train

Herald Square with Streetcars and the Sixth Avenue Elevated Train, 1899

Herald Square with Streetcars and the Sixth Avenue Elevated Train, 1899

Herald Square, pictured here in 1899, was named after the New York Herald, the largest circulation newspaper of the time. The New York Herald Building was designed by McKim, Mead & White, and constructed in 1895. Herald Square could be called the ancestor of Times Square as the hub of New York City life. At the intersection of Sixth Avenue, Broadway, and 34th Street, with access to the Sixth Avenue Elevated Train and numerous streetcars, it was certainly a pre-eminent crossroads, well-trafficked enough to entice Macy's to open their flagship store there in 1907.

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New York Central Railroad Train on Eleventh Avenue, 1929

New York Central Railroad Train on Eleventh Avenue, 1929

Before the West Side Improvement Project created the High Line, trains ran down Tenth and Eleventh Avenue. Here a New York Central Freight Train heads south on Eleventh. A flagman, or West Side Cowboy, should be preceding the train, but in this shot is out of the frame. The train is passing the George Kern building. Kern was a packing, wholesale, and retail distributor of pork and beef products, which was bought by Adolf Gobel, Inc., in 1927 for $10 million.

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West Side Cowboy, circa 1930

West Side Cowboy, circa 1930

The West Side Cowboy was a common sight on Tenth Avenue for over 80 years. By law, a man on horseback, waving a red flag, had to precede each train that ran down the avenue. Still, so many accidents occurred that Tenth Avenue became known as Death Avenue. In 1929, the city, the state, and the New York Central Railroad agreed on the West Side Improvement Project, which resulted in the creation of the High Line and the elimination of the street level tracks and the flagman on horseback. Here we see the flagman on Tenth Avenue and West 28th Street, alongside Chelsea Park.

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Fulton Street and Flatbush Avenue, Brooklyn, 1908

Fulton Street and Flatbush Avenue, Brooklyn, 1908

In this black and white photo from the spring of 1908, we look east beneath the Fulton Avenue Elevated Railroad at the intersection of Flatbush Avenue. Passengers wait to board several streetcars. Men are engaged in construction.

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Columbus Avenue and West 79th Street, c. 1910

Columbus Avenue and West 79th Street, c. 1910

Looking north along Columbus Avenue from West 79th Street, one can see the 81st Street Station for the Ninth Avenue Elevated Train. On the east side of Columbus Avenue, out of the frame of this photo is the American Museum of Natural History. The Ninth Avenue El became part of the IRT in 1903 and was dismantled when the City of New York purchased the IRT in 1940.

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Pennsylvania Station Train Concourse, Clock, and Arch, 1940

Pennsylvania Station Train Concourse, Clock, and Arch, 1940

This clock in Penn Station was often photographed. It cried out for it, hanging as it did just beyond the darkened archway. Here we see it in the summer of 1940, hanging portentously above a crowd largely composed of men in uniform. They all know war is coming, that it is only a matter of time.

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Pennsylvania Station Train Concourse, 1940

Pennsylvania Station Train Concourse, 1940

The great Pennsylvania Railroad station was thirty years old at the time of this photograph, and it had yet to see its greatest traffic. Passenger volume would reach its peak during the war years. Rail travel would diminish in the years following the war as other modes of transportation, most notably air travel, gained popularity. By the 1950s, Penn Station would no longer be profitable, and the Pennsylvania Railroad would sell its air rights as means of offsetting the cost of operating the station. This would result in the eventual demolition of station.

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Train Departure Concourse, Pennsylvania Station, 1938

Train Departure Concourse, Pennsylvania Station, 1938

There was a time, not all that long ago, when railroads were the dominant form of travel in the United States, and the train stations of major cities reflected their importance. Pennsylvania Station in New York City was the grand-daddy of them all. Designed by the firm of McKim, Mead & White in the Beaux-Arts style, Penn Station was the ultimate blend of functionality with monumental grandeur.

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Grand Central Station, 1905

Grand Central Station, 1905

There have been three train stations bearing the name Grand Central in New York City. This photo shows the second structure, Grand Central Station, which only existed in this form for about a decade. Grand Central Station replaced Grand Central Depot in an effort to relieve congestion and improve safety. A catastrophic train collision in 1902 impelled further improvement, and Grand Central Station was torn down in stages and replaced by Grand Central Terminal completely by 1913.

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Greenwich and Fulton Streets, 1914

Greenwich and Fulton Streets, 1914

In this black and white photograph, taken in 1914, we see a man walking beneath the elevated train line at the intersection of Greenwich and Fulton Streets in Lower Manhattan. There's a lot of detail in this old picture, from the guy getting a nickel shoe shine on the left to the storefronts across the street. But perhaps the most intersesting thing about this photograph is that Greenwich and Fulton Streets no longer intersect. Their union was broken in the 1960s when the designers of the World Trade Center carved out a Super-Block in Lower Manhattan.

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