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A Brief History of Standard Manhattan Elevated Cars

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A Brief History of Standard Manhattan Elevated Cars, by George Chiasson, Jr.

When Charles Harvey's West Side & Yonkers Patent Elevated Railway began service in 1870, three simple wooden coaches were used, being drawn by cable power. As the route grew in stature in succeeding years, more stylish equipment developed, first under the New York Elevated Railroad and Metropolitan Elevated companies, then under the Manhattan Railway. In the early 1870's the NYERR had several specially designed "shadbelly" steam coaches built for service with its steam "dummies", having an extremely low center of gravity to allay fears of trains falling off the structure. As originally built, these cars were equipped with the most exquisite of appointments, having oil-burning chandeliers, comfortable chairs and carpeting, and large windows to provide a panoramic view of Manhattan life below. By 1876, as the budding Sixth and Ninth Ave. elevateds became more a practical means of transportation than a source of fascination, more practical car design followed, and the standard elevated car evolved.

The finished product resembled very much a miniature railroad coach, with utilitarian yet fashionable interior and exterior appointments including imitation gothic body appearance, elegant oil-burning lamps and wicker seating. In turn, this design became widely ordered not only for the Manhattan Elevateds, but also for systems built later in Brooklyn and Chicago. The first electrified version appeared on the Metropolitan West Side Elevated of Chicago in 1894, being followed by an even further-refined car built for the Northwestern Elevated of Chicago in 1898. Multiple-Unit Control, a concept developed by Frank J. Sprague, was first used successfully on the South Side Elevated beginning in 1898, and a year later was also applied in the cars for Boston's new subway-elevated route. Testing with Multiple-Unit Control was begun by the Manhattan Rwy. Co. (by this time already preparing for takeover by the IRT) in 1901, and by 1903 the Manhattan Elevated system had been so electrified. All steam coaches deemed suitable for the purpose were electrified utilizing the Multiple-Unit Control system, and all subsequent orders (through 1911) built to similar specifications. The standard elevated car was a familiar sight on the Manhattan Elevated for most of its 85-year existence, with as many as 1600 in existence during the IRT era. Their death began in 1938 with the closing of the Sixth Ave. line, and was continued over a period of several years, as more mileage was abandoned in 1940, and their scrap value increased during World War II. Most of the oldest cars, including those originally built for the Metropolitan Elevated's Sixth Ave. opening in 1878, were removed after the abandonment of Second Ave.-Queens service in June, 1942. The final "Gate Cars" were in operation on the Third Ave. Express until December, 1950.

Contents

Manhattan El Chronological Roster, Passenger Coaches

Numbers Type Builder Year
I. WEST SIDE & YONKERS ELEVATED RAILWAY
1-3? Closed Cable Cars Stephenson & Sons-NY 1870

3 cars for cable operation of West Side & Yonkers Patent Elevated Railway, used 2/14/1870 thru 4/20/1871, then used as coaches behind WS&Y steam "dummies". Replaced by newer coaches 1876 or 1877 and disposed of. Possibly numbered 1-3 before retirement.

II. NEW YORK ELEVATED RAILROAD
1-4 NYERR Shadbelly coaches Jackson & Sharp 1872
5-7 NYERR Shadbelly coaches Jackson & Sharp 1873
8-10 NYERR Shadbelly coaches Jackson & Sharp 1874
11-16 NYERR Shadbelly coaches Cummings 1875

Shadbelly cars were procured by the New York Elevated Railroad for early Ninth Ave. el service. All were steam coaches, and were replaced by more conventional coaches which arrived in 1876-77.

40, 41 Experimental ctr doors Jackson & Sharp 1877

Experimental body configuration with center doors and no end platforms. Returned to builder in 1878.

17-39 NYERR Steam Coaches Gilbert & Bush 1876-77
40-80 NYERR Steam Coaches Gilbert & Bush 1878
81-177 NYERR Steam coaches Wason 1878
178-208 NYERR Steam coaches Gilbert & Bush 1878
209-242 NYERR Steam coaches Wason 1878
243-292 NYERR Steam coaches Gilbert & Bush 1879

Used on all lines by NYERR (9th and 3rd Aves.). Inherited by Manhattan Railway Co. in 1879.

