“Yikes! What a Way To Go...New York City's Travel Experience
By Miriam Medina

Part III
New York City's Travel Experience

Researched and Compiled by Miriam Medina

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A) On the 4th of July, 1854, the horse cars commenced to run. The routes were Fulton and Court streets, Myrtle and Flushing avenue routes. The fare was four cents on the Myrtle and Fulton avenue routes. (12)

B) The New York and Flushing Railroad was opened June 26, 1854, its East River terminus being a dock at Hunter's Point near the mouth of Newtown Creek, from which it connected a few times daily with one of the Harlem boats for the lower part of New York. (2)

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A) In 1856 an improved City railroad car was introduced. "The principal advantages of this car, over the old, are: It is lighter, will hold as many passengers, and give them more room and accommodations: takes up less room in the street, is less liable to meet with accidents, requires the attendance of but one person, and two horses can draw it, loaded with passengers, up any grade in the city." "The shape of the car is something like an omnibus__ The entrance is similar to the omnibus, much lower, however, and much more easy of access: and the door which is closed by the driver, covers the step when closed. The driver's seat is on the roof, and he also acts as money receiver, and controls the door by means of a strap in the same manner as in an omnibus. The car comfortably seats 30 persons with abundance of room between the knees. This car was constructed by Mr. Stephenson the well known car builder in New York city, but to Mr. Queen, the entire credit belongs of its conception." The only disadvantage to this was that the drivers who sat on the roof of the vehicle were exposed to all kinds of weather conditions, suffering greatly from the extremes of heat and cold. They could not leave their seats, and were oftentimes frozen before they reached the ends of their routes. . (13)

B) Hunter's Point ferry to East Thirty-fourth street, New York, was opened in 1856, and to James Slip in 1865. (37)

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The Ninth Avenue Railway Company was organized in 1859, and a half-dozen or more cross-town roads, both in the upper and lower sections of the city, were constructed within the next ten or fifteen years, as the city grew in size and population. (34)

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April 23. The first passenger train on the Staten Island Railroad began operating between Eltingville and Clifton (Vanderbilt's Landing).

THE SURFACE LINES IN GREATER NEW YORK CITY did  not begin to develop to a very great extent until after 1860. At that time the need for more railroad surface transportation had really become a necessity, and it was in that year that the legislature passed the well known "Grid Iron" act, which permitted the construction of surface lines on many cross streets in the City of New York; and the trackage increase was rapid and continuous from that year.(33)

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A) In 1861 the terminus of the Long island Railroad was changed from Brooklyn to Hunter's Point, soon after which the latter place began to grow rapidly until, in 1871, with Astoria, Dutch Kills and the surrounding districts, it was incorporated as Long island City. (2)

B) In 1861, they erected new ferry buildings at Hamilton avenue ferry; and in 1863 they built the iron ferry building at Fulton Ferry, on New York side.

C) Pavonia ferry, from the terminal of the New York and Erie Railroad at Pavonia, to Chambers street, New York, was opened in 1861, and to West Twenty-third street in 1868. (37)

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 The ferry from Desbrosses street to Jersey City was opened in 1862. (37)

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In 1864, the Broadway and Seventh Avenue car line was established, and the cars were run on Broadway above Union Square, continuing through University Place below Fourteenth Street. Sharp was one of the directors of this line and it became the backer of the Broadway line and the corporation through which the financial manipulations of the Broadway Surface Company, as Sharp's line was officially known, were made. The principal difficulty experienced by the exploiters of the road was in getting the consent of property owners on Broadway below Fourteenth Street. (4)

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A) As for the pedestrian situation, the Loew's bridge which spanned across Broadway and Fulton street was erected in 1866, only to be torn down two years later as a result of loud protest from the merchants in the area.

B) "In 1866 the Jamaica and East new York Horse Car Company, was chartered and it built a horse car line from Jamaica to East New York on the Plank Road where it connected with the horse car lines on Fulton Avenue and Broadway in East New York." (14)

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THE BEGINNING OF REAL RAPID TRANSIT when the first American rapid-transit baby was born, was the construction of the first elevated road in New York City, in 1867, on the east side of Greenwich street from Battery Place to Cortlandt Street. As the population in Manhattan was rapidly increasing in this period, and in 1869 had reached the figure of 900,000 people, the need of a rapid method of traveling was becoming more acute and apparent; so in that year this short piece of single-track elevated structure was extended over the easterly curb line of Greenwich Street and Westerly curb line of Ninth Avenue, to Thirtieth Street, with a station at 29th Street, reaching out for business by making a close connection with the passenger terminal of the New York Central and Hudson River Railroad, their station at that time being located at  Tenth Avenue and 32nd Street. (33)

