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Remember the 3rd Ave El?

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Remember the 3rd Ave El?
Posted by FJ and G on Monday, October 6, 2003 6:26 AM
Rode it a lot in the 60s. Just wondering if anyone else ever rode it. It went from Mott Haven (?) to White Plains. I lived near Tremont and rode it both ways. Was a great little el. Too bad they tore it down.
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Posted by CSSHEGEWISCH on Monday, October 6, 2003 10:24 AM
Not being a New Yorker, I can't say much about the 3rd Avenue and other Manhattan Els but I was surprised to find out that IRT subway equipment was too heavy for the Els and the same situation applied to the BMT with the Els in Brooklyn. As an outsider, I would guess that this imcompatibility issue was a factor in the abandonment of the Els. In Chicago, the subway was built to tie in with the rest of the L so except for wooden cars being barred from the subway, any equipment could run anywhere.
The daily commute is part of everyday life but I get two rides a day out of it. Paul
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Posted by Anonymous on Wednesday, October 8, 2003 1:44 PM
I am not sure if you are talking about NY, but if so, here is a great site that includes ELs, subways, other transit and trains.

http://www.forgotten-ny.com/

Andrew
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Posted by Anonymous on Thursday, October 9, 2003 4:28 PM
I remember when I was a young lad in brooklyn N.Y. we would ride an el that actually had wooden coaches with outside platform cars.although they did have air brakes,the cars still had there outside brake wheels in place. yeah,they don't make em like they use to.
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Posted by Anonymous on Monday, October 13, 2003 1:19 AM
I grew up in the Bronx from 1950-1956 near 143rd and Morris Ave and rode the 3rd Ave El many times. Those were great times. I saw the " Projects" I lived in as a kid in some pictures in a NYC book that showed trains crossing the Harlem river into the Bronx. After moving to California I 've been back to NY several times but the only time I passed thru the Bronx was in 1999 on a train ride from Grand Cenral up to New England that passed by the 138th St. station
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Posted by Anonymous on Sunday, November 2, 2003 5:04 PM
I remember Brooklyn in the 60`s around X-MAS ,,the sounds and sights of the EL were the best...
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Posted by Anonymous on Friday, February 27, 2004 10:49 PM
The train you rode was the NY W & B. It was the New York, Westchester & Boston as I recall. May have been Bronx. I'm not sure. It was a separate Corp. from the NYC subway system. As I recall, there was a book , many years ago, which covered its rise and ultimate downfall. Look around. You may find it available somewhere.
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Posted by CSSHEGEWISCH on Saturday, February 28, 2004 7:04 AM
If I remember my resources correctly, part of the NYW&B right-of-way did become part of the NYCTA.

The best place to find out is: http://www.nycsubway.org/
The daily commute is part of everyday life but I get two rides a day out of it. Paul
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Posted by Anonymous on Tuesday, November 1, 2005 10:32 AM
The Dyre Avenue LIne of the IRT (#5 train) runs on the remenants of the Old NYB&W railroad that were taken over by the City when the NYB& W ceased operations.
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Posted by daveklepper on Tuesday, November 1, 2005 11:34 AM
Points to clear up. The 3rd Avenue Elevated did not run to White Plains. That is outside New York City and is served today by Metro North on its Harlem Division line to Wasiaic, electrified to what was Brewster North and is now Northeast or Southwest or some such name. In the old days North White Plains was the north end of the electrification but the New York Central continued past Wasiaic to Chatham and a junction with its Boston and Albany line, and a few Haralem division passenger trains operated east on the B&A and then north to North Adams, with a junction with the Boston and Maine's Hoosack Tunnel Boston - Troy line.

