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Our holdings include hundreds of glass and film negatives/transparencies that we've scanned ourselves; in addition, many other photos on this site were extracted from reference images (high-resolution tiffs) in the Library of Congress research archive. (To query the database click here.) They are adjusted, restored and reworked by your webmaster in accordance with his aesthetic sensibilities before being downsized and turned into the jpegs you see here. All of these images (including "derivative works") are protected by copyright laws of the United States and other jurisdictions and may not be sold, reproduced or otherwise used for commercial purposes without permission.

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Third and Houston: 1910

Third and Houston: 1910

Elevated tracks in New York circa 1910. "Third Avenue 'L' at Houston Street." View full size. 5x7 glass negative, George Grantham Bain Collection.

On Shorpy:
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Third rail

Third rail on the Els did not have coverboard like the IRT subway and most later systems. The third rail shoes were located above the rail and bore straight down on it unlike the subway type that pivots off the truck frame. Chicago transit still uses that system.

As rebuilt circa 1915

The original line here from 1878 was two single-track structures over the curb line, leaving most of the street open to the sky. Many old postcards and stereoviews show the structure in that state. This shows the rebuild as a three-track elevated over the middle of the street, which was done in 1914 or 1915.

Third rail

There is most definitely a third rail there. It's easy to miss because the wooden guard rails block the view of the support chairs.

I work around third rail to this day, so I literally HAVE to know how to look for it!

No Third rail?

Perhaps you missed it. The 3rd Avenue El was electrified in 1903 when it was leased to the IRT.

No third rail?

No third rail -- so not electrically powered?


What an incredible picture. The "sky" makes this one great.

SHORPY HISTORICAL PHOTO ARCHIVE | History in HD is a vintage photo archive featuring thousands of high-definition images from the 1850s to 1960s. (Available as fine-art prints from the Shorpy Archive.) The site is named after Shorpy Higginbotham, a teenage coal miner who lived 100 years ago.

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