III. METROPOLITAN ELEVATED RAILWAY
1-20 Met. El. Rwy. Coaches Barney & Smith 1878
21-80 Met. El. Rwy. Coaches Pullman 1878

Used on early 6th Avenue service. Inherited by Manhattan Railway Co. in 1879 and renumbered 501-520, 521-580.

81-175 Met. El. Rwy. Coaches Pullman 1879

Orderd by Metropolitan Elevated Railway, delivered and put in service by Manhattan Railway Co. as coaches 581-675 in 1879.

IV. MANHATTAN RAILWAY CO. 1879-1886
17-39 ex-NYERR Steam coaches Gilbert & Bush 1876

Used on all lines, replaced by newer coaches ca. 1884-85.

1-39 MRy Co. Steam coaches Pullman 1885
40-80 Ex-NYERR Steam coaches Gilbert & Bush 1878
81-177 Ex-NYERR Steam coaches Wason 1878
178-208 Ex-NYERR Steam coaches Gilbert & Bush 1878
209-242 Ex-NYERR Steam coaches Wason 1878
243-292 Ex-NYERR Steam coaches Gilbert & Bush 1879
293-364 MRy Co. Steam'coaches Bowers & Dure 1882
501-520 ex-Met Steam coaches Barney & Smith 1878
521-580 ex-Met Steam coaches Pullman 1878
581-675 ex-Met Steam coaches Pullman 1879
676-776 MRy Co. Steam coaches Pullman 1880
777-825 MRy Co. Steam coaches Pullman 1881

All of the above were used on the Second, Third, Sixth and Ninth Ave. elevateds from 1879, when the Manhattan Railway took over the Metropolitan and the NYERR, through 1886.

V. SUBURBAN RAPID TRANSIT
1-4 SRT Steam Coaches Pullman 1886
5-26 SRT Steam Coaches Gilbert & Bush 1887

These coaches were used in early Third Ave.-Bronx service from 1886 to 1891, when they were acquired by Manhattan Rwy. along with the Suburban Rapid Transit property, and renumbered 1095-1098 and 1099-1120.

VI. MANHATTAN RAILWAY COMPANY, 1886-1903
40-80 Ex-NYERR Steam coaches Gilbert & Bush 1878
81-177 Ex-NYERR Steam coaches Wason 1878
178-208 Ex-NYERR Steam coaches Gilbert & Bush 1878
209-242 Ex-NYERR Steam coaches Wason 1878

These were found to be unsuitable for electric service, and were replaced by new cars in 1902-03.

243-292 ex-NYERR Coaches Gilbert & Bush 1879
293-364 MRy Steam Coaches Bowers & Dure 1882
365-369 MRy Steam Coaches (Numbered in NYERR sequence) Pullman 1889
370-393 MRy Steam Coaches (Numbered in NYERR sequence) Gilbert & Bush 1886
394-500 MRy Steam Coaches (Numbered in NYERR sequence) Gilbert & Bush 1887
501-520 ex-Met Steam Coaches Barney & Smith 1878
521-580 ex-Met Steam Coaches Pullman 1878
581-675 ex-Met Steam Coaches Pullman 1879
676-699 MRy Steam Coaches Pullman 1880
700-728 MRy Steam Coaches Pullman 1880
729-776 MRy Steam Coaches Pullman 1880
777-790 MRy Steam Coaches Pullman 1881
791-825 MRy Steam Coaches Pullman 1881
826-919 MRy Steam Coaches (Numbered in MRy sequence) Gilbert & Bush 1887
920-964 MRy Steam Coaches (Numbered in MRy sequence) Wason 1890
965-1019 MRy Steam Coaches Wason 1891

The above groups were used in Second, Third, Sixth and Ninth Ave. elevated service from 1886 to 1901, at which time they were equipped for electric service.

1095-1098 ex-SRT Steam Coaches Pullman 1886
1099-1120 ex-SRT Steam Coaches Gilbert & Bush 1887

The above groups were obtained with the Suburban Rapid Transit property by the Manhattan Rwy. in 1891, and then used on all lines through their electrification in 1901-03.

