IRT Ninth Avenue Line
The IRT Ninth Avenue Line, often called the Ninth Avenue El, 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 and went through a tunnel, complete with partially underground stations.
West Side and Yonkers Patent Railway
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 original northern terminus was 29th Street, and the southern terminus was Dey Street. 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.
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. 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.
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.
As of 1934, the following services were being operated:
- 9th Avenue Local - South Ferry to 155th Street all hours, extended Sundays and late nights to Burnside Avenue via Jerome Avenue Line.
- 9th Avenue Express - Rector Street to Burnside Avenue via Jerome Avenue Line weekdays and Saturdays daytime, extended to Fordham Road weekday rush periods, also Saturday morning rush and afternoon thru PM peak. These trains ran express south of 155th Street southbound until noon and northbound after noon, and made all stops in the opposite direction.
After the 6th Avenue Elevated was closed on December 4, 1938, weekday and Saturday evening 9th Avenue locals were extended from 155th Street to Burnside Avenue to replace 6th Avenue Elevated service.
The line was closed June 11, 1940 and dismantled, following the purchase of the IRT by the City of New York. Service from 155th Street to Burnside Avenue in the Bronx was continued as the "Polo Grounds Shuttle" at all hours. The shuttle was cut back to 167th Street June 1, 1941, and was discontinued October 31, 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||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. Service continued north along the Jerome Avenue Line to 167th Street when the new Bronx stations opened. Service was further extended to Woodlawn on January 2, 1919.|
|Sedgwick Avenue||all||July 1, 1918[dubious ]||August 31, 1958||Still exists in ruins. Transfer point with New York Central Railroad's Putnam Division.|
|Manhattan – Bronx border, bridge over Harlem River|
|tracks split to the 159th Street Yard|
|155th Street||all||1879||August 31, 1958||Station was built next to New York Central Railroad's Putnam Division southern terminus and was a transfer point until the Putnam Division stopped service into Manhattan in 1918.|
|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||1891||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||June 11, 1940|
|72nd Street||local||June 9, 1879||June 11, 1940|
|66th Street||all||June 11, 1940|
|59th Street||local||June 9, 1879||June 11, 1940||Transfer to Sixth Avenue Elevated|
|merged at 53rd Street with branch of IRT Sixth Avenue Line|
|50th Street||local||June 11, 1940|
|42nd Street||local||November 6, 1875||June 11, 1940|
|34th Street||all||July 30, 1873||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||Transfer to Sixth Avenue Elevated|
|South Ferry||all||April 5, 1877||December 22, 1950, but was no longer used by Ninth Avenue El after June 11, 1940.||Various ferries (see South Ferry.) Transfer to Second, Third and Sixth Avenue Elevated Lines.|
- "Remembering the 9th Avenue El". MTA.info. October 26, 2011. Retrieved 2011-10-28.
- "Image 8282". nycsubway.org. 1958-06-14. Retrieved 2007-11-27.
- "Image 8296". nycsubway.org. Retrieved 2007-11-27.
- Walsh, Kevin. "When Is a Subway Not a Subway?". Forgotten NY. Retrieved 2007-11-27.
- "The 9th Avenue Elevated-Polo Grounds Shuttle". nycsubway.org. 2012. Retrieved 2014-07-03.
- 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.
- Walker, James Blaine (1918). Fifty Years of Rapid Transit, 1864-1917. pp. 182–186.
- The Red Book: New York. New York: Interstate Map Co. 1935.
- "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.
- "The 3rd Avenue Elevated". nycsubway.org. 2012. Retrieved 2014-07-03.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to IRT Ninth Avenue Line.|
- "Open New Subway to Regular Traffic" (PDF). New York Times. 1918-07-02. p. 11. Retrieved 2007-11-27.
- Beach Pneumatic Transit Co by Joseph Brennan Full of Photographs and information about the line, particularly Chapter 14.
- NYCsubway.org - The 9th Avenue Elevated
- 1939 track map
- Time Traveling on the NYC Ninth Ave El - A History of New York City (Manhattan) Elevated Railways