The 3rd Avenue elecated operated from South Ferry and City Hall (Paark Row) north to Est 241st Street and White Plains AVENUE (misnamed on all IRT metal signs White Plains Road for some obscure reason). From Gun Hill Road, not far from the Harlem Division's Wakefield Station, to 241st Street, tracks were shared with subway trains off the Lexington Avenue subway and now and at times off the Broadway 7th Avenue subway. Generally, the only trains running the total length of the line were the nightime locals . Otherwise, trains from South Ferry ran north to the Bronx Park station, on a one-station branch off the main line at Fordham Road station, right at Forham University and at the present Harlem Line Metro North Fordham Station. Trains from City Hall ran to both Bronx Park and 241st Street. There was special rush hour service after the 2nd Avenue elevated connection to the Bronx was ended in 1940 under transit unification, from City Hall to Freeman Street on the Westchester Avenue elevated structure used by the Lexington Avenue and Bropadway 7th Avenue lines. Also during rush hour there were locals that ran north only to Treemont Avenue. All day weekday service was provided by locals running only north to 129th Street. These locals came from both City Hall and South Ferry. During weekdays some express service was provided, but since the elevated had mostly only three tracks (exceptions being the Harlem River Bridge and north through the 143rd Street station where 2 upper level and 2 lower level tracks existed and south of the Chatham Square junction where both South Ferry and City Hall lines had 2 tracks), expressed ran only in one direction, south during the morning and north during the afternoon and evening, returning as locals or a non-revenue light movements. Generally, all trains except Treemont Avenue locals ran as expresses in Manhattan during weekdays throught the evening rush hour, but ran local in the Bronx, except a number of rush hour trains signed "Through Express" or "Thru Express", and these skipped the local stops, running on the center track between 149th Street and Treemont Avenue, then local north of there. Over weekends the center track in the Bronx was filled with stored rolling stock waiting for weekday service. Most of the service after 1940 was provided by wood cars originally built as gate cars, open platform, but modified with closed platforms and outside hung sliding doors and mutliple unit door control, and we called them MUDC's. The rush hour through express service was provide by the original composite wood-and-steel subway cars that opened the original subway and then were replaced quickly by the original steel cars. But there were a lot of open platform gate cars available for emergencies and special movements, and two trains of these ran regularly during the rush hours. These required one conductor between two cars to operate the gates, meaning the usual seven-car rush hour through express require seven people, the motorman (engineer) and six conductors. The front and back doors of the gate-car trains were supposed to be locked, but during WWII and after, they were left unlocked to speed loading, as passengers learned to work the gates on these open platform themselves and board. This meant that as a teenager I could sneak out on the back platform and enjoy the non stop express ride from 42nd Street to 106th Street. I have to confess to being the guilty party that stopped the doors from being left open. I pushed the envelope a bit to hard once. I rode from Coney Island to Park Row in a Macdonald-Vanderbilt or Coney Island - Smith Street PCC streetcar and continued my railfanning by waiting for one of the open gate trains at City Hall. Naturally, I wished to ride the open back platform. But at Canal Street the towerman must have spied me, because at a 42nd Street a transit policeman open the door and politely ordered me inside and afterward the doors were locked at the end of the trains. At least for a while, and i learned a lesson. In 1953 the Manhattan portion of the 3rd Avenue El was abandoned, and it became a line from 149th Street to Gun Hill Road only, until its 1960's complete abandonment. In the last years subway cars were used. For a while rebuilt BMT cars formerly used in Queens were used to replace the composites in through express service, and after service on the 3rd Avenue El they went to replace the last open gate cars on the BMT Myrtle Avenue elevated in Brooklyn.
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Posted by siberianmo on Tuesday, November 1, 2005 3:35 PM
And as a footnote to what daveklepper has chronicled so accurately, the reference to South Ferry really means "Staten Island Ferry" to those native to what used to be called the Borough of Richmond - an island larger than the Bronx and Manhattan in land mass. Anyway, I rode that El as a youngster with my "Gramps" many a Sunday. It was indeed a "treat" for a kid. Wonderful, wonderful memories back in the 1940s.

Thanx for bringin' up the subject! [tup]

Tom[4:-)][oX)]
Happy Railroading! Siberianmo
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Posted by daveklepper on Monday, November 7, 2005 2:39 PM
I must issue one correction, and this is the 2nd time I made the mistake, once in a letter to the NYC Mayor! The high elevated Gun Hill Road IRT station, still served by 2 (Broadway 7th Avenue) and 5 (Lexington Avenue) subway trains, and with two lower level tracks that are about the only remenants of the 3rd Avenue El existing, is near the Metro North ex-New York Central Williamsbridge Station, and Wakefield is further north, actually on the NYC - Westechester County line. Metro, the ex-NY Harlem devision has three stations in a row beginning with "W": Going north: Woodlawn, Williamsbridge, and Wakefield.

