John Sloan and the Sixth Avenue El

Greenwich Village resident and Ashcan School artist John Sloan depicted many scenes of early 20th century New York City life, and he seemed to have a special fondness for the old elevated trains that once criss-crossed the city’s avenues. 

He painted Jefferson Market in 1917, with the Sixth Avenue El in the foreground. The el is now gone and high-rises dot Sixth Avenue, but Jefferson Market itself looks largely the same today.


Sixth Avenue Elevated at Third Street is from 1928. There’s Jefferson Market again, in the distance.


The El ran from 59th Street and Sixth Avenue, abruptly snaked down West Third Street to West Broadway, then made its way to Rector Street. It was torn down in the 1930s, its fate referenced in an e.e. cummings poem

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10 Responses to “John Sloan and the Sixth Avenue El”

  1. Joe R Says:

    Hi Eph-
    According to the NY Songlines website, Sloan lived on W 23 Street, a block west of the Chelsea Hotel. I’ve seen on the web many of his drawings and paintings taken from this vantage point. One very interesting drawing shows people relaxing on the roof (in a pre-AC world, a popular thing to do on hot summer nights). In the distance you can make out the church on W 30 and the gigantic old Penn Station.
    I’ve read that he also had paintings of street scenes around the Chelsea Hotel but I haven’t found these.

  2. A decadent costume ball at Webster Hall « Ephemeral New York Says:

    […] 1933 poster, designed by painter and Village resident John Sloan, advertises an annual costume ball and carnival sponsored by the Artists & Writers Dinner Club, […]

  3. “Summer Electric Storm” « Ephemeral New York Says:

    […] may have been painted from his own apartment at 19 East Ninth Street. Bell, who studied under John Sloan at the Art Students League, liked to work from his rooftop, according to biographical information […]

  4. Shopping on Sixth Avenue and 14th Street « Ephemeral New York Says:

    […] By wildnewyork “Ashcan School” artist John Sloan really had a thing for the Sixth Avenue El. Several of his paintings depict the El at Third Street or Eighth Street; Jefferson Market […]

  5. A 19th century pickpocket fleeces New York City « Ephemeral New York Says:

    […] Later that year, she was caught stealing a pocketbook from a female shopper at Macy’s, then on West 14th Street (at left) and booked for theft at Jefferson Market Courthouse on Sixth Avenue. […]

  6. An “almost accurate” map of the Village in 1925 | Ephemeral New York Says:

    […] Place are in history’s dustbin. So is the speakeasy Club Fronton and the Sixth Avenue El, memorialized by John Sloan and e.e. […]

  7. An ode to the original Second Avenue subway | Ephemeral New York Says:

    […] the Sixth Avenue El, which was memorialized by poets and depicted by painters, the Second Avenue line didn’t get much […]

  8. Faces in the shadow of the Third Avenue El | Ephemeral New York Says:

    […] Six O’Clock, Winter gives us the scene under the Third Avenue El in 1912. (Not the Sixth Avenue El, the subject of some of his other […]

  9. Faces in the shadow of the Third Avenue El | Real Estate Marketplace Says:

    […] Sloan’s Six O’Clock, Winter gives us the scene under the Third Avenue El in 1912. (Not the Sixth Avenue El, the subject of some of his other […]

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