The 9th Avenue Elevated-Polo Grounds Shuttle

From nycsubway.org

A postcard view of the so-called "Suicide Curve" at 110th Street.


It was agreed by City officials that an elevated line would solve the problems of serious congestion in Manhattan. In fact, the first proposal was as far back as 1825, by H. Sargeant. There were dozens of others over the decades that followed until Charles T. Harvey received his patent June 18, 1867, and actually saw his design built and operational. On April 20, 1866 the West Side and Yonkers Patent Railway Company was formed by Harvey and eventually got awarded the approval to begin construction of his elevated line up Greenwich Street, then Ninth Avenue from Battery Place to 30th Street.

Construction began July 1, 1867. The first column was erected October 7, and tested in December. The method of operation was a continuous chain or cable wound around a drum, the cable being attached to a passenger coach on the tracks above. The drum was driven by stationary steam engines placed beneath the sidewalk at certain intervals. This would propel the cars to the next engine and the next, thus moving the car along the tracks. The demonstration proved satisfactory to the delight of the stockholders and company officials. The company constructed three miles of track, although they had a mandate to construct twenty-five miles uptown. The Rapid Transit Commissioners inspected the structure and made a favorable report on July 1, 1868. The plan and operation were approved. Mayor John T. Hoffman, and a deputy inspected the line also. It also passed muster.

From 1868 through 1870, the line ran on a single track and was extended to 30th Street. The name changed to the West Side and Yonkers Patent Elevated Railway Company, the last station being at 29th Street. Almost immediately there were mechanical problems, not to mention financial and legal difficulties. This cable system proved impractical and was finally abandoned and remained idle for months. Creditors bought the line at a Sheriff's Auction on November 15, 1870 at a purchase price of only $960 (Nine Hundred and Sixty Dollars). The equipment included three complete passenger cars; four vaults where the machinery was located and patent rights. The new investors substituted the stationary engines for small steam locomotives.

There were objections from the Boss Tweed crowd, pushing for his viaduct scheme as well as injunctions introduced by the horse-car companies which, up until this time, had no competition. On February 9, 1871, the Transit Commissioners granted permission for the elevated railway company to proceed with their plan to discard all previous equipment and replace it with steam locomotives. Repairs were made to strengthen the existing structure and steam operation began on April 20, 1871. There were only two stations at this time, one at Dey Street, the other at the end of the line at 29th Street. The company adopted the name the New York Elevated Railroad Company. Thus commenced the world's first successful elevated railway. Steam power was to be used on all subsequent lines until the advent of electrical operation in 1902.

The New York Times, Saturday, July 4th, 1868

The New York Times, Saturday, July 4th, 1868. LOCAL INTELLIGENCE - The Elevated Railway

The trial trip upon the elevated road in Greenwich-street having been postponed on Thursday, on account of an accident to the machinery, came off yesterday at noon, and was very satisfactory. The car ran evenly from the Battery to Cortlandt-street, starting at a rate of five miles an hour, and increasing to a speed of ten miles. The Company does not pretend, with its present machinery, to run the cars faster than fifteen miles an hour; but during the next two months will make arrangements for much more rapid motion. On the 1st day of July, 1867, the work was commenced, $100,000 being then pledged for the purpose. Contracts were made, and the first column was placed in position on the 7th of October. The machinery was first tried on the 7th of December, on the first quarter mile. So well were the Directors pleased that they authorized the inventor to order the remainder to Cortlandt-street. This was erected in March and April, and some improvements introduced.

About the 1st day of May the new trial car was placed on the road, and the Directors took a ride at the rate of fifteen miles an hour, propelled by an engine out of sight and hearing. On the 6th of June last the railway was placed in charge of the Commissioners appointed by the Governor, Messrs. FITHIAN and MORRIS, and Ex-Senator FREER, (of Sulivan County,) appointed by the Croton Board, for its inspection.