New York City has two stations named 7th Avenue, one at West 53rd St,. in Manhattan, and one on Flatbush Avenue in Brooklyn. The "B" train stops at both.
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Posted by Anonymous on Sunday, November 26, 2006 9:03 AM

was the steel from the third ave el sold to japan pre ww2 or was it some other line

 

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Posted by daveklepper on Monday, November 27, 2006 5:14 AM

Steel from both the Sixth Avenue Elevated, a branch of the Ninth Avenue Elelvated south of 53rd Street, rejoining at Rector Street in the financial area, torn down in 1938-1939, and from the Ninth Avenue Elelvated itself, torn down south of 155th Street in 1940, was sold to Japan before Pearl Harbor.

 

Possibly the Third Avenue elevated also, but that was considerably later, wll ater WWII, and Japan today is considered part of the Free World and a Democracy.   As is Germany.

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Posted by Tom Curtin on Tuesday, November 28, 2006 7:53 AM

Very interesting thread.  One correction, if I may: the 3rd Avenue El south of 149th Street made its last run in May 1955, not 1953 as stated elsewhere here.

I went to Fordham Univ. in The Bronx in the 60s during the el's last last years of operation there, and rode it many times --- under duress!.  It was a slow, annoying ride on crummy old equipment and I probably didn't appreciate it as much as I would today!  One thing I recall is that most if not all trains had some IRT low-V cars in the consist, and I believe this was the only remaining use of the Low V equipment (outside of an occasional fantrip) by the 1960s.  The old center express track by that time had been abandoned.  A short stub of the old Bronx Park branch remained just north of the Fordham Road station.  I never saw any photos of the Bronx Park branch in service.

 

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Posted by Tom Curtin on Wednesday, November 29, 2006 8:52 AM

By thre way, didn't the express stations on the 3rd Ave. in Manhattan have two levels with two tracks on a level, or am I thinking of something else?

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Posted by Tom Curtin on Wednesday, November 29, 2006 9:03 AM
 daveklepper wrote:

the Ninth Avenue Elelvated itself, torn down south of 155th Street in 1940,

We live on the upper west side and I am often on Columbus Avenue (for the uninitiated this is what 9th Ave. is called north of 59th St), which is beyond a doubt today, with its shops and cafes and meticulously preserved and renovated old buildings, one of the most pleasant stretches in Manhattan.  Every time I'm there I try to picture what a dingy cruddy avenue this avenue must have been in its under-the-el days.

I understand that way uptown, around someplace like 110th, the 9th Ave. had a roller-coaster like piece in which it did a couple of 90 deg. turns high above the street.  I guess this was done to circumvent Morningside Heights 

 

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Posted by daveklepper on Monday, December 4, 2006 4:49 AM

The  highest point on the whole elevated system was on 110th Street between Columbus ASvenue and Central Park West-8th Avenue, where the line made a huge S-curve with a straight center section to move from the 9th and Columbus Avenue alignment to use 8th Avenue north to 155th Street.   The 110th Street station was attached to a building on the N. side of 110th Street, with one or more elevators.   It was higher than any structure remaining the subway system except use of the Manhattan and Williamsburg Bridges.

 

Hump Stations, as we called them, with the center track elevated above the local tracks, the center track having both uptown and downtown platforms over the respective local tracks with stairways to the local platforms, on the 3rd Avenue El, were located at 9th, 23rd, 42nd, 106th, and 125th Streets.  At 129th Street, a small yard and terminal station were on the lower level, with the express track on the upper level without a station.   At 133rd, 138th, and 143rd Streets, there was a center platform on lower leverl between two local tracks and one on the upper level between two express tracks.   Express stations with two island platforms flanking a center express track, all on one level, were at Canal Street, Grand Street, Houston Street, 149th Street, Treemont Avenue, and Fordham Road.

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Posted by Tom Curtin on Monday, December 4, 2006 9:20 AM
That's incredibly interesting!!!   So there were three different configurations of express station platforms depending on where you were, huh?  My dad took mr for a ride on the Manhattan part of the el not long before service ended, but being just a little kid at the time I wasn't tuned into the structural details.
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Posted by tomikawaTT on Monday, December 4, 2006 6:40 PM

Another vote for a foray down memory lane.

