Tag Archives: Elevated

Jerome Avenue, The Bronx In 1914 and Today

Jerome Avenue In 1914 and 102 Years Later

bronx-jerome-avenue-from-clarke-place-looking-north-march-1914It was reported that since 2010 the Bronx is the fastest growing county in New York State.

Believe it or not, this bucolic scene shown above, from March 1914, is in the Bronx at Jerome Avenue looking north from Clarke Place.

I have not been able to identify the lone building on the left.  Besides some telephone and telegraph wires, Belgian block paved streets and trolley tracks, modernity had not yet touched most of the Bronx. The population according to the 1915 police census was 649,726.

In 1914 the Bronx was prosperous and living there was considered to be a sign of upward mobility.

Fast forward 102 years later. Below is the same street from about the same spot.

bronx-jerome-avenue-from-clarke-place-looking-north-200-photo-google-mapsJerome Avenue was transformed by the construction of the El in 1917 and 1918, darkening the street, but fostering a building boom. Continue reading

Old New York In Postcards #14

Twelve Postcard Views Of The Vanished New York Elevated

Elevated South Ferry Terminals

South Ferry Terminals, where all four of New York’s elevated train lines commenced and ended their travels

The most dramatic change in transportation in 19th century New York came with the building of the elevated train, known simply to generations of New Yorkers as the “el” or “L”. Here with 12 postcard views is a brief history of the New York Elevated.

Battery Park Elevated

Battery Park Elevated with the Washington Building on the right, and the Whitehall Building on the left.

The first elevated train line was the Ninth Avenue El which began service in 1869 as a single track line which was operated by a cable. The train ran from the Battery to 31st Street. Continue reading

Second Avenue Elevated, 100 Years Ago

A View Of The Second Avenue El From 14th Street

Second Avenue El from First Ave 14th Street Station Jan 13 1915The Second Avenue Elevated (El for short) was one of four elevated train lines that ran in Manhattan. This photo was taken 100 years ago today on Wednesday, January 13, 1915, and shows the view looking north from the 14th street station and First Avenue. That is correct, the Second Avenue El ran on First Avenue up until it turned west on 23rd Street to continue north on Second Avenue.

Enlarging the photo, at track level we can see the next station at 19th Street. At street level there is little activity, with a few people going about their errands. We see on the left side of the street a wall advertisement for Mecca Cigarettes and on the right side of the street on the second floor, a pawn shop window advertisement saying they’ve been “here since 1880” and a warning to any criminals that they have Holmes Electrical Protection (inventors of the modern burglar alarm).

The Els in Manhattan were discontinued over a 17 year period. The first to shut down was the Sixth Avenue El in 1938, followed by the Ninth Avenue El in 1940 and the Second Avenue El in 1942. The Third Avenue El ceased service in 1955 (the Bronx part of the Third Avenue line continued running until 1973), bringing a close to the era of Manhattan elevated trains.

The Ninth Avenue Elevated Train Crash Of 1905

 In 1905, The Worst Elevated Train Accident In New York’s History Occurred

9th ave elevated railway accident 9 11 1905 postcard photo R Weigel

For as long as you live September 11 will be remembered as the date of  the terrorist attacks on America that brought down the World Trade Center towers. But before 2001,  9/11 marked the anniversary of the worst elevated train disaster in New York’s history. It is a disaster no one wanted to remember and was quickly forgotten except by train and New York history buffs.

The four elevated lines in Manhattan which had a glorious history are long gone, demolished between 1938 and 1955. The elevated lines began service in 1878 and until the subway was built, they provided the quickest and safest routes around New York.

9th Ave 53rd Street junction photo via -  http://warofyesterday.blogspot.com

9th Ave 53rd Street elevated junction
photo via – http://warofyesterday.blogspot.com

But there were always fears among riders that one day an elevated train would jump the tracks.

Those fears came true on September 11, 1905.

Not surprisingly it happened at one of the more dangerous stretches of track along the elevated system.

The Sixth and Ninth Avenue Elevated lines shared their tracks above 53rd Street along Ninth Avenue. At 53rd Street the lines diverged, with the Sixth Avenue el traveling three avenues east along 53rd Street to continue its journey along Sixth Avenue.

At that Ninth Avenue junction, the towerman (also called switchman) was responsible for controlling whether trains traveling downtown would continue straight on the Ninth Avenue line or go along 53rd Street to the Sixth Avenue line.

The passengers aboard a five car “el” train that September 11 morning believed their train was going to continue straight down Ninth Avenue, as that was what the station guards at the previous station at 59th Street had told them.

