Wednesday, February 28, 2018

A Step Back Into New York City History #1

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 work-folk 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 window sill 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 Inter-borough 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 high-rise office and residential buildings.

New York raised railway 1895
During the 1800's Harlem was undergoing all sorts of transportation projects to encourage northward expansion. In 1831 the New York and Harlem Railroad Company was incorporated for the purpose of constructing a railroad from the central part of the city to Harlem. This encouraged the residents of lower Manhattan to move northward to Harlem. The Third Avenue Horse Railroad was built in 1870; the Third Avenue elevated railway was built in 1878 and the Second Avenue elevated railway was built in 1880, the First Avenue Trolley in the 1880s, the elevated rail lines that extended north along the eighth and Ninth avenues were built during the 1880s and finally the IRT Lexington Avenue Subway, which opened in 1903. "But it wasn't until 1879, when the third and second avenue elevated train lines were built that the population of Harlem began to rapidly increase. "With the construction of the "els," urbanized development occurred very rapidly, precipitating the construction of apartment buildings and brownstones. This availability of reasonable housing and faster transportation allowed the working class to be able to live in East Harlem and travel to their places of employment downtown.

These construction projects attracted many immigrant wage laborers mostly during the 1880s and 1890s. The steady flow of cheap labor gave the ruthless entrepreneurs a superb opportunity to reap profits. The first group were the German and Irish workers who laid down the trolley tracks and dug the subway tunnels. Because of East Harlem's cheap tenement rent and convenience of public transportation, many central and eastern European factory workers were able to commute from lower Manhattans sweatshops. As a result of this construction East Harlem became highly populated with the Irish and Italian community.

America faced one of its greatest tests of mass accommodation and tolerance with the immigration wave of the 1840s and 1850s, the Irish and Germans the largest ethnic groups represented.