Definitions

IRT_Third_Avenue_Line

IRT Third Avenue Line

The Third Avenue Line, or Third Avenue El, was an elevated railway in Manhattan and the Bronx, New York City, open in parts from 1878 to 1973. It passed into the ownership of the Interborough Rapid Transit Company (IRT) and eventually the New York City Subway.

In the 1930s and '40s, as part of the integration of the different subway companies in New York City—the IRT along with Brooklyn–Manhattan Transit (BMT) and Independent Subway System (IND)—the Third Avenue El and its counterparts on Second, Sixth, and Ninth Avenues came under criticism from New York mayor Fiorello La Guardia and his successors. The Els were regarded as blights to their communities and obsolete, given that subways were being built or were on the drawing board to replace them.

The IND Sixth Avenue Line and the IND Eighth Avenue Line did indeed render the Sixth and Ninth Avenue Els obsolete. Save for a small shuttle service for the Polo Grounds on the Ninth Avenue Line, they were closed by 1940 and demolished by 1941. The Second Avenue El was also gradually demolished from 1940 to 1942, leaving only the Third Avenue El, which was intended to stay in use until the Second Avenue Subway was built to replace it. However, government bureaucracy and pressure from private developers, eager to redevelop Third Avenue, forced the closure of the El prematurely with no adequate subway replacement, leaving residents on the East Side of Manhattan with the overcrowded IRT Lexington Avenue Line as the only subway east of Fifth Avenue.

The system was closed in sections from 1950 to 1973. First, the South Ferry spur was closed in 1950, which connected South Ferry to Chatham Square in Manhattan. This forever closed the South Ferry elevated station, which had serviced all four IRT El lines that originally ran in Manhattan. Next to close was the City Hall spur in 1953, which started at Park Row in Manhattan and then connected with the South Ferry spur at Chatham Square. On May 12, 1955 the main portion of the line from Chatham Square to East 149th Street in the Bronx closed, ending the operation of elevated service in Manhattan. The removal aided property values along the East Side, and the head of the Real Estate Board of New York suggested that Third Avenue be renamed "The Bouwerie" to symbolize the transformation.

In the 1960s, the remaining service was named the 8. Finally, the remaining portion of the line in the Bronx from East 149th Street to Gun Hill Road closed in April 1973.

In the Bronx, the line was replaced by the Bx55 Limited bus route making only the stops the former line made. This bus route was one of the first to have free transfers with the subway with the transfer points at the 3rd Avenue-149th Street and Gun Hill Road White Plains Road IRT stations. With the introduction of free bus to subway transfers systemwide, the Bx55 lost its special status.

In popular culture

The El was most prominently featured in:

Short Documentary Film * Daybreak Express 1958 D.A. Pennebaker (Don't Look Back)

In the alternate history book Sideslip by Ted White and Dave van Arnam, depicting an alternate reality where Earth is ruled by aliens from space, the Third Avenue El survives into 1968.

