Poor 11th Avenue. About a century ago, this unpretty stretch along Manhattan’s West Side, surrounded by factories and warehouses from Chelsea through midtown, also had train tracks on its surface to accommodate the New York Central freight line.
Problem was, cars, carriages, and pedestrians often found themselves in the way of the freight trains, earning 11th Avenue the colorful moniker “death avenue.”
To warn vehicles and people away from oncoming trains, a group of men on horseback called the West Side Cowboys rode ahead of the trains, waving a flag.
But not everyone paid attention—note the guy in white crossing in front of a train in this undated Bain News Service photo.
After years of community group and city pressure, the tracks were torn up in the 1930s. They were replaced by the High Line, which picked up its last shipment from one of the avenue’s factories in 1980.