|Time Traveling on the 3rd Ave El||
The Steam Era - 1878 to 1901
The 99th St Station and Steam Service Facility
Long viewed as a nuisance, the use of steam locomotives on the elevated railways did more to promote the idea of the elevated railways as necessary evils rather than a welcome public conveyance. Many proposals for non-steam methods of propulsion were advocated and experimented with Compressed Air #400 was one of those attempts. Had the cable method been more practical on the original West Side Patent Rwy, the Steam Era on the El may have had a much shorter life span. However, cable propulsion would never have been able to handle the volume of traffic the Els. It was not until the turn of the century that the nuisance of the steam locomotives became history with the result of electrification tests.
On Oct 26, 1886, two elevated cars that were electrified by Frank J. Sprague (ERA member #1), including heating and lighting. Starting and stopping were tested on the 34th Street Branch. It was the first time a station platform was electrically lighted as well as the first application of dynamic braking. The car picked up 600-volt power from a center third rail. The power plant for this operation was located in a storage warehouse at East 34th Street and the East River.
September 1887 - Stephen D. Field conducted another test of an electric motor locomotive on the 34th St Branch by, pulling an electrified passenger car. This motor unit was built at Yonkers, brought over Hudson RR to High Bridge, thence over the New York & Northern Railroad, to 155th Street. It then was hauled over the 6th Avenue to South Ferry and then up the 3rd Ave line to the 34th St Branch.
On Oct 5, 1896, experimental electric operations commenced on the 34th Street branch with a steeple cab engine pulling two passenger cars. This was the first application of an outside third rail and the use of batteries. The locomotive weighed 10 tons, was 18 feet long and 8 feet high in the center and had a 256-cell storage battery for use in case of a power failure.The experiments were conducted under the guidance of Mr. J B Entz of the Electric Storage Battery Company. Power was supplied this test from a building at 1st Ave and 34th St. Normal 0
On May 1, 1901, General Electric was contracted to electrify the elevated rolling stock and structures. Westinghouse was contracted to build the powerhouse and generating facilities at 74th St and the East River. This was the largest electrification project of its size and the final cost was about $18,000,000,
Construction of the Mosholu Pkwy structure in the Bronx c.1918
On Nov 1, 1877, construction of the 3rd Avenue Elevated began at South Ferry and at Chatham Square
In June of 1878, construction of the City Hall Spur began. The spur traversed Park Row from Chatham Square south to the new station at City Hall Park and the Brooklyn Bridge. Although the spur and station would be called City Hall, the business that eminated from the traffic that crossed the Brooklyn Bridge to Manhattan was enormous.
On Aug 26, 1878, the 3rd Ave El began service from South Ferry to Grand Central Depot on 42nd Street.There were several variations of the junction at 42nd St structure, including a junction from the north into the spur. However, only the s/b connecting track at the V-shaped junction platform remained during the existence of the GCT Spur (until 1924). The GCT El terminal station was a three track 2 island platform structure. Whatever plans, if any, that may have existed to link the Elevated structure to the New York Central Railroad Terminal tracks are lost in history. There was a elevated train platform attached to the original GCT building until the new GCT was built in 1905.
On Sept 16, 1878, stations were opened at 47th, 53rd, 59th, and 67th Streets.
On Dec 9, 1878, stations were opened at 76th, 84th, and 89th Streets.
On Dec 9, 1878, the 99th St Yard facility was opened.
On Dec 30, 1878, stations were opened at 99th, 106th, 116th, l25th and the 129th St two-track stub terminal.
On March 17, 1879, the City Hall station on the Park Row Spur opened.
On April 15, 1879, all night service was inaugurated.
On July 1, 1880, the 34th Street branch opened from a connection with the n/b mainline track, to the Long Island RR East River Ferry Terminal, with an intermediate station at Second Ave. The line was serviced by a shuttle trains. There may have been some special train movements from the 34th St branch on to the mainline or to the Grand Central Terminal spur.
On Sept 25, 1896, through rush hour service was instituted from South Ferry to Bronx Park and from City Hall to Tremont Ave (177th Street).
On Aug 15, 1898, platform and structure changes were made at 129th Street to enable through service from South Ferry to Bronx Park and from City Hall to Tremont Ave. The 3rd Ave structure was linked to the 2nd Ave structure and yards at 129th St.