1020-1094 MRy Steam Coaches. Wason 1893

The above cars were the last steam coaches obtained by the Manhattan Rwy. Co., being used on all routes (Second, Third, Sixth and Ninth Aves.) through their electrification in 1901-03.

40, 41 MRy Motor Wason 1902
42-91 MRy Motor ACF 1901-02
92-241 MRy Motor Wason 1902-03

(Above groups in NYERR sequence). The above were closed, open-vestibule motor cars (built as electric cars), used with former steam coaches converted to electric coaches (listed below), to inaugurate electric service, beginning with the Second Ave. line in December, 1901. Beginning in 1902, they began being trained with former steam coaches converted to electric motor cars.

1219 MRy Open Trailer ACF 1902
1220-1244 MRy Open Trailers Jewett 1902
1245-1254 MRy Open Trailers ACF 1902

The above were dubbed "Open-Air Cars", being similar in function to the open streetcars of the era. They were hauled behind regular open-vestibule motors, used in Summer only, and advertised as a ride on "The Open Air Line".

IRT Elevated Division Roster, 1903-1956

Numbers Type Builder Year
I. GATE CARS
1-39 ex-MRy Trailers Pullman 1885
40, 41 ex-MRy Motors Wason 1902
42-91 ex-MRy Motors ACF 1901-02
92-241 ex-MRy Motors Wason 1902-03
243-292 ex-NYERR Trailers Gilbert & Bush 1879
293-364 ex-MRy Trailers Bowers & Dure 1882
365-369 ex-MRy Trailers Pullman 1889
370-393 ex-MRy Motors Gilbert & Bush 1886
394-500 ex-MRy Motors Gilbert & Bush 1887
501-520 ex-Met Trailers Barney & Smith 1878
521-580 ex-Met Trailers Pullman 1878
581-675 ex-Met Trailers Pullman 1879
676-699 ex-MRy Trailers Pullman 1880
700-728 ex-MRy Motors Pullman 1880
729-776 ex-MRy Trailers Pullman 1880
777-790 ex-MRy Trailers Pullman 1881
791-825 ex-MRy Motors Pullman 1881
826-919 ex-MRy Motors Gilbert & Bush 1887
920-964 ex-MRy Motors Wason 1890
965-1019 ex-MRy Motors Wason 1891
1020-1094 ex-MRy Motors Wason 1893
1095-1098 ex-SRT Motors Pullman 1886
1099-1120 ex-SRT Motors Gilbert & Bush 1887

Phase-out of IRT Gate Cars in general began in 1938 with the abandonment of the 6th Ave. Elevated. Most of the converted steam trailers were removed from service after the abandonment of 2nd Ave.-Queens service in June, 1942. Former steam coaches converted to motor cars were still in service until 1950.

1219 MRy Open Trailer ACF 1902
1220-1244 MRy Open Trailers Jewett 1902
1245-1254 MRy Open Trailers ACF 1902

The Open-air Trailers were hauled behind open-vestible motor cars each summer through 1918, after which they were withdrawn and scrapped.

1121-1218 IRT Trailers ACF 1903
1255-1314 IRT Motors Wason 1903
1315-1364 IRT Trailers Wason 1904
1365-1414 IRT Trailers St. Louis 1904
1415-1528 IRT Trailers St. Louis 1907-08
1529-1612 IRT Motors Wason 1907-08
1613-1652 IRT Motors Barney & Smith 1910
1653-1672 IRT Motors Jewett 1910
1673-1692 IRT Trailers Wason 1909
1693-1712 IRT Trailers St. Louis 1911
1713-1752 IRT Trailers Wason 1911
1753-1792 IRT Motors Jewett 1911
1793-1812 IRT Motors 1911

The IRT Gate Cars, ex-NYERR, ex-Metropolitan and ex-Manhattan Rwy. Gate Cars were intermixed in trains on the Second, Third, Sixth and Ninth Ave. lines from 1903 through 1923. In that year, the IRT began re-fitting 470 Gate Cars as "M.U.D.C." units. Remaining Gate Cars were operated, usually in rush hours, through December, 1950, when they were removed from the Third Ave. Thru-Express route, but for 21 cars used on the Dyre Ave. Shuttle route of the Subway Division until 1954.

