Sixth Avenue Line (Manhattan surface)

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The Sixth Avenue Line was a public transit line in Manhattan, New York City, running mostly along Sixth Avenue from Lower Manhattan to Central Park. Originally a streetcar line and later a bus route, it has been absorbed into the M5 bus route, which replaced the Broadway Line, as its northbound direction.

Route description[edit]

The Sixth Avenue Line begins at the South Ferry, and runs north along State Street and then west on Battery Place. It then turns right onto Greenwich Street. Greenwich Street changes names to Trinity Place, and then Church Street. It then bears left onto Sixth Avenue, also known as Avenue of the Americas. It follows Sixth Avenue until its end at Central Park South (West 59th Street).

The Fifth and Sixth Avenues Line (M5/M55) follows the same route as the former Sixth Avenue Line.[1]


The Sixth Avenue Railroad opened the line from Chambers Street and West Broadway north along West Broadway, Canal Street, Varick Street, Carmine Street, and Sixth Avenue to 43rd Street (soon 44th Street) on August 11, 1852;[2] the Eighth Avenue Railroad began using the trackage along and south of Canal Street on August 30.[3] In 1853, it was extended south along West Broadway to the new depot at Barclay Street, and a branch was added on Canal Street east to Broadway. On October 7, 1853, trackage was added on Church Street, Chambers Street, and Barclay Street to form a loop.[4] The grant given to the Sixth and Eighth Avenue Railroads specified that they would run to Broadway and Vesey Street;[5] this extension, in Church and Vesey Streets, was opened by 1865.[6]

Extensions to the north opened to 49th Street in March 1856 and to 59th Street by 1865. Cars were later extended west on 59th Street and north on Columbus Avenue, Broadway, and Amsterdam Avenue into Upper Manhattan, and a branch (the Sixth Avenue Ferry Line) was added via the Metropolitan Crosstown Line, along Watts Street and West Street to the Desbrosses Street Ferry.

By 1935, the last full year of operation, the Sixth Avenue line, now run by the New York Railways Company, ran from 4th Street to 59th Street. The fare, as for all street car lines at the time, was 5 cents, with transfers costing an additional 2 cents.[7]

Buses were substituted for streetcars by the New York City Omnibus Corporation (which numbered it 5) on March 3, 1936. When Sixth Avenue and Broadway became one-way streets, the NYCO's bus 6 (which replaced the Broadway Line) was rerouted largely over the former Sixth Avenue Line northbound.


  1. ^ "M5 bus timetable" (PDF).  (561 KB), effective April 2012
  2. ^ The New York Times, Sixth-Avenue Railroad, August 11, 1852
  3. ^ The New York Times, Eighth-Avenue Railroad, August 30, 1852
  4. ^ The New York Times, Sixth and Eighth-Avenue Railroads, October 8, 1853
  5. ^ The New York Times, Board of Councilmen, April 19, 1855
  6. ^ The New York Times, Our City Railroads, December 26, 1865
  7. ^ Red Book New York City. New York: Interstate Map Co. 1935. p. 183.