During that month Gov. FENTON came from Albany and inspected it himself, by examining the machinery and taking a ride upon it; also the Croton Board, with the engineer; Mayor HOFFMAN, the Governor of Minnesota, a deputation from the Common Council of Boston, and many eminent engineers and civilians.

The opinion was expressed that it was a great mechanical success. On July 1st the Commissioners reported in its favor. The Governor gave it official approval promptly on the following day. This endorsement vests in the constructing company full powers to proceed with the railway at once from the Battery to Spuyten Duyvil.

The Chief Engineer and inventor expresses the opinion that there is no engineering difficulty in the way of having the railway completed to the Hudson River Depot at Thirtieth-street the present year. Then the passage from Wall-street can be made in fifteen minutes!

He is desirous of having the whole line under contract at once, that the time of its being thrown open to the public use may occur during the terms of the present incumbents of the office of Governor of the State and

Mayor of the City, who have recommended this project and assisted its development as a means of relief to the over-crowded thousands in this City. The inventor will proceed next week to take down the present machinery, and substitute some special improvements which he has perfected after testing the working of that already up.

Footnote to above article: The inventor's name was never mentioned. It was, of course, Charles T. Harvey. It may be noted that Harvey was never given the acclaim and appreciation for his achievement. He is the engineer who presented us with the city's very first elevated railroad, into which he invested much of his life and finances. His engineering skill and vision initiated the expansion of rapid transit of which the elevated railroads dominated for thirty-seven years. As quoted in William Fullerton Reeves', The First Elevated Railroads in Manhattan and the Bronx of the City of New York, (N.Y., 1936) "Nothing in the city's history has done more for its growth and advancement than that system of transit, and Charles T. Harvey was its originator and the man directly responsible for its achievement. There are monuments in New York City, but none to him. He gave us his utmost, in time, money, and brains, but has received no permanent recognition." Harvey died in 1913.

The New York Times, Tuesday, September 7th, 1869

This next entry is a rather detailed accounting of the Greenwich Street Road as recorded once again in the New York Times. The descriptions highlight the construction and method of operation.

The New York Times, Tuesday, September 7th, 1869 THE ELEVATED RAILWAY - Successful Trial Trips of the West Side Railroad in Greenwich-Street - The Line to be Completed by November - Description of the Means by Which the Cars are to be Driven - Names of the Stockholders and Officers of the Company

Trial-trips were made on the new West Side and Yonkers Patent Railway in Greenwich-street yesterday, in which several stockholders of the Company and other invited guests participated. The first section of the road, from the Battery to Cortlandt-street, is completed, and posts for receiving the rails are erected, and many of the rails are laid on the next section, from Cortlandt-street to Thirtieth-street. It is anticipated that the road will be in condition for the transportation of passengers from the Battery to Thirtieth-street by the first day of November next.

For the present route of travel will be over a single track; but it is intended, eventually, to construct another track on the west side of Greenwich-street and Ninth-avenue, and along the whole route to Yonkers, to be used, for cars returning to the starting point, while the present one will be confined solely to the carrying of passengers going north.

The experimental trips made gave ample satisfaction to all who passed over the route, and the opinion was universally expressed that, if the construction of the road over the remaining sections be as well done as on the first, the enterprise will prove to be a complete success. The riding was remarkably smooth and easy, and the speed satisfactory. The rate at which the car was yesterday operated was fifteen miles per hour. Twenty miles can be made, if required, just as easily.