II. COMPOSITE CARS
2000-2059 Comp. Lo-V Motors Jewett 1903
2060-2119 Comp. Lo-V Motors St. Louis 1903
2120-2159 Comp. Lo-V Motors Wason 1903
3000-3039 Comp. Lo-V Motors Jewett 1903
3040-3139 Comp. Lo-V Motors Stephenson 1903-04
3140-3279 Comp. Lo-V Motors St. Louis 1903-04
3280-3339 Comp. Lo-V Motors Wason 1903-04

Originally built for the Subway Division as Hi-V Motors and Trailers, these wood-steel cars were rebuilt in entirety as Low-Voltage motors (incompatible with the IRT's Gate Cars), and transferred to the Elevated Division beginning in 1915. They entered service on rush hour center-track express routes in January, 1916, and remained in this role until their retirement in April, 1950. Due to their weight, these cars had to return light on the local tracks after completing express runs or when pulling out for service. The cars' original trucks were replaced with new ones of a design common to the Manhattan El, and were then used under new steel subway cars.

III. MUDC CARS
a. Hi-V Cars Hi-V Trailers: 11 (St. Louis, 1907-08); 1121-1129, 1131-1143, 1145-1184, 1186-1190, 1192, 1194-1200, 1202-1218 (ACF, 1903); 1415-1446, 1448-1458, 1460-1514, 1516-1528 (St. Louis, 1907-08); 1673-1685, 1687-1705, 1713-1723 (Wason, 1909) [247 Cars] Hi-V Motors: 161, 162, 172, 189, 191, 194, 211, 212, 216, 218, 220, 222-225, 227, 229-234 (Wason, 1902-03); 1255-1257, 1259-1291, 1293-1306, 1308-1314 (Wason, 1903); 1654-1659 (Jewett, 1910); 1762, 1810 (Cincinnati, 1911) [117 Cars]
b. Lo-V Cars Lo-V Trailers: 1706-1711 (St. Louis, 1911); 1724-1752 (Wason, 1911) [35 Cars] Lo-V Motors: 1660-1672 (Jewett, 1910); 1753-1761, 1763-1809, 1811, 1812 (Cincinnati, 1911) [71 Cars]

In 1923 and 1924, the IRT retro-fitted the above 470 cars with enclosed vestibules and air doors. As such, only one conductor was required to operate a train instead of one conductor for each pair as the Gate Cars required. The savings in labor to the IRT were obvious. The cars first appeared in 1923, becoming regulars on the 2nd and 6th Ave. Locals, and by the time all entered service in 1924, they were assigned to various express routes and to Queens service. Retirements of the Hi-V MUDC cars began in December, 1950, and were completed in 1955 with the abandonment of 3rd Ave. service to Manhattan. The Lo-V MUDC's plied on what remained of the line in The Bronx until January of 1957, when they were withdrawn and scrapped.

IV. Q-CARS
1600ABC-1629ABC Q-cars(Mot/Tr/Mot) BMT 1938-39

Built from older BMT Gate Cars for service via the Flushing line to the 1939 World's Fair, the "Q" (for Queens) cars arrived on the Third Ave. line in April, 1950, after the cessation of joint IRT/BMT service on the Flushing and Astoria lines in 1949 had made them surplus. The cars were placed on trucks taken from scrapped Composites, which then made them too tall for some Third Ave. line clearances. As a result, the cars' roofs then had to be "shaved" by about four inches. Until the discontinuance of Third Ave. service from Chatham Square to 149 St. in May, 1955, the Q's were used only on center track expresses, returning "light" to their point of origin, because of excess weight. The cars continued in service on the truncated Third Ave. Local, from 149 St. to Gun Hill Rd., until replaced, along with the MUDC's, in January, 1957. Two years later, they were to reappear on their native BMT.

