Remembering the 9th Avenue El
The 9th Avenue El opened its doors on April 20th, 1871 as the first-ever elevated railway in New York City.
At the height of its operation, it spanned all the way from Manhattan's South Ferry to Kingsbridge Road in the Bronx.
In its earliest days, the 9th Avenue El was powered by steam locomotives, but in 1885 the El's operator—the Manhattan Railway Company—added an electrified third rail, making it the first electrified railway in New York City. A year later, in 1886, customers would dig into their pockets for a nickel when this line began collecting fares during peak periods.
The 9th Avenue El was also New York City's first railway with three tracks, allowing for our first-ever express service. Beginning in 1918, express trains on the 9th Avenue El would travel directly from 125th Street to 155th Street, skipping 130th Street, 135th Street, 140th Street, 145th Street, and 151st Street.
Also in 1918, the 9th Avenue El expanded from 155th Street into the Bronx thanks to the opening of the 155th Street Bridge, which allowed the El to connect to the existing Jerome Avenue elevated line. For baseball enthusiasts at the time, the line connected the old Polo Grounds to Yankee Stadium.
Service on the 9th Avenue El ended in 1940 as underground subway service on the 8th Avenue A/C/E lines, beginning in 1932, rendered this elevated line obsolete. The Bronx portion of the line would continue, however, as the "Polo Grounds Shuttle" until 1958 when the New York baseball Giants skipped town for San Francisco.