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 . (15)

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 the thunderous sounds from the train of cars whizzing by, 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 FERRIES: Including the Harlem and Staten Island lines, there are twenty-three lines of ferries plying between New York and the adjacent shores. Of these, nine are in the North or Hudson river, and fourteen in the East river. The boats are large side-wheel vessels, capable of carrying both foot-passengers, horses, and vehicles. Early in the morning they are crowded with persons and teams coming into the city, and in the afternoon the travel is equally great away from the city. On some of the lines the boats ply every five minutes; on others the intervals are longer. The Harlem and Staten Island boats start hourly--the fare on these lines is ten cents. On the East river lines it is two cents, on the North river three cents. Over fifty millions of persons are annually transported by them. In the winter such traveling is very dangerous. Storms of snow, fogs, and floating ice interfere greatly with the running of the boats, and render accidents imminent. Collisions are frequent during rough or thick weather, and the ice sometimes carries the boats for miles out of their course. The East river is always more or less crowded with vessels of all kinds, either in motion or at anchor, and even in fair weather it is only by the exercise of the greatest skill on the part of the pilot that collisions can be avoided. (18)

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A) THE ELEVATED RAILWAY NOW IN THIS CITY, with its 1,117 passenger-cars, its 335 engines, its 5,520 employees, and its trains running only fifty seconds apart, had its source in a road operated by the West Side and Yonkers Railway Company just thirty years ago. This road was built on Greenwich Street from Battery Place to Cortlandt Street. It was completed and accepted by the Rapid-Transit Commission July 2, 1868.There was one station on the north-east corner of Cortlandt Street. The road was next extended to Thirtieth Street. It was a single-track road, and it took twenty minutes to make the trip. It skirted the east side of Greenwich Street up to Fourteenth Street, and thence into Ninth Avenue. This extension single track was completed in February, 1870, and a second line of tracks was finished by July, 1870. The cars were operated by an endless chain, without an engine, being driven by stationary engines that were located under ground at Cortlandt, Franklin, Bank, and Twenty-second Streets. This method of operation proved a failure.  The grips were in-effective, the chains would sag, and numerous details of the machinery get out of order. The road remained idle from November, 1870, to April, 1871. In April, 1871, dummy engines and three cars were put in service between the two stations, and this amendment proved more satisfactory, although the road just about that time went into the hands of a receiver, or of a trustee, as such a referee was called then. Soon afterwards stations were built at Watts Street, Twelfth Street, and Ninth Street, stations since removed. (34)

B) The Fulton ferry-boat collision, November 14, 1868.    (click twice)

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Half a million of people living outside of, and most of them doing or having business in New York, make the ferries the sole means of
communication with the island. It is calculated that 250,000 to 300,000 persons come and go upon the ferries every 24 hours. A summary of ferries by 1869. Of the ferries nine are to Brooklyn, from Catharine Slip, foot of Fulton, Wall, Jackson, Whitehall, New Chambers, Roosevelt, East Houston and Grand streets; two to Hoboken, foot of Barclay and Christopher streets; two to Jersey City, foot of Courtlandt and Desbrasses streets; two to Hunter's Point, from James slip and foot of East Thirty-fourth street; two to Staten island, foot of Whitehall and Dey streets; two to Green Point, foot of East Tenth and East Twenty-third streets; Hamilton avenue ferry, foot of Whitehall street; Bull's Ferry and Fort Lee, pier 51 North river; Mott Haven, pier 24 East river; Pavonia, foot of Chambers street, and Weehawken, foot of West Forty-second street. (16)

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A) In 1870 or thereabouts, Manhattan's first passenger subway was secretly built under Broadway by the Beach Pneumatic Railway Company. It was only 200 or 300 feet in length, extending between Murray Street and Park Place,. It was a real subway with real tracks and a real car which traveled back and forth by compressed air. This miniature subway was not, sufficiently impressive to convince the authorities that the method of transportation for New York City, and it fell into disuse, was closed up, and forgotten until the excavators for the present Broadway line unearthed the crypt in 1912, with its rusted tracks and rotted remains
of the old car. (17)

B) The first high-wheeled bicycle appears in New York in 1870.

C) In 1870 the South Side Railroad was built from Long island City through Jamaica to Babylon. Previously the Long Island Railroad had laid its line from Jamaica to Long Island City. (14)

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New York--first steam-powered elevated line (New York Elevated Railroad Co.) The steam trains were first used on the elevated railroad in Greenwich street.