Third Ave. Line Equipment, 1956-1965

Numbers Type Builder Year
I. LO-V CARS
4700-4770 Steinway Lo-V Motors Pullman 1916
5628-5652 Steinway Lo-V Motors ACF 1925

Several cars from these two groups of Lo-V's were transferred from the 7th AVE-BRONX EXPRESS, LEXINGTON-JEROME EXPRESS and LEXINGTON-WHITE PLAINS RD. EXPRESS routes to the THIRD AVE. LOCAL, beginning service on December 15, 1956. By the end of January, 1957 they had completely replaced the MUDC and Q-car trains on the route since May, 1955. It is possible that the Lo-V's replaced the older equipment more or less immaliately, but information is lacking.

4025-4036 Lo-V Steinway Motors Pullman 1915
4215-4222 Lo-V Steinway Motors IRT 1929*
4555-4576 Lo-V Steinway Motors IRT 1929#
4811-4965 Lo-V Trailers Pullman 1916-17
5303-5377 Lo-V Compressor Trlrs Pullman 1922
5378-5402 Lo-V Trailers Pullman 1922

*-Cars 4215-4222 rebuilt from Hi-V Trailers by IRT in 1929.
#-Cars 4555-4576 rebuilt from Lo-V Trailers by IRT in 1929.

By 1961, cars from the above groups had joined cars of the two series used on the THIRD AVE. LOCAL since December, 1956, being used at random from the 7th AVE-BRONX EXPRESS route.

5653-5702 World's Fair Steinway Lo-V Mtr St. Louis 1938

These cars, usually in complete train sets (5 cars) began service on the THIRD AVE. LOCAL on February 4, 1962, being transferred in from the 7th AVE-BRONX EXPRESS and the 42 ST. SHUTTLE. Various mixed Steinway Lo-V's continued to operate on the Third Ave. line. By October, 1963, cars of series 4025-4036, 4215-4222 and 4555-4576 were no longer used on the THIRD AVE. LOCAL, all service being provided by Steinway Lo-V's of 4700-4770 and 5628-5652 series, Lo-V Trailers of series 4811-4965, 5303-5377 and 5378-5402 and World's Fair Steinways 5653-5702. On December 23, 1963, all Steinway Lo-V's remaining in service were assigned to THIRD AVE. LOCAL service, and as of February 21, 1964 all remaining Lo-V's were removed from 7th AVE-BRONX and 7th AVE-LENOX EXPRESS service.

4966-4999,5300-5302 Lo-V Motors Pullman 1917

As of July, 1964 some of these conventional Lo-V Motors had begun THIRD AVE. LOCAL service. As a result, all remaining Trailers from the 4811-4899 group, and most cars from the 5378-5402 series were retired. In addition, all remaining 4700-4770 series cars were withdrawn.

Third Avenue El Equipment, 1965-1973

As of May 31, 1965 the following cars were assigned to the THIRD AVE. LOCAL: Lo-V Trailers: 4902, 4913, 4934, 4942, 4946, 4950 (Pullman, 1916-17); 5303, 5312, 5323, 5330, 5335, 5337, 5340, 5353, 5354, 5356 (with Compressors, Pullman, 1922); 5390 (Pullman, 1922) Steinway Lo-V Motors: 5628, 5631, 5633, 5636, 5638, 5641, 5647, 5649, 5650, 5651 (ACF, 1925) World's Fair Steinway Lo-V Motors: 5653-5659, 5661-5688, 5690-5702 (St. Louis, 1938)

For the most part, these cars remained in THIRD AVE. LOCAL service until replaced by R-12's, beginning in August, 1969 and ending in early November, 1969.

5753-5802 GE R-12 ACF 1948
5803-5806 GE R-14 ACF 1949

Cars 5753-5802 began THIRD AVE. LOCAL service on August 30, 1969 following their transfer in off the #2, #4 and #5 lines and assumed all Third Ave. line runs as of November 3, 1969. As of April 29, 1971 GE R-14's 5803-5806 were also transferred from the #2, #4 and #5 lines to the THIRD AVE. LOCAL (#8) and all remained until final abandonment on April 29, 1973. The R-12's (5753-5802) were then put in Work Service or retired, while R-14's 5803-5806 were returned to the #2, #4 and #5 lines, where they remained until October, 1976.









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