It is not intended, however, that the rate of travel shall, ordinarily, exceed that of yesterday. The mode of propulsion is an "endless chain," so called, but really a wire rope, which passes over a drum at either end of the section, and runs thence between the rails over which the car moves; the motor being a steam engine underneath the sidewalk at the corner of Greenwich and Cortlandt streets. To this wire ropes are attached, at distances of 150 feet apart, small iron uprights, or projections, running on wheels on a narrow track provided expressly for the purpose, the rails of which are about sixteen inches apart. Pendant from the bottom of the car is an iron beam that may be thrown out or drawn inward by operating a brake at the end of the car, and when thrown out, is the material against which the upright presses itself, and thus forces the car onward. On reaching the end of any section these uprights follow the direction of the endless rope, and going over the curved line there, are reversed in position, and they then return to the large drum at the other end, where they are again, one by one, sent off on propelling duty as before. The car, meanwhile, passes over the space between the two sections (never more than the width between the opposite curbstones of a street, say twenty-five feet,) by force of the momentum it has gained, and at the next section meets one of the uprights attached to the rope traversing it and is thus propelled toward the terminus of that section. This proceeding is continued along the entire route. The engines necessary to operate this endless chain are to be located in Greenwich-street, at the corners of Franklin, Bethune and Twenty-second streets, the one corner of Cortlandt-street and Greenwich being placed there merely as the motor for the other half mile of the route, which according to the act of incorporation, had to be [several lines were not readable on microfilm]. The upright posts and the rails resting on them have been tested first at the place of manufacture, Buffalo, before shipment hither.

The flanges of the wheels (every car being provided with eight double trucks,) are an inch and a half in width, which, added to the weight of the car itself, would seem to make it impossible that they should ever get off the track. In addition to this, the floor of the car itself sets very close to the rails, thus throwing the whole weight on that portion of each wheel which may be at the times in contact with the rail. Every other precaution that prudence or experience could suggest has also been taken. The sections are to be inspected by Commissioners appointed in the act of incorporation before the road is thrown open for regular travel, and no fares can be collected until the certificate of these Commissioners has been filed in the offices of the Secretary of State and of the Mayor to the effect that the road is in a perfectly safe condition. By the terms of the act, these Commissioners are compelled to test the strength of the road with a car placed upon the track loaded to a weight equal to at least three times the ordinary weight of a passenger car proposed to be used thereon, with its occupants. The cars, ten of which are already completed, are each calculated to seat comfortably forty passengers, there being seats across the end as well as at the sides, and also in the center . The rails are now arriving from Buffalo, and probably there will be a sufficiency of them here by Friday next to insure the speedy completion of the track to Thirtieth-street. Until the down-track shall have been laid there will be turnouts or sideways used at the Battery and at Thirtieth-street to enable the car to get into position for making return trips either way. When the road is put into full operation it is intended that a car will pass a given depot every eight minutes. The difficulty of steep grades is entirely overcome by the use of traction rope with stationary power, although at one point of the route the incline is 130 feet to the mile, and at its upper end in the neighborhood of Harlem, 280 feet to the mile. Another advantaged possessed by this mode of travel is its comparative freedom from noise, as well as the obviation of all delay in consequence of street obstructions, a matter which now seriously interferes with the transit of passengers by horse-car routes.

The act of incorporation under which this Company is formed was passed April 22, 1867. It fixes the fare for each passenger for any distance within the limits of the City, not exceeding two miles, five cents; for every mile or fractional part of a mile in addition, thereto, one cent; provided that when the railway is completed and in operation between Battery Place and the vicinity of the Harlem River, the Company may at its option, adopt a uniform rate not exceeding ten cents for all distances on Manhattan Island.

The Company is by the same act compelled to pay a sum not exceeding five per cent of its net income from passenger trains, into the City Treasury as a compensation to the Corporation for the use of the streets.

The original stockholders of the Company were Messrs. C.T. Harvey, William E. Dodge, William H. Fogg, William H. Appleton, R. T. Underhill, John P. Yelverton, Turner Brothers, Chauncey Vibbard, Fred B. Fisk, John B. Murray, Wm. W. W. Wood, Moses A. Hoppock, John Perkins, Edwin Booth, D.D. Williams, Chas. D. Bigelow, De-Witt Clinton Jones, W. S. Guruee, S. M. Pettingill, John H. Hall, Alanson Trask, Isaac Scott, Stephen Cutter, D. Crawford, Jr., F. T. James, Frank Work, George L. Trask, H.F. Lombard, H. F. Spaulding, S. M. Pettingill, A. S. Barnes, R. P. Getty, and Samuel D. Babcock. The capital stock is about $1,000,000.