If the train was proceeding down Sixth Avenue it was supposed to come to a full stop at 54th street and await a signal. The recommended maximum speed if a train was to continue down Ninth Avenue was nine miles per hour.

Diagram of Ninth Avenue El crash

Diagram of Ninth Avenue El crash (click to enlarge)

It was 7:05 in the morning as Paul Kelly, the motorman of the el train approached the intersection at 53rd street without stopping.

Witnesses said Kelly slowed down a bit but the train’s estimated speed was 25 miles per hour. Continue reading

This Is What Riding The Third Avenue Elevated Was Like In 1950

A Train Ride New Yorkers Will Never Experience Again

Third Avenue El photo Joseph FrankThis is a portrait of a vanished New York unlike any other ever captured on film.

This ten minute impressionistic documentary film Third Avenue El (1950) is occasionally shown on Turner Classic Movies. If you love old New York City and have never seen the film, I strongly recommend you watch it (below).

On all levels this is a magnificent film and I’m so grateful that writer/director Carson Davidson preserved so many aspects of mid-century New York, all in glorious color.

Service on the Third Ave. El ended in 1955 and the tracks were soon torn down, forever altering  the streets of New York.

The Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade In 1936

How The Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade Balloons Looked in 1936 – Snapshots Taken From Broadway & 92nd Street

Macy's Parade 1936 120 foot long Dragon balloon

Macy’s Parade 1936 120 foot long Dragon balloon

The first Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade was held in 1924. In 1928 helium filled balloons made their first appearance. By the early 1930’s over one million people were attending the parade.

The Thanksgiving Day Parade held on November 26, 1936 was quite a different affair than it is today.

At 1 pm on 110th Street near the south wall of The Church of St. John the Divine just off of Amsterdam Avenue, the paraders and balloons lined up and made their way west to Broadway. The parade route then remained on Broadway for its entire length until it reached Herald Square. There were 2,311 policemen assigned special parade duty along the route, with mounted men to lead the march and bring up the rear. As incredible as this may seem, on the main crosstown arteries of 34th, 42nd and 59th streets, traffic was let through, even if it meant temporarily halting the parade.

Macy's Parade 1936 Indian Balloon

Macy’s Parade 1936 Indian Balloon

Macy's Parade 1936 Turkey Balloon

Macy’s Parade 1936 Turkey Balloon

Macy's Parade 1936 Two Headed Giant

Macy’s Parade 1936 Two Headed Giant

 

 

 

 

 

Continue reading

Old New York In Photos #28

New York City In Old Color Photographs At The Turn Of The Century

Mulberry Street Detroit Publishing Company

Mulberry Street in color New York City 1900

Life was colorful in turn of the century New York City. But because almost all the photographs we see from that era are in black and white, it is hard to imagine what the city looked like in its full color glory.

The Library of Congress holds the incredible collection of The Detroit Publishing Company who manufactured postcards and chronicled the world with their photographs from 1880-1920.

One of the processes used to achieve color was called the photochrom. Photochrom’s are color photo lithographs created from a black and white photographic negative. Color impressions are achieved through the application of multiple lithograph stones, one per color. In 1897, the Detroit Publishing Company brought the process over from Switzerland where it was first developed.

The images presented here were eventually used for postcards. Here is a look at New York circa 1900 in high resolution color photographs. Click on any image to vastly enlarge.

South Street Brooklyn Bridge 1900 Detroit Publishing

South Street and Brooklyn Bridge 1900

Looking north along South Street with the Brooklyn Bridge in the background. This was still the age when shipping and boats crowded the harbor.

City Hall 1900 Detroit Publishing

City Hall New York City 1900

City Hall looking northwest with a sliver of City Hall Park on the bottom extreme left. Continue reading

The Forgotten Brooklyn Elevated Train Crash Of 1923

June 25, 1923 Intersection of Atlantic and Flatbush Avenues

Photo © Osmund Leviness

“Those who died were fortunate it seemed to me when I looked inside the cars. As long as I live I can never forget it. All the people were in a mass there, struggling and screaming, with blood running over them. They all seemed to be bleeding or stained with blood. One woman’s head was terribly cut on top, and one jaw seemed to be crushed in. The hand of another woman was almost cut off. One woman I took out through a window died a few minutes after I carried her into the post office. I can’t forget the inside of those cars. They looked like my idea of purgatory.” –  Traffic Officer Joseph J. Ryan who was on the scene immediately after the crash.

This incredible accident happened 89 years ago, Monday, June 25, 1923  as two cars of the BMT derailed and plunged 35 feet into the street at the intersection of Atlantic and Flatbush Avenues in Brooklyn. Continue reading