Warming up by the stove in a 1930s el station

Daniel R. Celentano depicts tired, weary commuters staying warm by waiting indoors for their train in “L Waiting Station.”

I couldn’t find the date, but I’d say it’s the late 1930s or early 1940s. I wonder what station we’re looking at? I love the wood floors and the man holding what must be a bucket of coal.


Pot belly stoves like that really existed in el stations, as this 1936 Berenice Abbott photo reveals. Looks warm and toasty, unlike most subway platforms in the wintertime.

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5 Responses to “Warming up by the stove in a 1930s el station”

  1. James Says:

    I grew up in Brooklyn in the 1930s and remember the stoves in the station wainting rooms. The stove depicted in the painting appears to be the focal point. The actual stoves and were much smaller and rounded like a “pot belly”. They were coal burners and threw great heat. They provided comfort from the wind in the wide open
    El stations.

    The line ran along Myrtle Avenue and turned at one point south towards Bed Sty. I do not recall the name of the branch but it ran along and above Grand Avenue about two blocks from my home.

    The line was demolished in the late 40s or early 50s and it was surprising to see the building along the line flooded with light.

  2. wildnewyork Says:

    Thanks James. One thing I love about this painting is that there’s no indication of whether it’s morning, afternoon, or nighttime. These folks waiting could be 9 to 5 commuters, or they could be coming home from the night shift somewhere or an evening out. They’re united by one factor: they all need to catch this train.

  3. Out Walking the Dog Says:

    Fascinating. The wood floors make it seem a tad gentler than today’s subway platforms, but equally crowded. The people waiting look much the same as today’s New Yorkers, despite their outfits. Some seem resigned, others impatient. Great find!

  4. wildnewyork Says:

    Thanks! Keep up your wonderful posts, OWTD.

  5. Three subway scenes from a 1930s painter | Ephemeral New York Says:

    […] city’s immigrant enclaves and beyond: festivals inspired by saints, laborers at work, and a coal stove keeping passengers warm as they wait for the train in an El […]

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