Station listing

Station Tracks Opening date Closing date Transfers and notes
South Ferry all August 26, 1878 December 22, 1950
merge from IRT Ninth Avenue Line
Hanover Square all August 26, 1878 December 22, 1950
Fulton Street all August 26, 1878 December 22, 1950
Franklin Square all August 26, 1878 December 22, 1950
split for IRT Second Avenue Line
Chatham Square all May 12, 1955 original station was north of an at-grade merge from the spur
City Hall City Hall spur March 17, 1879 December 31, 1953
Chatham Square City Hall spur December 31, 1953
merge from City Hall Spur
Canal Street all May 12, 1955
Grand Street all May 12, 1955
Houston Street all May 12, 1955
Ninth Street all August 26, 1878 May 12, 1955
14th Street local August 26, 1878 May 12, 1955
18th Street local May 12, 1955
23rd Street all May 12, 1955
28th Street local August 26, 1878 May 12, 1955
34th Street local August 26, 1878 May 12, 1955
34th Street Ferry 34th Street Spur July 14, 1930
Second Avenue 34th Street Spur July 14, 1930 IRT Second Avenue Line
34th Street 34th Street Spur July 14, 1930
merge from 34th Street Spur
split for 42nd Street Spur
42nd Street all August 26, 1878 May 12, 1955 IRT Flushing Line, IRT Lexington Avenue Line and IRT 42nd Street Shuttle at 42nd Street–Grand Central
42nd Street 42nd Street Spur December 6, 1923
Grand Central Station 42nd Street Spur December 6, 1923
47th Street local May 12, 1955
53rd Street local May 12, 1955
59th Street local May 12, 1955
67th Street local May 12, 1955
76th Street local May 12, 1955
84th Street local May 12, 1955
89th Street local May 12, 1955
split for 98th Street Yard
99th Street local May 12, 1955
106th Street all May 12, 1955
116th Street local May 12, 1955
125th Street all May 12, 1955
split for IRT Second Avenue Line
129th Street local May 12, 1955
merge with IRT Second Avenue Line
split for Willis Avenue Spur
Willis Avenue Willis Avenue Spur April 14, 1924 transfer to the New York, Westchester and Boston Railway and the New York, New Haven and Hartford Railroad's Harlem River Branch
133rd Street all May 12, 1955 transfer to the New York, Westchester and Boston Railway (April 15, 1924 to December 31, 1937) and the New York, New Haven and Hartford Railroad's Harlem River Line (April 15, 1924 to 1931)
138th Street all May 12, 1955
143rd Street all May 12, 1955
split for IRT White Plains Road Line from express tracks (also called the Bergen Avenue By-pass)
149th Street all April 28, 1973 IRT White Plains Road Line
split for IRT White Plains Road Line from local tracks
156th Street all April 28, 1973
161st Street local April 28, 1973
166th Street local April 28, 1973
169th Street local April 28, 1973
Claremont Parkway local April 28, 1973 originally Wendover Avenue
174th Street local April 28, 1973
East Tremont Avenue all April 28, 1973 originally 177th Street, then Tremont Avenue–177th Street
split for 179th Street Yard
180th Street local April 28, 1973 not part of the original construction
183rd Street local April 28, 1973
Fordham Road all April 28, 1973 transfer to the New York Central's Harlem Line, originally Pelham Avenue
split for Bronx Park Spur
Bronx Park Bronx Park Spur
200th Street local October 4 1920 April 28, 1973
204th Street local October 4, 1920 April 28, 1973
210th Street local April 28, 1973 originally Williams Bridge–210th Street
Gun Hill Road all April 28, 1973 IRT White Plains Road Line
merges with IRT White Plains Road Line

Notes

References

  • Rapid Transit on the Bowery, New York Times August 26, 1878 page 8
  • Crossings on Elevated Roads, New York Times March 14, 1879 page 8
  • 42d St. Elevated Stops, New York Times December 7, 1923 page 19
  • City Brevities, New York Times April 15, 1924 page 10
  • 34th St. Elevated Ends Long Service, New York Times July 15, 1930 page 15
  • Westchester Line Passes with 1937, New York Times January 1, 1938 page 36
  • Old 'El' Link Ends Its 72-Year Uproar, New York Times December 23, 1950 page 23
  • City Hall 'El' Spur at End of the Line, New York Times January 1, 1954 page 25
  • Last Train Rumbles on Third Ave. 'El', New York Times May 13, 1955 page 1
  • Cars are Packed for Last 'El' Trip, New York Times May 13, 1955 page 16
  • Third Ave. El Reaches the End of Its Long, Noisy, Blighted, Nostalgic Life, New York Times April 29, 1973 page 24

Further reading

  • Stelter, Lawrence, and Lother Stelter. (1995). By the El: Third Avenue and Its El at Mid-Century. Flushing, NY: H&M Productions. ISBN 1882608127.

External links

See also

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