The officers of the Company are: President, D. N. Barney; Directors, S. M. R. P. Getty, Pettingill. A. S. Barnes, Chas. T. Harvey, J. H. Benedict, and C. E. Miller; Secretary and Treasurer, H. W. Taylor; Manager and Chief Engineer, Chas. T. Harvey; Attorney , Edward C. Delevan; Counsel, Hon. Jos. S. Bosworth. The office of the Company is at No. 48 Cortlandt-street.

The New York Times, Saturday, November 6th, 1869

The final article in this series talks about the "motive power" not being successfully demonstrated. They are already experiencing problems.

The New York Times, Saturday, November 6th, 1869. THE GREENWICH-STREET ELEVATED RAILWAY

This enterprise, which has now been before the public for about three years, and in the prosecution of which nearly half a million of dollars is reported to have been expended, appears to be no nearer completion than it was a year ago. The report that the failure of LOCKWOOD & Co. the bankers of the Company, had entailed losses upon the enterprise, is not correct. The loan of $300,000 which LOCKWOOD & CO. negotiated for the Company in 1868 had all been expended before that house failed. Since then the Company has endeavored to raise $300,000 to complete the road to Thirtieth-street, and in order to get the money, they proposed to the original subscribers to abate fifty per cent, on their original subscriptions and payments – all parties who contributed to the first $300,000, being allowed to receive fifty per cent of their subscriptions in additional stock. In this way $100,000 has been subscribed and partly paid in, which it is thought will be sufficient to complete the road to Canal-street. With this money the work is now being prosecuted , but in a very slow manner, the number of workmen actually employed being small. Subscribers to the road complain that the enterprise has been mismanaged, and that more than $100,000 has been squandered in useless experiments through the incompetency of the engineers. Even if the money were ready to complete the road the practicability of the plan is regarded by many as exceedingly problematical. The motive power for propelling the cars has not been fully demonstrated as a mechanical success, and many think it will prove abortive in practice. On the whole there does not appear to be much prospect that the public will get any relief at present in the way of speedy transit uptown from the long talked of Greenwich-street Elevated Railway.

The elevated structure up Greenwich Street and then up Ninth Avenue was further extended from 30th Street north (still on the curb line), to 34th Street and placed in operation July 30, 1873. By 1874 the New York Elevated Railroad Company's rolling stock had increased to ten cars and six "dummy engines." By Nov. 6, 1875 the el was extended to 42nd Street, and reached up to 61st Street and Ninth Ave. by January 18, 1876. The original one track, single column structure on the West Side of Manhattan, was eventually twinned by erecting another track on the western side of the street in the latter part of 1876. By May 1880 the two track system stretched all the way up Greenwich Street/Ninth Avenue, one track on each curb line. There was much reconstruction of the original structure. It was a great success and set the pattern for the other elevated lines that followed.

Continuing the Story of the 9th Avenue El

By 1891, the rebuilding project was extended all the way north to 116th St., creating Manhattan's first three-track elevated, although center-track express service did not begin until 1916. In upper Manhattan, the line had to accommodate the changing landscape; the 9th Ave El was over 100 feet above the street at "Suicide Curve", the portion of the El that made a 90-degree turn from 9th Ave onto 110th St. and another from 110th St. onto 8th Avenue.

The 9th Ave. El would extend all the way to 155th Street and terminate adjacent to the southern terminal of the New York and Northern Railroad (later the New York Central's Putnam Division). This junction would allow suburbanites an easy transfer to the 9th Ave El for points in downtown Manhattan. Eventually, the Polo Grounds would be built at that location as well. Behind the Polo Grounds was the 159th Street Yard, the largest elevated yard of the Manhattan Elevated Railroad Company.

