Posts Tagged ‘Jefferson market’

The end of the Sixth Avenue El

February 7, 2009

This photo was taken in 1939, just after the el was dismantled. Imagine how grimy and dark Sixth Avenue must have been with trains constantly roaring overhead and the tracks and stations blocking out sunlight.


Plenty more has changed at the intersection of Sixth Avenue, Greenwich Avenue, Ninth Street, and Christopher Street in the ensuing 70 years. Sixth Avenue traffic no longer flows two ways. The Women’s House of Detention was torn down and turned into a lovely garden. Nedick’s hot dogs is now a Barnes & Noble.

And there’s now a traffic island in the middle of the intersection—making things even more chaotic and confusing for pedestrians and drivers alike.

John Sloan and the Sixth Avenue El

November 10, 2008

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

“A bit of the old Sixth Avenue El…”

April 20, 2008

Sixth Avenue must have been awfully dark and grimy back in the days of the hulking El. This photo is from 1938. The Jefferson Market clock building and Bigelow’s are still there, of course. But the hideous Women’s House of Detention met the wrecking ball in 1974. 

The Sixth Avenue El was dismantled in 1939 and sold as scrap metal to the Japanese, who supposedly melted it into ammo during World War II. Hence the great e.e. cummings anti-war line, “It took a nipponized bit of the old Sixth Avenue El, in the top of his head, to tell him.” The full poem is here.