IRT Ninth Avenue Line

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The Ninth Avenue El's "suicide curve" at 110th Street, in 1896

The IRT Ninth Avenue Line, often called the Ninth Avenue El,[1] was the first elevated railway in New York City. It opened in 1868 as the West Side and Yonkers Patent Railway, a cable-hauled line. It ceased operation in 1940.

The last section in use, over the Harlem River, was known as the Polo Grounds Shuttle, and was closed in 1958. This portion used the now-removed Putnam Bridge swing bridge[2][3] and went through a tunnel, complete with partially underground stations.[4]

History[edit]

The West Side and Yonkers Patent Railway[edit]

West Side and Yonkers Patent Railway test run, 1867

The West Side and Yonkers Patent Railway was built on Greenwich Street by Charles T. Harvey and ran from July 1, 1868 to 1870. The line used multiple one-mile-long (1.6 km-long) cable loops, driven by steam engines in cellars of buildings adjacent to the track. Each loop was started when a car neared it and stopped when it had passed. The cables were equipped with collars that the car connected to with "claws". As the claws could not be "slipped" the car was jerked each time it moved to the next cable. The system proved cumbersome, broke down several times and eventually the company ran out of money and the system was abandoned. The new owners replaced the cable cars with steam locomotives.

Extension[edit]

The Ninth Avenue Elevated was extended up Greenwich Street and Ninth Avenue by 1891. The Ninth Avenue El and several other lines of the Manhattan Railway company were taken over with a 99 year lease by the Interborough Rapid Transit Company on April 1, 1903.[5][6] The rebuilding project was extended all the way north to 116th St., creating Manhattan's first three-track elevated, although center-track express service did not begin until 1916.

Berenice Abbott photograph of Ninth Avenue El station at 72nd Street, 1936

The line began at South Ferry and ran along Greenwich Street from Battery Place to Gansevoort Street in lower Manhattan, Ninth Avenue in midtown (joining with the Sixth Avenue El at 53rd Street, continuing along Columbus Avenue in upper Manhattan between 59th Street and 110th, turning east on 110th and running north on Eighth Avenue until the Harlem River.[7]

The line was closed in 1940 and dismantled, following the purchase of the IRT by the City of New York. The line from 155th Street north into the Bronx was continued as the "Polo Grounds Shuttle" until 1958.

The Ninth Ave Elevated was over 100 feet (30 m) above the street at "Suicide Curve", which made a 90-degree turn from 9th Ave onto 110th St. then another from 110th St. onto 8th Avenue. The curve at 53rd Street, however, was the site of a September 11, 1905 derailment that was the worst accident in the history of New York's elevated railways.

Station listing[edit]

From the Bronx to the southern tip of Manhattan, the stations were:

Station Tracks Opening date Closing date Transfers & Notes
merge with IRT Jerome Avenue Line between 161st Street and 167th Street
Anderson–Jerome Avenues all July 1, 1918 August 31, 1958 Still exists in ruins
Sedgwick Avenue all July 1, 1918[dubious ][8] August 31, 1958 Still exists in ruins
ManhattanBronx border, bridge over Harlem River
tracks split to the 159th Street Yard
155th Street all 1870 August 31, 1958
151st Street local June 11, 1940
145th Street all June 11, 1940
140th Street local June 11, 1940
135th Street local June 11, 1940
130th Street local June 11, 1940
125th Street all June 11, 1940
116th Street all June 11, 1940
110th Street local June 11, 1940
104th Street local June 11, 1940
99th Street local June 11, 1940
93rd Street local June 11, 1940
81st Street local June 9, 1879[9] June 11, 1940
72nd Street local June 9, 1879[9] June 11, 1940
66th Street all June 11, 1940
59th Street local June 9, 1879[9] June 11, 1940
merged at 53rd Street with branch of IRT Sixth Avenue Line
50th Street local June 11, 1940
42nd Street local June 11, 1940
34th Street all June 11, 1940
30th Street local June 11, 1940
23rd Street local June 11, 1940
14th Street all June 11, 1940
Christopher Street all June 11, 1940
Houston Street local June 11, 1940
Desbrosses Street all June 11, 1940
Franklin Street local June 11, 1940
Warren Street all June 11, 1940
Barclay Street local June 11, 1940
Cortlandt Street all June 11, 1940
Rector Street local June 11, 1940
split from IRT Sixth Avenue Line
Battery Place all June 11, 1940
South Ferry all various ferries (see South Ferry)

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Remembering the 9th Avenue El". MTA.info. October 26, 2011. Retrieved 2011-10-28. 
  2. ^ "Image 8282". nycsubway.org. 1958-06-14. Retrieved 2007-11-27. 
  3. ^ "Image 8296". nycsubway.org. Retrieved 2007-11-27. 
  4. ^ Walsh, Kevin. "When Is a Subway Not a Subway?". Forgotten NY. Retrieved 2007-11-27. 
  5. ^ Feinman, Mark S. "Continuing the Story of the 9th Avenue El". Retrieved 2009-08-04. "On April 1, 1903, the entire Manhattan Elevated system was leased to the IRT Company for 999 years. Subway system construction was planned to connect with the Els at various points. By June 25th, 1903, the last steam-powered elevated train was operated in passenger service on the 9th Ave El." 
  6. ^ Walker, James Blaine (1918). Fifty Years of Rapid Transit, 1864-1917. pp. 182–186. 
  7. ^ The Red Book: New York. New York: Interstate Map Co. 1935. 
  8. ^ [1]
  9. ^ a b c "The Manhattan Company. Opening of the West Side to Eighty-first Street - The Sunday Trains" (PDF). The New York Times Company. 10 June 1879. p. 8. Retrieved 11 February 2009. 

External links[edit]