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Friday, October 18, 2013

Of Horsecars, Extinct New York Streets: The East Belt Line

Source: "East Belt Line" by B.Linder in "The Bulletin", New York Division, Electric Railroaders' Association, Vol. 46, No. 11, November, 2003, pp. 2-5.

  The information provided by Bernard Linder (op. cit.) tells us about a very long horse car line whose running time in 1888 was two hours and 16 minutes.  The exact starting date is not known but it was known that in 1869,   the line ran from South Ferry to East 59th Street and Fifth Avenue and was called the East Belt Line.  It was extended several times including west to West 54th Street and Tenth Avenue and in 1898 to East 125th Street and First Avenue.  In 1913, partial battery car operation was from East 59th Street to Grand Street.  On July 1913, the last horse car ran and the line was fully battery car operated.  In 1914, the line was divided into two parts; South Ferry to Grand and Goerck Street and Grand and Goerck Streets to East 59th Street and First Avenue.  In 1917 the line was again through routed and on June 3, 1919, after a cutback, the line was discontinued.  The line was one of the first to go in Manhattan and was never conduit operated.  Parts of the line ran in commercial districts where trucks  were used.  These heavy trucks damaged the tracks and the Third Avenue Railway could not afford to renew or upgrade the tracks to conduit operation.  Also the heavy trucking operation on many of  the streets caused running time to be slow and thus was not attractive to passengers.

  Goerck Street:  Where did I hear it before?  My father mentioned Goerck Street that existed in the lower east side, along with other strange streets such as Attorney Street.   According to the article above, the following streets on the attached map are no longer "on the map":  Cannon Street, Goerck Street, Corlears Street, Front Street, Oliver Street, James Slip and Burling Street.  Many of the old time lower east side streets were destroyed when urban renewal replaced these streets with new parks,  housing developments and highways.  Goerck Street kind of sounds nice.


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