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Remembering the Third Avenue El

The Third Avenue El ceased to operate in 1973, but still remains a part of New York City's history.

The IRT Third Avenue Line, commonly known as the Third Avenue El, was an elevated railway running from Lower Manhattan to the Bronx. Opened in 1878, it was originally operated by the Suburban Rapid Transit Company and later acquired by the Interborough Rapid Transit Company (IRT) and eventually became part of the New York subway system.

After the Second, Sixth and Ninth Avenue Els were demolished in the early 1940's, only the Third Avenue El remained, intended to stay in use until the Second Avenue Subway was built to replace it. Pressure to close the Third Avenue El from real estate interests soon followed.

The Third Avenue El was closed in sections from 1950 to 1973 starting with the closure of the South Ferry spur, which connected South Ferry to Chatham Square. The City Hall spur closed in 1953, which started at Park Row in Manhattan and then connected with the South Ferry spur at Chatham Square.

On May 12, 1955 the main portion of the line closed from Chatham Square all the way to East 149th Street in the Bronx, thus ending elevated line service in Manhattan.

In the 1960s, the remaining service in the Bronx was renamed the No. 8 line running from East 149th Street to Gun Hill Road until it closed in April 1973.

In the Bronx, the No. 8 was replaced by the Bx55 Limited bus only making the stops the former line made. The Bx55 was one of the first to have free transfers with the subway with the transfer points at the 3rd Avenue -; 149th Street and Gun Hill Road/White Plains Road stations. When free bus-to-subway transfers were introduced system-wide in 1997, the Bx55 lost this noteworthy status.

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