Tag Archives: Second Avenue

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.

Old New York In Postcards #10 – Restaurants

A Look At Churchill’s and Four Other Restaurants From Old New York

Exterior Churchills Restaurant Broadway 49th St c 1915Churchill’s Restaurant southwest corner 49th Street and Broadway, circa 1915.

Police Sergeant Jim Churchill did not have the background of a typical restauranteur. He put in 20 years on the job policing the streets of New York and was named acting Captain of a precinct in the Bowery for a few months starting in November of 1901. He wound up being dismissed from the force in 1902 for neglect of duty.

It seems that Churchill was not aggressive enough in closing saloons operating illegally on Sunday and shutting down houses of ill-repute under his jurisdiction. From reading the newspaper accounts of his trial, Churchill may have been set up by others in the police department who wanted his ouster.

Churchill, with the help of friends and backers went into business for himself. In May 1903 Churchill ironically opened a saloon at 1420 Broadway between 39th and 40th Streets. The small bar and restaurant prospered and in 1906 he moved north to new digs on Broadway at 46th street to a space which could accommodate up to 350 patrons.

But even that was not enough room for the captain’s friends and clientele. In 1909 Churchill built for himself a spacious, luxurious entertainment and feasting palace at 49th Street that could seat 1,400 diners. Designed by architect Harold M. Baer, the three story terra cotta brick building with stucco ornamentation attracted huge crowds. Even with so much more space, guests frequently would have to wait in line for a table as capacity crowds filled the restaurant.

Employing over 300 people and with an annual advertising budget of $50,000 for a $250,000 business, Churchill’s became world famous and remained a favorite restaurant and cabaret spot for the Broadway crowd throughout the teens.

Churchill’s stayed in business until prohibition cut into profits and forced Jim Churchill to close his doors and lease the space to a Chinese restaurant. The building was demolished in 1937 and the location eventually housed heavyweight champ Jack Dempsey’s Broadway Bar and Grill from 1938 until its closing in 1974.

Churchill went abroad for a number of years after closing his restaurant and upon returning to the states, he commented about the changes that many New York City restaurants had undergone during the 1920’s. To the New York Times he remarked, “Hostesses? There were no such things in my days. No one ever thought of such a thing. It was not permitted that any woman come into a restaurant-cabaret unaccompanied. Instead of hostesses I employed 30 boys, one of them the late Rudolph Valentino, to dance with women who came unescorted for luncheon.”

When Churchill died in 1930 at the age of 67, he left most of his sizable estate, a half million dollars, to his wife.

Exterior Cafe Boulevard Restarant 156 2nd ave at 10th st 1911The Cafe Boulevard 156 Second Ave southeast corner of 10th Street, circa 1909. Continue reading

Old New York In Photos #23

Subway Excavation, Broadway and 49th Street – 1901

While the MTA is currently striving to build the new Second Avenue subway without disturbing businesses along the route, the Interborough Rapid Transit Company (IRT) had no such compunction about hampering businesses as demonstrated by this photograph taken on November 26, 1901.

We are looking north along Broadway towards 49th Street. The J.B. Brewster Carriage showroom is on the left at 1581 Broadway. The “cut and cover method” of subway building is shown here in full swing. More than half the street is blocked off to dig the necessary trench.

This method of building, which disturbed all the utilities, businesses, and residents along the route, was not only cost effective, but fast.

Ground Breaking Ceremony Brochure 1900

It took less than four and a half years for the original subway line, nine miles in length, to be completed. Ground breaking for the subway occurred March 24, 1900 and the first section from City Hall to 145th Street was opened to the public on October 26, 1904.  According to the book Interborough Rapid Transit The New York Subway Its Construction and Equipment (McGraw Publishing; 1904) the amount paid by the city for the construction was $35,000,000 and an additional sum was given not to exceed $2,750,000 for terminals, station sites, and other purposes.

It was an amazing accomplishment considering what New Yorker’s are currently putting up with just to build a two mile section of a new subway on Second Avenue.

First New York Subway Map 1904

MTA Propaganda

Open For Business  ** Shop 2nd Ave ** It’s Worth It!

A cryptic poster on a city bus that says absolutely nothing. Typical of the MTA.

The punishment for the person who wrote this slogan should be to live in an apartment adjacent to the constant construction.

Below is the text of this MTA sign pictured above that “encourages” shoppers.

The many interesting shops, restaurants and services on Second Avenue are open while MTA Capital Construction builds the Second Avenue Subway. Shop Second Avenue. It’s Worth It!

Visit mta.info and click on the Capital Construction link for more about your local shops, restaurants and services.

The Manhattan Chamber of Commerce is a partner with MTA Capital Construction in support of local establishments as construction continues on the Second Avenue Subway.

This is going to convince anyone to shop in the construction zone?

Lame signs do not get people to shop in an area that is having many of its businesses being decimated by the constant construction for the Second Avenue Subway project. The poor business owners and residents along the construction route have suffered since 2007 and many stores have gone under in the intervening four-plus years.

Solutions, Not Signs

More people might patronize the establishments on Second Avenue if the MTA didn’t in a prima facie way, block access to the stores along the construction path. One side of certain streets appear to be inaccessible. Maybe the MTA could cut down on the hours that allowed filth and noise to be generated. Or just make a conscious effort to make the streets more inviting by not chopping the sidewalks to half their normal width and blocking re-routing crosswalks, making it difficult for pedestrians to stroll.

Plus the area is just plain ugly. It seems little or no thought was given into making the avenue look more appealing.  The fences, walls and temporary banners give Second Avenue a very shabby appearance. In many places Second Avenue looks more like a post-war zone, not a construction zone.

Originally the MTA projected the first phase from 105th Street to 72nd Street of the Second Avenue subway would be completed in 2014.  It is of course delayed and over budget. If they don’t run out of funds it might be completed by June 2018.

One side note: the entire first phase of the original New York City subway from City Hall to 145th Street, (almost nine miles) was built in just over four years from March 27, 1900 – October 26, 1904.

New York City MTA’s Select Bus Service – A Decent Idea, Poorly Executed

SBS Should Stand for Stupid Bus System

It has been several months since the Metropolitan Transit Authority replaced Limited Stop Bus Service on First and Second Avenues in Manhattan with Select Bus Service to speed up trips.

Having used it for most weekdays since its inception in October 2010 I’m ready to offer a judgment – it still needs a lot of improvements.

Now remember, this is the MTA. This is the organization that cannot determine if it has a deficit or a surplus in a year.  They are the organization that has announcements on the subways that say, “Thank you for riding with MTA New York City Transit!” As if we have any choice but to use this bureaucratic monopoly. If they were a business entity they would be out of business or the board members would have all been fired.

So I should not expect the MTA to do much right, but foolishly I believe they will figure out the shortcomings of the SBS system by observation or complaints and make adjustments.

Apparently they will not.

Narrow Aisles

First the buses themselves.  The bus aisles were designed by a groper. The aisles are so narrow that two people cannot pass each other without rubbing into one another.  Either that or Nova Bus, a subsidiary of Volvo, hired Japanese transit designers.  From what I’ve seen of the Japanese transit system they pack them in like sardines and actually have “pushers” to  squeeze everyone into the trains (if someone did this to me I’d freak out.)

The articulated buses can supposedly hold 60 passengers. Providing that they are under 120 pounds each.

Don’t Yell Fire in Here

The buses get so crowded that I have seen people actually Continue reading