I see that I wrote back in Riding the El -2, when I was still working my way through the 1938 photographs:
You know, the view everyone took was at 110th St, the 'suicide curve', where the el ran high above the street. But not this guy.I was wrong. By May 1940, he couldn't resist.
At 110th St, the elevated railway crossed from Columbus Ave (the continuation of Ninth Ave) to Eighth Ave. Street level drops about 60 feet from 105th and Columbus to 110th and Eighth, and to minimize the grade at track level, the elevated railway ran very high around the double curve and gradually downhill over Eighth Ave, reaching a normal height by 125th St. The high curve and the elaborate ironwork under it captured imaginations as soon as it was built.
Above is an aerial photograph of 1924, from New York City Map, showing that both of the curves were built cutting over private property. Farther downtown, the el stayed over streets and made some tight turns, but this far north, in the 1870s, land was still cheap, and the elevated railway company spent a few dollars. The result was that trains could take the curves at speed, adding to passengers' delight.
The fun was somewhat ruined in 1903 when a station was added in the middle of the curve. You can see it in the image above. Local trains now had to slow to make the new stop.
Above is a mosaic of pages from the J W Bromley's Desk Atlas of Manhattan, 1916. It shows that access to the station was by way of a brick building on the north side of the street. Most of the building was Manhattan Railway Substation 4, but along the street was a five-story brick tower with four elevators that carried passengers to station high above.
The tower was still there into the 1980s. I remember seeing it. Did I take a picture? No. The brick had patches on the street side near the top, where it once opened to the elevated station. It's gone now, along with the small buildings to its east at the circle, replaced by a large residential building.
What you can still see are the three apartment houses on the east side of Columbus Ave with curved walls, and the "one story stores" that were once under the tracks.
139-2. 110th St station looking northeast.
There's the top of the tower with its tiled roof. You can see how sharp the curve was. And see the tops of the buildings on Eighth Ave? They're six stories.
No ads for Mulsified here, but we've got Ruppert beer, Dr Lyon's powder with no pumice and some amount of safety, and Del Monte canned pineapples. And a man carrying a brown paper package tied up with string— the way they used to do it before someone invented shopping bags.
139-1. 110th St station looking northeast, below track level.
This must be the view from the cross-under between the elevator tower, left, and the uptown platform. I find the slim cylindrical iron columns and the horizontal lattice bracing a little unsettling, and I'm only looking at the picture. I know this stood for 61 years under the stresses of moving trains. It still doesn't look strong enough, does it?
A closer look at the iron. The Phoenix column, mainstay of the Sixth and Second Ave Els, was made of four parts bolted together.
Madame Alice, cleaner and dyer, has her sign projecting past the column. Next door they have pies.
I underexposed a second scan of this negative to bring out that bright area on the right. There are some great cars in the street and in the gas station on the northeast corner. But mainly, check out that truck for Jacob Ruppert's Beer with the open bench seat!
Above is a picture from about 1905, looking west on Cathedral Parkway (110th St). This gives you a good look at the station and the combined elevator tower and electrical substation. The buildings are beautifully designed— notice the arched doorway of the substation— but were almost immediately hidden behind cheap billboards and, later, one-story commercial buildings.
It looks as if the elevator had two stops near the top, one for the mezzanine crossing under the tracks for the uptown side, and then a higher one at the level of the downtown platform.
The entrance was originally an open pavilion with arches. The side would eventually be obscured by stores.
This image was made by the Detroit Publishing Company. Their archives can be seen at the Library of Congress web site.
Here's the Eighth Ave curve in the nineteenth century, looking east from 110th St. The station and buildings were years in the future. 110th St had not yet been widened yet either. If the construction in the foreground is for its transformation into Cathedral Parkway, the year is 1894.
West side engines ran with boilers north. Trains ran engine first, but the engines were not turned at the terminals, so the engine on the downtown train in the background is leading with its coal bunker. Notice the height of the apartment buildings on Eighth Ave.
(Photo print from my collection)
139-6. Posted notice.
I don't know where our photographer came across this ancient notice with its references to bad coins and ticket collection. The Manhattan Railway Company owned the elevated railways up to the end in 1940, but they had been leased to and operated by the Interborough Rapid Transit Company since 1903. This sign was at least 37 years out of date.
I'm sorry to say that's the end. I've gone through all the negatives.
I found a Sixth Ave picture that I somehow missed posting, so let's go out with that. It's 1938, and we're running uptown, just out of the curve from Third St into Sixth Ave, approaching Eighth St station. On our right buildings have been cleared for a construction site for the Sixth Ave Subway. The World of Tomorrow is on its way.
82-6. Sixth Ave looking north from Waverly Place.