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Opening of Seventh Avenue and Lexington Avenue Lines (1918)

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Public Service Record · Vol. IV, No. 6, June, 1917.

Service in Seventh Avenue.

By dint of extraordinary efforts put forth at the direction of the Commission's engineers a portion of the Seventh Avenue Subway, between Times Square and Thirty-fourth Street, was placed in partial service on Sunday, June 3, affording for the first time subway connection to the Pennsylvania Railroad Station, at 33d Street and Seventh Avenue.

A two-car shuttle service has been instituted which is reported by the Transit Bureau to be carrying about 3,000 passengers per day. Provision has been made for the installing of an additional train, in the event that traffic needs warrant, in advance of the opening of the whole line. At the present time only the northern end of one of the platforms is available at the Pennsylvania subway station, but within a few weeks it is expected that it will be possible to place the underground passageway between the subway station and the railroad station in use, making it unnecessary for passengers to walk one block as now from the subway station to the railroad station.

Public Service Record · Vol. V, No. 7, July 1918.

Opening of Seventh Avenue and Lexington Avenue Lines.

The month of July 1918 will long be famous in the annals of rapid transit as the period which witnessed the beginning of operation on some of the most important lines of the Dual System of Rapid Transit. As has been stated in the Record before, it has been the plan of the Commission, long established, to place each line or part of line in service at the earliest possible date. In keeping with this plan on July 1, operation of the Seventh Avenue Subway, previously in use from Times Square to Pennsylvania station, was extended to the Battery and as far as Wall and William Streets on the Clark Street tunnel branch, and the Lexington Avenue Subway was opened for the main portion of the trunk line from Grand Central (Diagonal) Station to 149th Street, on July 17, while the Jerome Avenue branch had already been in service above 149th Street station for more than a year to Kingsbridge Road, and for several months from that point north to the terminal at Woodlawn.

Other New Facilities. On July 1. also by direction of the Commission, the Interborough's third tracks on the Ninth Avenue elevated line, from 125th Street to 155th Street, were put into service and the operation of the 162nd Street Extension advanced from the Sedgwick Avenue station to and over the Jerome Avenue branch as far as 167th Street Station. On July 3 the New York Consolidated Railroad Company, under permission granted by the Commission, opened the easterly half of its new Jamaica Avenue extension in Queens from Richmond Hill to Jamaica.

There were thus placed at the command of the traveling public, all within a few days, additional facilities representing an expenditure of nearly $100,000,000 for construction and equipment and an increment of nearly fifty track-miles to the mileage of the Dual System then in operation. The new lines now in use in Manhattan and The Bronx have doubled the previous mileage and, with the completion of the entire "H" system, will more than double existing facilities. The B. R. T.'s new Jamaica line gave real rapid transit for the first time to a populous and growing section of the Borough of Queens, previously served only by trolley and trunk railroad lines.

Seventh Avenue Line. Alfred Craven, the Commission's former chief engineer and now one of its consulting engineers, acted as motorman on the initial trip over the new Seventh Avenue line. Mayor Hylan was a guest on this occasion. The official train was reserved for members of the Commission, its officials and employees, representatives of the Interborough Rapid Transit Company, some City officials, and a few invited guests. This train was run over the line shortly after noon, and was followed by the beginning of service for the general public at 2 P. M.

Mr. Craven was selected as motorman by common consent. It was felt that the honor of piloting the first train properly belonged to him who had played so prominent a part in the planning and construction of the City's great municipal transit system, Mr. Craven was instructed in his temporary duties by James B. Elliott, a veteran Interborough motorman, and performed the task assigned him with much ability, the train making the round trip from Chambers Street and West Broadway without a hitch.

Mayor Interested. Mayor Hylan was much interested in the operation of the new line, referring to his own long experience in railroad operation. He stood on the front platform in the company of Chairman Oscar S. Straus for the greater part of the trip, deeply engrossed in various features of the construction and equipment of the road.

The train left Chambers Street at 12:20 P.M. bound north to Times Square, which point was reached twelve minutes later. After a brief halt to permit the members of the party to inspect the new Times Square station, the trip was resumed, passing Chambers Street at 12:55 and rounding the Battery loop into the north bound tracks at 12:58. Chambers Street was reached on the return at 1:01 P.M., and there the party left the train, Mayor Hylan and other officials halting to inspect the signal and switching facilities controlling the branches leading out from Chambers Street, one to the Battery and the other through Park Place, Beekman, and William Streets to the temporary terminal of the latter line at Wall Street. This last named branch was placed in use the same day, with a shuttle service from Chambers to Wall and William Streets.