The 9th Avenue El played host to various tests of electric operation between 1885 and 1900. In 1900, a test of "Sprague"-style MU cars was performed on the 6th Avenue El, prompting electrification of the whole system. Electric trains operated along the 9th Ave. El beginning on February 18, 1903. On April 1, 1903, the entire Manhattan Elevated system was leased to the IRT Company for 999 years. Subway system construction was planned to connect with the Els at various points. By June 25th, 1903, the last steam-powered elevated train was operated in passenger service on the 9th Ave El.

On July 1, 1918 the 6th and 9th Avenue Els extended operation to 167th St. station of the IRT Woodlawn line over a bridge built by the New York and Northern Railroad, which terminated operations at 155th Street on January 6th of the same year. The opening of the extension coincided with the cutback of the Putnam Division back to Sedgwick Avenue on the Bronx side of the Harlem River. The 155th Street terminal had two island platforms serving four tracks (plus one bypass track); the eastern platform served through trains to the Bronx, the western platform served trains terminating at 155th Street. Although the terminal was elevated, there were stairways leading down to the street and up to the 155th Street viaduct, connecting the Macombs Dam Bridge with "Coogan's Bluff". By January 2, 1919, 9th Ave. El service was extended to the Woodlawn station of the IRT.

On August 26th, 1932, the IRT went into receivership one month short of its 28th birthday. The 5 cent fare had taken its toll.

Unification of the privately owned transit lines with the Independent City-Owned Rapid Transit Railroad (IND System) occurred in June of 1940. Municipal operation of the IRT would begin on June 12th, 1940, two weeks after the City of New York took over the BMT. As part of the Unification deal, the 2nd Ave. El north of 59th Street and the 9th Ave. El in Manhattan would close forever at 12:01am on June 12th, 1940. There were no special ceremonies held for the closing of these lines. The last train on the 9th Ave. El, a 7 car train filled with 500 people, left South Ferry at 11:14pm, arriving at 155th Street at 12:06am. Free transfers at 155th St, Manhattan, and 161st St. in the Bronx, were made available to the Independent's Concourse line when the El closed. The only remaining portion of the 9th Ave El, the "Polo Grounds Shuttle" to Burnside Ave (later 167th Street), closed for about 1½ hours at the close of 9th Ave. El service, to prepare this portion of the line for its new service pattern.

The June 12th, 1940 ceremonies marking the takeover of the IRT by the city saw former Mayor James Walker in attendance. The ceremony basically was the surrender of Contracts 1, 2 and 3 to the City. LaGuardia called Contract 3 (the contract specifying the 5-cent fare) "the most famous football in history". He couldn't find "the father of the 5 cent fare"; no-one was willing to admit, or knew, who's idea it was.

The "Polo Grounds Shuttle", as it was called, saw little patronage because of the redundant IND Concourse Line running so closely nearby. In addition, the New York Central's Putnam Division stopped running, and in 1957, the Giants played their last season in the Polo Grounds. With so little ridership, the "Polo Grounds Shuttle" ceased operation at 11:59pm on August 31st, 1958.

Sources: Electric Railroads #25: New York's El Lines, 1867-1955, December 1956, Electric Railroader's Association. New York Times, June 12th, 1940. Unpublished NYCTA Facts and Figures Document, 1977. The Tracks of New York Number 3: Manhattan and Bronx Elevated Railroads, by Alan Paul Kahn and Jack May, 1977, Electric Railroader's Association.

Polo Grounds Shuttle - Walking Tour

Group photo at the 155th St / 8th Ave entrance to the IND Concourse Line. Photo by Mark Feinman.

The 9th Avenue El ran north from Manhattan from 155th Street on a bridge across the Bronx River, connecting to the existing #4-Jerome Ave. IRT elevated line near 162nd St. and Jerome Avenue. The line opened as far north as 155th St. in 1879, and was extended to meet the Jerome Ave. IRT in 1918, which itself had opened a year earlier. In 1940, the line was cut back to a shuttle operating between the Polo Grounds at 155th St. Station and the Jerome Ave. IRT. This shuttle ceased operation in 1958.