My preschool home was about three blocks from the 163rd St. Station, and I was taken on several trips to South Ferry for the ride to Staten Island - a cheap day's outing which included all kinds of fascinating sights, not the least of which was the huge copper kettles of the old Ruppert Brewery, which was right next to the tracks.  (Even at age three, I had my priorities straightEvil [}:)].)

Later my family moved to the Pelham Bay area, and the Lexington Avenue Local became my "local" IRT ride.  I remember that, after seeing the spindly structure under the Third Avenue L, the Westchester Avenue steelwork looked indestructible.

While in high school, I took advantage of my subway pass to ride every line then part of the IRT, BMT and IND combined system, as well as prowl the seemingly endless underground corridors above the tracks.  It was possible, if one knew the route, to walk from Grand Central to Penn Station without exposing oneself to either weather or traffic.

Fifty years ago I departed New York City.  I haven't been back.

Chuck

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Posted by daveklepper on Tuesday, December 5, 2006 2:56 AM

I also remember the Rupert Brewery on the east side of the tracks somewhere along the line north of 42nd Street.

 

The configuration of the express stops depended on the amount of land or street space available.

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Posted by Eric Stuart on Tuesday, December 5, 2006 3:55 AM

Great forum on NY Subway/El.  It is difficult to get much info/photos of the system - especially the "good old days" of el operation (say pre-1960s) here in Europe.

Expresses, locals, 3/4/6 tracks, hump stations and so on - what an incrdible system!!!

What books - with good photos and operational info - can contributers recommend?  And any videos/DVDs of the pre 60s era?

Thanks.

 

Eric Stuart (ex-UK, now in France)

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Posted by Tom Curtin on Tuesday, December 5, 2006 9:28 AM
 tomikawaTT wrote:

 It was possible, if one knew the route, to walk from Grand Central to Penn Station without exposing oneself to either weather or traffic.

Chuck

I am tempted to read that as just a bit of an exaggeration --- are you talking about legally usable pedestrian passageways, or using some poetic license?

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Posted by Tom Curtin on Tuesday, December 5, 2006 9:35 AM
 Eric Stuart wrote:

What books - with good photos and operational info - can contributers recommend?  And any videos/DVDs of the pre 60s era?

Eric, there is -- or at least was a few years ago --- a VHS film for sale of the 3rd Avenue around the end of its operation in Manhattan.  I own it.  If I can find mine I will give you the details.

There are various photo books of "old New York;" (I see them in Barnes & Noble)  whether or not there's one that concentrates on the elevated railways of Manhattan I do not know.    Probably somebody on this forum does know.

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Posted by tomikawaTT on Tuesday, December 5, 2006 10:45 AM
 Tom Curtin wrote:
 tomikawaTT wrote:

 It was possible, if one knew the route, to walk from Grand Central to Penn Station without exposing oneself to either weather or traffic.

Chuck

I am tempted to read that as just a bit of an exaggeration --- are you talking about legally usable pedestrian passageways, or using some poetic license?

Legally useable, but inside the fare-paying cubic.  There were (and may still be) mezannine levels above the 6th Ave IND line (don't know what it's called today) and the 42nd Street shuttle.  I seem to recall having to do a multi-turn dance around BMT access somewhere around Times Square.

Some of those passageways were rather dim and dingy, and little used.  If they're still there, they would be magnets for the homeless.

Chuck

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Posted by daveklepper on Tuesday, December 5, 2006 3:15 PM

You are only partly correct by saying underground from Grand Central to Penn.   There was a small

gap between Madison Avenue and Grand Central, with its nearest entrance at 42nd and Vanderbilt.  There was and probably still is a Madison Avenue entrance/exit for the Fifth Avenue station of the No. 7 Flushing - Times Square Line.  This station has a passegeway from the west end, west of 5th Avenue to the Sixth Avenue (Avenue of Americas) 42nd Street Station, and the Sixth Avenue subway was built with a continuous mezzanine from the 42nd Street Station down to and throught the 34th Street Sation's 32nd Street entrance/exit and the 3-track terminal and concourse for PATH (subway to New Jersey, the old Hudson Tubes).  The 34th Street Station also has a level for the 4-track BMT Broadway subway.   And a Pedestrian Passegeway under 33rd Street to Penn Station and the 7th Avenue and 8th Avenue subways.

