The suicide hotspot of an uptown el train station

It was the tallest peak of the entire New York City subway during the early 20th century: a sharp curve along the Ninth Avenue elevated line where the tracks suddenly switched over to Eighth Avenue at 110th Street.

Suicidecurve110thstpostcard

This S-curve, part of the original 19th century elevated system, practically hugged the tenements that were eventually built around it; the motorman had to slow the train drastically to navigate the curve.

Suicidecurve110thstreetBut it also has a grim distinction: it was nicknamed “suicide curve” because of the high number of jumpers who leapt to their deaths there.

A 1925 New York Times article marks the eighth suicide from the tracks.

“Climbing over the guard rail on the platform of the 110th Street station of the Sixth and Ninth Avenue elevated trains at 2 o’clock yesterday afternoon, Henry Milch, 44 years old, of 715 West 175th Street, committed suicide by throwing himself from the structure. . . .”

“His body struck the pavement at the corner of 110th Street and Manhattan Avenue, within a few feet of a group of children at play in Morningside Park.”

A 1927 Times piece notes that local merchants felt all the jumpers were killing their business.

Suicidecurve110thst1905According to a merchant association official, “there were eleven suicides from that station in the past year, and the effect has been such that potential customers prefer to walk a little further rather than risk seeing a person hurtle from above.”

The merchants asked that mesh screens be placed around the sides of the station. Apparently this never happened, but the problem was solved when the el tracks there were dismantled in 1940.

The Central Park Reservoir was another suicide hotspot for New Yorkers in the first decades of the 20th century.

And the Empire State Building has always attracted the despondent and dramatic.

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One Response to “The suicide hotspot of an uptown el train station”

  1. mykola (mick) dementiuk Says:

    There’s a S curve on the Chicago elevated, not too far from the downtown section. Used to sit and watch it from my hotel room and man those curves were scary each time a train screeched through. No wonder NY destroyed the tracks.

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