Track Map (1920)
Area Street Map

Sedgwick Avenue The Sedgwick Avenue station is under the Major Deegan Expressway but above the level of the Metro-North tracks. In order to get to the station, we had to climb down the embankment that supports the southbound Major Deegan. Once we climbed down this steep hill, we were able to climb up onto the Sedgwick Ave platform.

The portion of the Sedgwick Avenue station that was above today's Metro-North tracks was wooden; none of it remains. The portion that was on the embankment and under the Major Deegan, was built of concrete and much of this structure remains, although there are no signs identifying the station at all. The wooden portions of the structure ended about 50 feet from the small stairway onto the concrete catwalk seen below. Evidence of two subway-type entrances could be seen on the eastern portions of both the uptown and downtown side platforms. A picture below shows that the bricked-up entrance was partially broken into, and a peek inwards revealed the standard yellowish station tiles that can still be seen in many subway stations today. Picture below is the remains of part of the uptown platform, where the staircases leading up to the pedestrian overpass once stood. The outlines of the tunnel portals could easily be seen. There was an opening in the "wall" covering the entrance to the "eastbound" trackway. It was a rectangular opening, basically a double doorway with no door.

Five Random Images

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Photo by: Mark S. Feinman
Location: Sedgwick Avenue

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Photo by: Steven Priesel
Location: Sedgwick Avenue

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Photo by: Steven Priesel
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The Sedgwick / Jerome Ave. Tunnel. After viewing the Sedgwick Ave. station, the group proceeded into the tunnel, walking on the ballast where the eastbound track had been. The westbound tunnel was sealed at this end. Several wrecked automobiles were found in the tunnel right-of-way near the Anderson Ave. station end of the tunnel. They must have been brought there before the walls over the tunnel ends were installed. There were eight signals counted, six of them were still where they were when service ended, the other two were lying on the trackbed. All were in various states of rust-through, with no bulbs and broken lenses. One greeted us as soon as we entered the tunnel. The control box from one of them was found on the tunnel floor. A couple of them still had the signal plates loosely attached, although the enamel had worn off to the point that only tiny patches remained on the bare metal. All rail and ties had been removed, except for one, which was nearly buried by the ballast, which still exists in both tunnels. The westbound tunnel suffers greater water damage than the eastbound tunnel. Worker "escapes" along the outside walls were found at the usual intervals, and access between the tunnels was available every 20 feet or so. What was odd was that there were ladders leading up to the tunnel catwalk (along the center wall) every 10 feet, which seemed "extravagant".

Five Random Images

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Photo by: Mark S. Feinman
Location: Tunnel between Sedgwick & Anderson

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Photo by: Mark S. Feinman
Location: Tunnel between Sedgwick & Anderson

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Photo by: Mark S. Feinman
Location: Tunnel between Sedgwick & Anderson

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Photo by: Jodi Levine
Location: Tunnel between Sedgwick & Anderson

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Photo by: From James Blaine Walker, Fifty Years of Rapid Transit, 1918
Collection of: Joe Brennan
Location: Tunnel between Sedgwick & Anderson

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Jerome / Anderson Avenue. At Anderson Ave., we were able to climb up on the platform and view what had been the station from the inside. We had viewed this station from outside on the street but could see virtually nothing. There was a definite doorway in the wall that once sealed off the tunnel, again no door in the doorway. We could look out to the street from behind the black fence. Along the downtown side, the fence had a door in it, but that, too, was missing. Had we decided to climb up the rock wall on Jerome Avenue, we would have been pleasantly surprised in seeing that there would be access in this direction, too. The station was littered with garbage and tires from "Rocky's Chop Shop". The area of the platform that serves as the roof of the awning shop was clean, and evidence of recent roof work could be seen. A hatch was drilled into the platform that serves as the awning shop's access for its "roof". We wonder if the shop's owner even knew that 9th Ave El train service once ran on his roof; with all the garbage, it was hard to make out where the trackways were. And like the Sedgwick Avenue side, the sealed tunnels were not entirely encased in concrete; the top 1/4 was grating left open for ventilation.

