Thursday, October 7, 2010 at 4:03PM
The Fifth Avenue Elevated Railway, owned by the Brooklyn-Manhattan Transit Corporation (BMT), originated on Fulton Street before turning onto Atlantic and finally onto Fifth Avenue. Opened in 1889, it made stops along Fifth in Park Slope at St. Marks Avenue, Union Street, 3rd, 9th, 16th, and 20th Streets. It turned on to Third Avenue further afield, terminating at 65th Street.
A constant, rumbling, shadowy presence on the avenue for over fifty years, it was finally discontinued on May 31, 1940. The following day the bankrupt BMT was purchased for $175 million from the City of New York, which eventually conglomerated all the independently-run subway lines (IRT, IND, and BMT) into the modern-day Metropolitan Transportation Authority. Over the next several years, the MTA decided to focus their efforts underground and tore down the vast majority of the city's elevated rail lines. Fifth Avenue streetcars, in service since 1860, were discontinued and replaced by busses nine years later.
When the above photo was taken on the corner of Fifth Avenue and Seventh Street on November 5th, 1941, the elevated line's dismantling was well underway, and sunlight was finally returning to the avenue.
Today, literally no trace of the old Fifth Avenue El remains, and trees now dominate the airspace where trains once rumbled by.
Top photo: NYPL.org