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Tuesday, August 7, 2012

3rd Avenue El Video by Roger Arcara: Chatham Sq to Gun Hill Road Bronx

Roger Arcara film of the 3rd Avenue El (L-5) : Chatham Square to Gun Hill Road (1953-1955)  Film includes last day filmage on May 12, 1955.

    This great video, close to an hour in length, is narrated by the late transportation historian, Roger Arcara, and shows the last days of the 3rd Avenue El from 1953 to 1955.  The film covers the section of the el from Chatham Square to Gun Hill Road in the Bronx only because the South Ferry and City Hall branches ceased service in 1950.
   This video covers the 3rd Avenue El differently than the other video posted or newsreel type of films of the era because the subject matter is covered from a railfan point of view.  You will get to see:
  1. Express station layouts, such as 42nd Street and types of signals.
  2. 125 th Street station and northern trackage.
  3. 129 th Street station and complex and trackage to the 2nd Avenue Bridge.
  4. You will get to see the two layer bridge over the Harlem River from all angles.
  5. You will see the New York and New Haven and Hartford yard with freight cars and you will see the still existing track to the yard with a coal car on it.  According to Mr. Arcara, delivery of coal to the 3rd Avenue El for the stations' pot belly stoves was made by way of the NYNHandH RR connection right to the end. You will see this about 36 minutes into the film.
  6. You will see trackage that is not shown that much on such films, such as the two layer private right of way trackage north of 133 Street and south of the 149th Street station.
  7. You will see the old configuration of the 149 Street - 3 rd Avenue station.
  8. You will get to see lesser shown trackage in the Bronx north of the 149th Street station and abandoned cut off stubs south of the station.
Bronx historians, both transit and and other will get much information from this film. Multi shots from northbound and southbound trains will be shown from the same location.  Service patterns in terms of which local and express services used a particular track is explained in detail.  There is so much here that it has to be shared paticularly about the section around and north of the Harlem River.

Tramway Null(0)


  1. I noted that, pulling into the 42nd St. upper level express station, there were passengers waiting on both sides. Was that normal? Did they open doors on both sides of express trains at 42nd St.?

  2. Hi Ed:
    Thanks for your question. I found Roger's video very helpful because I myself was not familar with Manhattan El "hump" express stations. They were also found on the Ninth Avenue El as well. Perhaps someone out there has an answer. My NY Division "Bulletin" archive is not indexed so that it will take some time to see what I come across. Some of features of the Bulletin discusses service patterns. I'll see what I can dig up during the weekend but perhaps a reader knows the answer now.
    Tramway Null(0)