Half of the remains of this station were outside in the "cut" between the apartment buildings, and the other half was underground. The former fare control area for the underground portion of the station is now occupied by a laundromat. Evidence of a failed break-in to this laundromat could be seen at the top of a staircase leading to the fare control area.

Jerome Ave. & 162nd St., Street Level. Not much has changed since these pictures were taken (at Jerome Ave. & 162nd St., the site of the Jerome/Anderson "subway" station). The ad for Israel Ruiz is, for the most part, painted over, save for the words "state senator" and part of his image from the glasses on up. To the right of this picture is a rock "wall", which looks like it is climbable on its right side. As a large group, we decided not to climb it, knowing full well that there was "guaranteed" access under the Major Deegan Expressway at Sedgwick Avenue. Had we climbed this rock wall, we would have seen that there was an opening in the fence where a door (a locked door, presumably) was missing, providing easy access to the Sedgwick Ave platform. The station canopy, at one time, extended from the tunnel portal all the way across Jerome Avenue; there was no evidence of the canopy structure anywhere on the platform remains. The folks living in the adjacent apartment buildings have a great view of this area, and probably have no idea that 9th Ave El trains once ran through the mysterious tunnel that's partially blocked.

To the left of the pictures below is a distingushing feature of the IRT that is also seen in plain sight along the Queens Blvd. viaduct of the Flushing Line - green tile along the wall. It is partially painted over, but clearly visible. The tilework extended along the concrete structure that once crossed Jerome Avenue. The doors at the bottom of the wall, I presume, were station entrances, and there was no evidence of station entrances on the sidewalk (different concrete on the ground, for example). This area is occupied by a sign and awning business, and a quick peek in yielded no evidence that a station was ever there.

If you walk back far enough on 162nd St. between Jerome & River Avenues, you can see part of the Manhattan bound tunnel. (If it were summer, you wouldn't be able to see a thing). You can't tell whether or not it is sealed, even if you looked through a camera's zoom lens.

There was no evidence of station entrances on Sedgwick Ave. itself - just a solid rock/brick wall forming the foundation for an apartment house. The Sedgwick Ave. platform is clearly visible from a pedestrian overpass over the Major Deegan Expressway at 162nd St. & Summit Ave. Cross the Major Deegan and you can see the edge of the plaform under the expressway, and remnants of another concrete structure that once held the foundation of a pedestrian overpass across the tracks. On the other side of the overpass is a closed staircase that one time connected to a pedestrian bridge that crossed over what is now Metro-North, for access to the 9th Ave El; it is fenced off. If you continue down the ramp of this overpass, towards the Macombs Dam Bridge, it leads to some brush, and you can easily walk through this brush and step onto these platforms. (Between the time of my walking tour and the actual field trip, either DOT or the Parks Department was through there; all the brush was cleared).

Five Random Images

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Photo by: Mark S. Feinman
Location: Anderson Avenue

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Location: Anderson Avenue

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Photo by: Steven Priesel
Location: Anderson Avenue

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Photo by: Steven Priesel
Location: Anderson Avenue

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Collection of: David Pirmann
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Back to the Tunnel. Many of us walked back through the "westbound" trackway - no automobiles blocking the way, but we had to cross back over to the "eastbound" side on the Sedgwick Ave. end through one of the crossover holes spaced at intervals throughout the tunnel in order to get back out. A painted sign indicating the location of Woodycrest Avenue was found in the westbound tunnel. We didn't see any emergency exits in the tunnel at all (but there were "ladders" leading up to the catwalk every 10 feet, something that we felt was unusual).