1 8 7 2:  Picture of Old Broadway Stage, New York   (click twice)


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A) Brooklyn Elevated Railroad Co. incorporated; connects Brooklyn and Woodhaven, May 26, 1874.

B) The electric street car was invented by Stephen Dudley Field and seen in New York in 1874. By 1887 Richmond, Virginia was boasting the nation's first complete "electric railway service" and by 1890 horse cars all across the nation were being replaced by the electric trolley cars, trolley cars, electric cars, or simply electrics or trolleys. (15)

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A) By 1876 the Union Ferry Company of Brooklyn owned 16 boats and was running five ferries. at a) Catharine, from Main street, Brooklyn, to Catharine street, New York; b) Fulton, from Fulton street, Brooklyn, to Fulton street, New York.; c) Wall street, from Montague street, Brooklyn, to Wall street, New York.; d) South, from Atlantic street, Brooklyn, to Whitehall street, New York, Hamilton, from Hamilton avenue, Brooklyn, to Whitehall street, new York. This company transported 125,000 foot passengers daily, over and back__44,000,000 annually.(8)

B) The following street railroads existed in Brooklyn by 1876. Routes:

EAST NEW YORK LINE.—Fulton Ferry to East New York, via Fulton street. Returning by same route.

FLUSHING AVENUE LINE.—Fulton Ferry to Van Cott Avenue, via Fulton and Sands streets, Hudson and Flushing avenues, Broadway and Graham avenue,to Van Cott. Returning by same route.

FLATBUSH LINE.—Fulton Ferry to Flatbush, via Fulton street and Flatbush avenue. Returning by same route.
FURMAN STREET LINE.—Fulton Ferry to Hamilton Ferry, via Funnan, Colombia and Sacket streets. Returning by same route.

GATES AVENUE LINE.—Fulton Ferry to Broadway, via Fulton street, and Greene, Franklin and Gates avenues. Returning by same route.

GREENPOINT LINE, No. 1.—Fulton Ferry to Greenpoint, via Fulton street, Myrtle, Classon and Kent avenues, and First, Franklin and Commercial streets. Returning by same route.

GREENPOINT LINE, No. 2.—Fulton Ferry to Greenpoint, via Fulton street, Myrtle, Washington and Kent avenues, and First, Franklin and Commercial streets. Returning by same route.

GREENWOOD LINE, No. 1.—Fulton Ferry to Greenwood, via Fulton and Court streets, Hamilton and Third avenues and Twenty-fourth street. Returning by same route.

GREENWOOD LINE, No. 2.—Fulton Ferry to Greenwood, via Fulton street, Flatbush and Third avenues and Twenty-fourth st. Returning by same route.

HAMILTON AVENUE LINE.—Hamilton Ferry to Fort Hamilton via Hamilton and Third avenues. Returning by same route.

MYRTLE AVENUE LINE.—Fulton Ferry to Broadway, via Fulton street and Myrtle avenue. Returning by same route.

PUTNAM AVENUE LINE.—Via Fulton and Putnam avenues, and Halsey street. (8)

C)  The following Car routes existed in the city of New York by 1876.

Broadway and University Place Line; Sixth Avenue Line; Sixth Avenue, Broadway and Canal Street Line; Broadway and Broome St. Line; Seventh Avenue Line; Eighth Avenue Line; Fourth Avenue Line; Eighth Avenue, Broadway and Canal Street Line; Central Park, North River and Tenth Avenue Line; Ninth Avenue Line; Central Park, East River and Avenue A Line; Second Avenue Line; Third Avenue Line; Bleecker Street and Fulton Ferry Line; Bleecker Street Branch.

The cross-town Routes were the following: Dry Dock and East Broadway Line; Grand St. Ferries to Jersey City Ferries; City Hall, Avenue B and 34th St. Line; Grand Street Ferries; Avenue C; Forty-second and Grand Street Ferry Line; Central Cross Town; Debrosses St., Vestry and Grand St. Line; Christopher and East Tenth St.; Twenty-third Street Line; 125 Street; Harlem Bridge, Morrisania and Fordham; (8)

D) The Omnibus Lines commenced running through Broadway to Greenwich, in about 1832, and twenty years thereafter the Third Avenue Street cars commenced running to Harlem. For several years Broadway was alive with Omnibuses; but as the Street Railroads increased, many of the Omnibus Lines were withdrawn.

The following Omnibus Lines are still operating as of 1876. Broadway and Fifth Avenue Line; Broadway, Twenty-third and Ninth Avenue Line; Broadway and Fourth Avenue Line; Broadway, Twenty-third and Erie Railroad Ferry; Madison Avenue Line. (8)

Photo Credit: Horsecar: (15)

Sources of Information Utilized

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