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Wednesday, January 25, 2012

42nd Street Streetcar Track Map by B Linder

Manhattan Streetcars were very different from the system running in Brooklyn and elsewhere.  For start, most Manhattan streetcars got their power from an underground conduit in the middle of the two running rails.  Most Manhattan streetcars did not have trolley poles, although some that ran into the Bronx did.  Only short stretches of track in upper Manhattan had small segments of overhead trolley.  The track map for 42nd Street has its source listed on the map: New York Division, ERA, September 2002, Vol.45, No. 9, Page 4.  Map drawn by J. Erlitz from original data by B. Linder


  1. On a 1924 aerial photo I noticed this on 42nd St between 1st and 2nd Aves. Do you have any idea what it is or what it's for? It looks rather like a portal to a streetcar tunnel, but there's no sign of it on the above track maps, and also I don't know where it could lead.

  2. Hi threestationsquare:

    Your incline looks very strange. According to the streetcar maps that I looked at in the past, the only trolley tunnels in the area were at Park Avenue South and 34th Street and the trolley terminal near 2nd Avenue and the Queensboro Bridge. The Flushing Line to
    Queens was in operation by 1924 so I do not know if this incline was subway related. I do not see any tracks on the incline. I will try to investigate it next week but I did not see a tunnel reference at this spot in any of the B. Linder maps.


    Tramway Null(0)

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  4. The 7 train is 50 feet down at that point so I don't see how it could be subway related. This photo seems to have been taken from inside the tunnel, but does not clarify very much.

    Looking at the aerial photo again, I guess it's just the underpass under Tudor Place, which was and is at a much higher grade than First Ave. Thus both streetcars and other traffic must have used that incline to get to First Ave and the river.

  5. Hi threestationsquare:

    Thanks for your photo. I believe that you are on the right track regarding the Tudor Place underpass. The reason why I said that I do not think that it is subway related is because many years ago, a saw a photograph of the construction of the Broad Street Subway in Philadelphia. The picture appears to have been taken in the downtown area. In that picture, it shows a similar incline that is very roughly constructed leading into the subway. Of course, the Philadelphia subway on Broad Street is very shallow and near the surface. I am not sure, but I believe that there is an equipment room and a switch leading to the Steinway Tunnels near First Avenue? I do not believe that the incline, with a nice finished entrance would be related to this. Incidentally, I looked up an aerial photograph from 1924 of the Church Avenue Trolley Tunnel at Ocean Parkway and the shadow at both ends of the tunnel follows the pattern of your picture.
    I'm afraid I cannot help you more for now. Thanks for your submittal.

    Tramway Null(0)