of the line have been completed over the years, with some serving other subway lines (the Grand Street (IND) Station is one example), and others simply sitting vacant underground.