IRT Second Avenue Line

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Not to be confused with Second Avenue Subway.

The IRT Second Avenue Line, also known as the Second Avenue El, was an elevated railway in Manhattan, New York City, United States, from 1875 to 1942. It was operated by the Interborough Rapid Transit Company until 1940, when the city took over the failing line. Service north of the 57th Street ended on June 11, 1940; the rest of the line closed on June 13, 1942.[1]

The Second Avenue El, looking south on First Avenue from 13th Street during its demolition in September 1942

History[edit]

In 1875, the Rapid Transit Commission granted the Gilbert Elevated Railway Company the right to construct the railway from Battery Park to the Harlem River along Second Avenue.[2]

The commission also granted the Gilbert Elevated Railway Company the right to operate the Sixth Avenue Elevated and soon afterward the Gilbert Elevated Railway changed its name to the Metropolitan Elevated Railway.

A third track was added to the line between 1914 and 1916. The additional track made possible express service on the line during peak hours.

The Second Avenue El did not run entirely on Second Avenue. Its southern terminus was City Hall, and it continued to Chatham Square, where it junctioned with the Third Avenue El and ran along Division Street and then Allen Street. At Houston Street it ran north on First Avenue, where it turned left on 23rd Street ran north on Second Avenue to 129th Street. At that point it joined with the Third Avenue El and crossed the Harlem River into the Bronx. [3]

As of 1934 Second Avenue service operated as follows:

  • Second Avenue Local - day and evenings 129th Street to South Ferry, alternate evening and Sunday trains 129th Street to City Hall. No all-night service was operated.
  • Second Avenue Express - Bronx Park to City Hall weekday and Saturday AM peak southbound, City Hall to Fordham Road or Tremont Avenue weekday PM peak northbound, also Freeman Street to City Hall via West Farms Road Line, making express stops in Manhattan.
  • Second Avenue-Queens - South Ferry to Willets Point Blvd weekday and Saturday AM peak, City Hall to Willets Point Blvd weekday midday and PM peak, 57th Street to Willets Point Blvd evenings and Sundays. In addition City Hall to Astoria Weekday AM peak and midday and Saturday daytime, South Ferry to Astoria weekday PM peak, 57th Street to Astoria evenings and Sundays. Midday and Saturday trains used the express tracks, weekday peak trains made all stops.

On April 23, 1939 express service was inaugurated weekday and Saturday daytime in Queens between Queensboro Plaza and 111th Street, where elevated trains were cut back to. On September 8, 1939 Astoria trains were rerouted in the weekday PM peak to City Hall. The Second Avenue Elevated was closed north of 59th Street June 12, 1940. Evening and Sunday Queens trains were extended to City Hall or South Ferry. On May 19, 1941 evening and Sunday service was discontinued. Finally, on June 13, 1942 all service was discontinued.

The M15 bus, which runs along much of the IRT Second Avenue Elevated Line's route, carries more passengers than any other route in New York City. However, it does not carry as many passengers as a rapid transit line; additionally, transfers to rapid transit stations can only be made using surface connections. The Second Avenue Subway, a rapid transit route following much of the same route, has been under consideration since 1919, 23 years before the 1942 demolition of the IRT Second Avenue Line. The first phase is under construction as of 2007, and is scheduled to open in December 2016.

Station listing[edit]

Station Tracks Opened Closed Notes
Merges with IRT Third Avenue Line
125th Street all After the line opened June 11, 1940
121st Street local June 11, 1940
117th Street local June 11, 1940
111th Street local June 11, 1940
105th Street local After the line opened June 11, 1940
99th Street local June 13, 1942
92nd Street local June 11, 1940
86th Street all June 11, 1940
80th Street local June 11, 1940
72nd Street local June 11, 1940
65th Street local March 1, 1880[4] June 11, 1940
Branch over Queensboro Bridge to Queensboro Plaza leaves at 59th Street
57th Street all June 13, 1942
50th Street local June 13, 1942
42nd Street all March 1, 1880[4] June 13, 1942
34th Street local June 13, 1942 Transfer to branch to 34th Street Ferry
23rd Street local March 1, 1880[4] June 13, 1942
19th Street local June 13, 1942
14th Street all March 1, 1880[4] June 13, 1942
Eighth Street local March 1, 1880[4] June 13, 1942
First Street local March 1, 1880[4] June 13, 1942
Rivington Street local March 1, 1880[4] June 13, 1942
Grand Street local March 1, 1880[4] June 13, 1942
Canal Street local March 1, 1880[4] June 13, 1942
Chatham Square all March 1, 1880[4] May 12, 1955 Transfer to Third Avenue Line and branch to City Hall
Merges with IRT Third Avenue Line
Franklin Square all August 26, 1878[5] December 22, 1950
Fulton Street all August 26, 1878[5] December 22, 1950
Hanover Square all August 26, 1878[5] December 22, 1950
Merges with IRT Ninth Avenue Line
South Ferry all August 26, 1878[5] December 22, 1950

References[edit]

  1. ^ Staff. "Second Avenue 'El' Coming to a Stop", The Christian Science Monitor, June 13, 1942. Accessed October 12, 2008.
  2. ^ Rapid Transit in New York City and in Other Great Cities. prepared by the Chamber of Commerce of the State of New York. 1905. p. 52. Retrieved 2009-02-11. 
  3. ^ Red Book Information Guide to New York. Interstate Map Co. 1935. 
  4. ^ a b c d e f g h i j "More Elevated Facilities, the Second Avenue Line and City Hall Branch Opened" (PDF). The New York Times Company. 2 March 1880. p. 3. Retrieved 21 February 2009. 
  5. ^ a b c d "Rapid Transit on the Bowery" (PDF). The New York Times Company. 26 August 1878. p. 8. Retrieved 10 February 2009. 

Further reading[edit]

  • "Second Avenue El in Manhattan". By NJI Publishing with text provided by Joe Cunningham. 1995. ISBN 0-934088-33-0

External links[edit]