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Monday, June 10, 2013

Columbus and Lenox Avenue Streetcar Line North and South Sections

Source:Linder, B. in New York Division Bulletin, Electric Railway Association, Vol. 32, Number 6, June, 1989, pp.2,4-5.

The Columbus and Lenox Avenue streetcar in Manhattan started its' life as a horsecar line in 1895 and for a short period, operated as a cable line.  Sections of the line were electrified by 1895 as well.  The line was replaced by buses on February 12, 1936.  The line was a long one.  The maps drawn by Bernard Linder are interesting because they show intersecting lines and the out of service dates of those lines in many cases.

   According to information provided on page three of the source sited above, different segments of the line were tested with different technologies.  For example, the Columbus Avenue portion of the line experiemented with cable power on December 8, 1894.  Full service was not complete until 1895 during which up to that time, a few horse cars operated on the line.  Experiments were held on the Lenox Avenue portion of line involving underground conduit.  The system used was based on a system visited in Budapest, Hungary and the conduit was modified for snow storms.  This system was designed with the capacity to convert back to cable if electricity proved to be a failure!    In December, 1896, a portion of the line was served by 10 older cars converted to compressed air.  These cars were able to handle the tasks that were handed to them in terms of high grades of 7.5% at 109th Street and short recharging times and the reheating of hot water.  When compressed air cools when it expands, hot water was needed to stop the mechanism from freezing.  Since this machinery was more complicated than that of electric components on electric cars, these cars were taken out of service.

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