Official Party. Representatives of the Commission at the opening of the Seventh Avenue line, besides Chairman Straus, were Commissioners Travis H. Whitney and Charles Bulkley Hubbell, the Commission's special committee on "H" lines operation; Secretary James B. Walker; Daniel L. Turner, Chief Engineer; Robert Ridgway, engineer of subway construction; John H. Myers of the Second Division; W. F. Stevenson of the Seventh Division; Robert H. Jacobs of the Track Division and C. M. Kendall of the Station Finish Division, together with many other engineers and officials. The Interborough Rapid Transit Company was represented by Vice Presidents Frank Hedley, D. W. Ross, and W. Leon Pepperman, as well as George Keegan, assistant to Mr. Hedley, George H. Pegram, Chief Engineer, and others from its executive, engineering, and operating departments.

No special exercises marked the beginning of service on the new elevated third tracks in Manhattan and of through service on the 162nd Street Connection nor on the Jamaica Avenue Extension.

The courtesy of acting as motorman of the first train over the Lexington Avenue subway on July 17 was extended to Mayor Hylan by Chairman Oscar S. Straus. Certain construction work remaining to be carried out on July 1 made it impossible to open the Lexington Avenue line to temporary service at the same time the Seventh Avenue subway was opened.

In Lexington Avenue. On the day scheduled the official party headed by Chairman Straus and Mayor Hylan, met in the mezzanine of the new Grand Central (Diagonal) Station and there boarded a train which was run over the local tracks. Amid cheers from those aboard and much tooting of whistles, the train began to move at 12:15 P.M. With only one stop, made to test the efficiency of the signal system, and without other incident the train sped on its way, passing the 125th Street station nine and one-half minutes after the starting signal had been given. The 167th Street station on the Jerome Avenue branch was reached seventeen and one-half minutes later. The return trip, which was begun immediately, was made in a few seconds less. Officials on the train expressed surprise at the smoothness with which the first trip was made. Two hours later the line opened to the public, which has since made use of it in constantly increasing numbers.

Among those on the official train were Chairman Straus; Commissioners Travis H. Whitney and Charles Bulkley Hubbell; Alfred Craven, former chief engineer and now consulting engineer to the Commission; Daniel L. Turner, chief engineer; James B. Walker, Secretary; Robert Ridgway, engineer of subway construction; Division Engineers John H. Myers and C. V. V. Powers, who were in charge of the construction of the Lexington Avenue line; R. H. Jacobs, of the Track Division; C. M. Kendall of the Station Finish Division and C. W. Wilder, electrical engineer.

In addition to the Mayor the City government was represented by Frank Dowling, President of the Borough of Manhattan, and Murray Hulbert, Dock Commissioner, while among Interborough officials participating were noted Vice-Presidents Frank Hedley, D. W. Ross and W. Leon Pepperman, George Keegan, assistant to Mr, Hedley, George H. Pegram, chief engineer and A. L. Merritt, superintendent of the subway.

The party also included George McAneny, President of the Board of Aldermen at the time of the signing of the Dual System contracts and William McCarroll, former Public Service Commissioner.

Character of Service. Pending the beginning of through "H" operation in the East Side and West Side subways, transfers are made to and from the Lexington Avenue line at the Grand Central Station, and between the old line and the Seventh Avenue subway at the Times Square Station. The change of cars last named is already a familiar one to thousands of passengers, who for the past year have made daily use of the Seventh Avenue line shuttle service to gain access to the Pennsylvania Railroad Station at 32nd Street.

Under the plan of temporary operation of the Seventh and Lexington Avenue line a limited service has been provided over the local tracks of both lines. At the same time the type of service in effect on the Jerome Avenue branch for the past year was changed with provision that subway operation should cease at 167th Street Station, while elevated trains, operating over the 162nd Street Connection to and from the Ninth and Sixth Avenue elevated lines, should supply the service to and from Kingsbridge Road, with a shuttle service to and from Woodlawn above that point. Provision was made for transfer between the elevated and subway trains at 167th Street Station.









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