Monday, August 25, 2008

Chit-Chat Over Coffee Swirls (21)

Topic: The Third Avenue El (Manhattan, New York)

The elevated train is described from a passenger's point of view in the following manner:" the fleeting intimacy you formed with people in second-and third-floor interiors, while all the usual street life went on underneath, had a domestic intensity mixed with a perfect repose that was the last effect of good society with all its security and exclusiveness. He said it was better than the theater, of which reminded him, to see those people through their windows: a family party of workfolk at a late tea, some of the men in their short-sleeves; a woman sewing by a lamp; a mother laying her child in it's cradle; a man with his head fallen on his hands upon a table; a girl and her lover leaning over the windowsill together. What suggestion! What drama! What infinite interest! "

As for rapid transit New York City built the first elevated railway in 1867, but it wasn't until the early 1880's that it was called "the elevated" and not until the late 80's that it was called the "El". From the 1920s on, the Third avenue El and the Sixth avenue El were familiar names heard throughout Manhattan, typifying the big city's hustle, bustle, dirt, and noise .

RAPID TRANSIT WAS A NECESSITY in the expanding city. The populace of New York were in a great hullabaloo for more speedy and convenient means of getting to and from work than the horse cars, omnibuses, street cars and stages afforded. So on July 3, 1868, the first elevated railroad train sped along at fifteen m.p.h. from New York's Battery up Greenwich Street to Cortlandt. Within a few years two elevated lines were under construction on either side of the city. On the flip side, the presence of the El generated some negative reactions from the public and horse-car drivers. Citizens complained about how close the el was almost touching the buildings , the thunderous sounds from the train of cars whizzing by, the horrible shriek and squeak of metal on metal, sparks falling upon the pedestrians and igniting store awnings, scaring and causing the horses to buck and madly run away crashing their vehicles against the columns of the El and most of all the lack of privacy and exposure to the dirt floating into their windows for those who lived in the upper tenement floors, as well as darkening the streets and lower apartments of the dwellings.

The Third Avenue Line, or Third Avenue El, was an elevated railway in Manhattan, and the Bronx, New York City. It passed into the ownership of the Interborough Rapid Transit Company (IRT) and eventually the New York City Subway.The El in Manhattan came down in the early 1950s and Third Avenue became a business center with highrise office and residential buildings.

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