 

I was asked on the private Forum about the differences between strictly elevated structures and the remaining subway lines on structures.   Here is a comparison table

 Privately Built Elevated Lines:       open-web trusses under running rails and transverse, pillars under center of local track usually in roadway, separate access to platforms for each direction with separate fare collection

"City Built Subways on Viaduct"  High I-beam girders both under running rails and transverse, pillars at edge of structure, usually on sidewalks just inside the curve line, mezzanin under the tracks and under the platforms, with stairs up to the platforms, and one fare collection point for both directions.h

 

This is general and there were exceptions 

The old style of elevated construction can still be seen on East Fulton Street between East New York - Eastern Parkway - Broadway Junction and Cypress Street on the "J" line, and parts of the structure south of Atlantic Avenue on the Canarsie "L" line.    The Manhattenville Viaduct north and south of the 125th Street and Broadway station on the "1" line was built in 1904 as part of the original subway line and is unusual and quite high, with pillars in the roadway, but with high I-beam girders.  The structure for the "7" Flushing line, only the portion on Queens Buolevard east of Queensboro Plaza is a concrete ornamental viaduct, and the elevated portion of the "F" line between Bergan Street and 7th Avenue is a massive four-track (and at one point 5-track) concrete structure.

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Posted by tomikawaTT on Wednesday, December 6, 2006 10:59 PM

There was no gap in the mezzanine between the Lexington Avenue station and Madison Avenue "back when."  Of course, there has been a LOT of construction and modification since.

The one thing that sticks the hardest in my memory about the elevated structure from Pelham Bay to the beginning of underground trackage was the way the curves were superelevated.  There were separate wedges, about six inches wide and a foot long, under the outside rail on EVERY tie.  The ties were level, as was the top of the steelwork that supported them.  Don't know if the same trick was used on the Third Avenue structure.  It certainly had enough curves in the South Bronx!

Chuck (once, but not future, New Yorker)

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Posted by Tom Curtin on Thursday, December 7, 2006 10:27 AM
Weren't at least some of the old open-truss el structures rebuilt at some point in their history with girder construction (the kind you describe as the "city built" type of construction)?
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Posted by Anonymous on Sunday, December 10, 2006 12:32 PM

This has been a most interesting thread!  I am slightly familiar with Chicago's EL and subway system and it doesn't hold a candle to what has been described here.  There was only ONE multilevel El station is Chicago, the result of two companies at odds with each other.

Ah the good old Classic Train days!

Art

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Posted by daveklepper on Monday, December 11, 2006 4:33 AM

Yes, the Broadway Brooklyn ("J") elevated structure was originally open-web and was replaced with the "City-Built" type structure.  Also part of the Fulton Street elevated that was torn down after Unification in 1940 because the "A" subway line already provided service below.  Interestingly, there is one "City Built" structure that is open-web, can be seen today, south of Kings Highway on the old Culver Line, now the "F".  It was discovered that some of the steelwork removed from Fulton Street was far better than expected and could be reused.

 

Some of today's elevated structures in Brooklyn are over streets where the elevated trains actually ran on the street on tracks that later were used by only by streetcars and occasional freight trains.  Macdonald Avenue, formerly Gravesend Avenue, of the "F" line  is one example.   Quite a history, originally a steam railroad connecting with a horsecar line to downtown Brooklyn and with Ferries to Manhattan at a dock at 39th Street.   Through steam operation with the Long Island for summer Coney Island and to an on-line race track.   This continued even after the line was electrified with trolley wire and both streetcars and elevated trains off a ramp from the 5th Avenue Elevated at 37th Street from the Brooklyn Bridge.   Trains taken off the street and put on the elevated structure 1918-1920 in stages.  Then steel car operation through to Manhattan via the 4th Avenue subway with elevated service via 5th Avenue contninuing until unification in 1940.  Then around 1957? the massive rerouting away from 4th Avenue subway and via the Church Avenue line of the Independent subway, first the "D" and now for many years the "F".

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