The Ninth Avenue El curving by Morningside Park

These are the tracks of the Ninth Avenue Elevated making an S curve beside Morningside Park—which is what this 1908 postcards says.

To my eyes, it’s difficult to recognize the park of 2017, which is one of the city’s least appreciated but most beautiful. (The bear and fawn statue, the rock formations, the turtles….sigh.)

Here’s a photo very similar to the image in the postcard. RIP Ninth Avenue El, which ceased operation in 1940.

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10 Responses to “The Ninth Avenue El curving by Morningside Park”

  1. Zoe Says:

    These must have looked so futuristic when they first apeared. In a sort of German Expressionism film way (rivets & soot & shadows etc.). Lol.

  2. Mark Says:

    Why is it so high above the street? It seems much higher than other elevated lines.

    • Edward Says:

      I think the street elevations had something to do with it. Instead of having the el rise and fall with the differing street levels in this part of town (which would have created some steep grades for trains to go up and down on) they tried to keep the tracks at an even level. This particular “S” curve was also known as “Suicide Curve” since a few despondent people jumped from the 100 foot high structure.

  3. Dave Says:

    I love Morningside Park, but my most vivid memory of it is of one of my fellow college ultimate frisbee players diving to catch a disc and landing on the shattered remains of a hypo. Today I think he’s the medical director at a big dot-com, so it turned out all right…

  4. David Lippman Says:

    “Dead Man’s Curve” at 110th Street was interesting…the s-curve that went through the 110th Street Station from Columbus Avenue to 8th Avenue. The buildings on Columbus Avenue that had to be built in curved shapes to accommodate the El are still there, I believe, while the station at 110 and 8th Avenue outlasted the El by about 30 years. It’s gone now.

    It was called “Dead Man’s Curve” because would-be suicides would go up there to end it all.

    • Edward Says:

      The curved buildings at 110th St (Cathedral Pkwy) and Columbus Ave are indeed still there. Take a look at the intersection on Google Maps (satellite view) and you can see them on the SE corner. A smaller set of commercial “taxpayers” were constructed in front of the taller apt houses after the el was demolished.

      • David H Lippman Says:

        I’m very glad to hear that the buildings are still there…they’re an interesting piece of New York history.

  5. Jeremy Says:

    Amazing that this the 9th ave line was likely the very first effort at a systematized city transit system attempt anywhere in America. Started in 1868 – and originally propelled with cables with engines tucked away in the buildings running alongside. This was a long time ago, granted not as progressive as Londons 1863 tubes but quite something for the new upstart city.

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