On Mar 24, 1902, electric operation commenced on the 3rd Ave El.
Normal 0 On Aug 15, 1902, the last steam engine operated on the 3rd Ave El.
On Nov 26, 1904, El train service began on the Westchester Ave elevated extension of the IRT Lenox Ave subway to Bronx Park at East 180th St from a connection to the Westchester Ave line at l50th St. The IRT Subway Harlem River tunnel connection with the Westchester Ave elevated extension was not completed as yet.
On July 10, 1905, Elevated service on the IRT subway Westchester Ave Structure was discontinued after IRT Subway service was inaugurated to Bronx Park. The 150th St connector remained unused until the 2nd Ave El Freeman St Express was inaugurated in 1907.
On July 13, 1905, pape transfers between the El and the IRT subway station at 149th St began.
On July 1, 1917, the Bergen Avenue-West Farms Cut-off structure opened. This connection eliminated delays at the149th St Station by routing 2nd Ave El trains on the newly double-decked Suburban Line structure north of the Harlem River Bridge to the Bergen Cut-off at 144th St and on to the Westchester Ave Line. The cut-off route followed the original franchise route of the Suburban line from 143rd Street to Willis Ave and Bergen Ave to the Westchester Ave Subway, where it double decked over the subway portal ROW, and then joined the existing 150th St connector on the upper level of the flying junction. Second Ave El trains used the cut-off during rush hour operations only. The 150th St connector was used only in emergency with only a single n/b track connection from the 3rd Ave El. This elevated connection was part of the overall plan to connect and unify the IRT Subway and Elevated operations. The 9th Ave El / Jerome Ave Line connection was other connection of the Manhattan Els.
On July 9, 1917, through-express service was inaugurated from the City Hall Terminal to Tremont Ave / 177th St Station in the Bronx.
On Oct 4, 1920, the last of the Manhattan El extensions was opened on the Webster Ave in the Bronx with stations at 200th, 204th and 210th (Williamsbridge) Streets and the lower level of the Gun Hill Road station of the IRT White Plains Road line.
El rush hour express service went to 238th St and a shuttle train ran at other times between Fordham Road and 219th St.
On Dec 13, 1920, El rush hour service went to 241st St.
In January 1923, the first turnstiles were installed at the 106th St station of the 3rd Ave line replacing the ticket collectors.
On June 1, 1927, a direct passageway was opened between the El and the IRT subway stations at 149th St and 3rd Ave in the Bronx. This passageway eliminated the heavy crowds crossing at that busy intersection and the paper transfer issuance was discontinued. Later, one of the long escalators from the subway platform level to the El platform level was installed.
On July 14, 1930, the 34th St branch closed after the Long Island RR discontinued the 34th St Ferry.
On July 15, 1931, demolition the 34th St branch began and was completed on Sept 5, 1931.
On Nov 5, 1946, 3rd Ave El Freeman St Express was discontinued. The Bergen / Willis Ave connecting structure remained unused for a few more years and was removed along with the 150th St structure in 1950.
On July 1, 1947, fares of the New York City Transit System were raised to 10 cents and a 2¢ transfer between TARS trolleys and buses and the El was established in the Bronx.
This arrangement was discontinued on June 30, 1952.
On Dec 23, 1950, El service was discontinued from Chatham Square to South Ferry and from Gun Hill Road to 241st St. A paper transfer issuance was begun between the City-owned bus line and the El at Chatham Square and between the El and the IRT and BMT subway stations at City Hall.
On Nov 14, 1951, service to the Bronx Park / Botanical Gardens Terminal ended, and the structure was removed.
The 179th St yard structure was removed about this time also.
On March 14, 1952, weekend and night service after 7 PM in Manhattan was discontinued below 149th St.
On June 15, 1953, operations of the NYC Transit System were leased by the newly created NYC Transit Authority for 10 years.
On July 25, 1953, fares were raised to 15¢, using tokens.
On Dec 31, 1953, the City Hall branch was closed and the structure was removed.
On Sept 24, 1954, the 149th St station express track was removed in preparation for terminal operations at the station. Express trains were routed between upper and lower levels at 145th St using the ramp.
On May 12, 1955, Elevated Train service on Manhattan Island ended.
The last 3rd Ave El train left Chatham Square at 6:04 PM.
Looking North to the Hanover Square Station on Pear St from a N/B train as we pass a S/B train.