Many of us expressed surprised that there was absolutely no evidence of homeless people in either tunnel. Some of us joked that we were fully expecting to find a body. And unlike some of the currently opened stations along the NYC Subway, there were no track rabbits (rats) anywhere.

Jerome Avenue & 163rd St, Street Level.. The girders of the connection at 163rd St. are still there. In fact, the railroad ties remain over 163rd St. At the end of the structure, you can see some more ties and about 20 feet of guardrail, where it ends abruptly by IRT substation 44, built in 1917 and apparently still in use. The space where the el ran to Jerome Ave. along 162nd Street is occupied by a parking lot for a tennis club. The former fare control area on the east side of Jerome Avenue and 162nd Street is now occupied by the entrance to the tennis club.

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Photo by: Peter Ehrlich
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Location: Jerome Avenue-9th Avenue El Connection

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Photo by: Bill Palter
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Location: Jerome Avenue-9th Avenue El Connection

More Images: 1-30

155th Street, Manhattan. Returning to Sedgwick Ave., the group walked across the Macombs Dam Bridge to the site of the Polo Grounds, and stopped to look at the old El stairways on the155th Street viaduct. We tried looking for remnants of the 159th Street yard; there were none. We tried viewing the Sedgwick Ave station from the Harlem River Drive at the end of 8th Ave; the view was obstructed by the recently built exit ramp from the Major Deegan Expressway for the Bronx Terminal Market and Yankee Stadium. In the Polo Grounds Housing complex, there was a plaque commemorating the Polo Grounds stadium, identifying the approximate location of home plate. At the end of the field trip, the group posed for its group photo.

Five Random Images

Image 8285

(37k, 320x240)
Photo by: Mark S. Feinman
Location: Macombs Dam Bridge

Image 8286

(86k, 800x529)
Photo by: Timothy Todd
Location: Macombs Dam Bridge

Image 8287

(64k, 800x520)
Photo by: Timothy Todd
Location: Macombs Dam Bridge

Image 8288

(77k, 800x536)
Photo by: Timothy Todd
Location: Macombs Dam Bridge

Image 155247

(309k, 1024x695)
Photo by: Steve Zabel
Collection of: Joe Testagrose
Location: Macombs Dam Bridge

Photo Gallery

Five Random Images

Image 38969

(231k, 1044x788)
Photo by: Steven Priesel
Location: Sedgwick Avenue

Image 38991

(122k, 1044x788)
Photo by: Steven Priesel
Location: Sedgwick Avenue

Image 45172

(163k, 1024x558)
Collection of: Joe Testagrose
Location: 155th Street

Image 130035

(378k, 1024x683)
Photo by: David Tropiansky
Location: Sedgwick Avenue

Image 132313

(281k, 1024x604)
Photo by: Ed Watson/Arthur Lonto Collection
Collection of: Frank Pfuhler
Location: Battery Place

More Images: 1-50 51-100 101-150 151-200 201-250 251-256

Photos By Location

Battery Place, Rector Street, Cortlandt Street, Barclay Street, Warren Street, Franklin Street, Desbrosses Street, Houston Street, Christopher Street, 14th Street, 23rd Street, 30th Street, 34th Street, 42nd Street, 50th Street, 59th Street, 66th Street, 72nd Street, 81st Street, 86th Street, 93rd Street, 104th Street, 110th Street, 116th Street, 125th Street, 130th Street, 135th Street, 140th Street, 145th Street, 151st Street, 155th Street, 159th Street Yard, Harlem River Bridge, Sedgwick Avenue, Tunnel between Sedgwick & Anderson, Anderson Avenue, Jerome Avenue-9th Avenue El Connection

See The 3rd Avenue Elevated for South Ferry Station.

Page Credits

"Overview" by G. J. Christiano. "Continuing Story" by Mark S. Feinman. "Walking tour" compiled by David Pirmann from SubTalk Posts. Map by Michael Calcagno.

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