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Under the El: 1944

Under the El: 1944

July 1944. New York. "Under the Third Avenue IRT elevated train line, looking north at East 58th Street." Color transparency by Andreas Feininger for Life magazine. View full size.

On Shorpy:
Today’s Top 5

Film type

Can anyone answer to what the transparency type is? Doesn't quite look like Kodachrome?

Let's take a ride . . .

. . . on The 3rd Avenue El.

No free lunch, but close

Over on the right, in the year I was born, Joey Heong's* Chop Suey restaurant offered lunch for 40 cents, dinner for 55 cents. Last night, my better half and I enjoyed a sumptuous dinner of egg flower soup followed by plates laden with pork chow mein, almond chicken and sweet and sour pork, plus a pot of fresh tea, for $13 each, not counting tax and tip. (First time we've dined out in more than a year.)

I can't recall seeing "chop suey" on a restaurant or menu since I was in high school. I don't miss that at all, but a meal for less than $1 — sigh — that I do miss.

* I'm guessing at the first letter of Joey's last name; it was hard to make out.

Let us not forget

that Chicago still has some of these over the streets down in the loop. The loop being named after them. I still like them, and don't mind a bit of screeching when the trains turn corners.

Well crafted

I'm impressed by the resolution, depth of field, and the exposure latitude in this image. It's hard to expose for full sunlight and full shade in the same scene on film. You almost always end up with black shadows where no detail is visible or overexposed bright spots where the same is true.

Sometimes you can make it a bit better in the print, but this is a transparency, so what you take is what you get.

Feininger has done a perfect job on this shot.

[We have much more control over the finished image with a transparency than with a darkroom print. We can adjust scanner settings and do post-scan adjustments in Photoshop to bring out shadow detail, as was done here. - Dave]

A Photographer's Dream

There hasn't been dappled sunlight mixed with interesting shadows like that on the streets of the city since the Els disappeared, much to the chagrin of urban photographers.

Detective Jimmy Popeye Doyle approves

All that's missing here is a battered up '71 brown Pontiac barreling down the street at 80 mph dodging baby carriages.

How Fashions Have Changed

Ladies in dresses. Everyone in hats. Not a single pair of shorts or baseball cap to be seen.

Beauty is in the Eye

I never thought this about Boston's Washington Street Elevated (demolished in 1987), but there's something beautiful about the Third Avenue El.

Its reason? It's simple

From the retired pedant: a logical explanation why the possessive of it is its, not it's, is:

--HIS not hi's or his' or his's
--HERS not her's (though I've seen that one)
--ITS

[Let's not forget the classic your's. - Dave]

Big Wheel

Whoever owned that '38 Buick approaching from the right must have been a well-connected bigshot. Whitewall tires, production of which had been banned by the federal government in April 1941, in the interest of preserving strategic materials, were nearly impossible for ordinary folks to obtain during the war.

A Gallery of It's Own

Third Avenue L could have it's own gallery.

Here's one of my favorites

[This is an excellent opportunity to investigate the difference between its and it's. It's = "it is" or "it has." It's a nice day = It is a nice day. It's been fun = It has been fun. For anything else (i.e., the third-person singular possessive pronoun), we *never* use an apostrophe. - Dave]

Rails Rule

It just amazes me that in New York City these main thoroughfares had the elevated trains and streetcars running right down the middle of the street.

RKO 58th St.

A good history of the theatre can be found here. I’m dreaming of going to the movies after looking at the photo below.

Enjoy? it while it lasts

The El, the street rails and the brick pavers would all be gone within a dozen years or so, taking most of the street's character with them.

Hard to believe

I lived near here. Are you telling me that there was once a clanking, screeching elevated subway line running right down the middle of Third Avenue? Nonsense!

A little research shows that there was indeed a third avenue rail line starting in 1886, becoming the triple-tracked, double-decked IRT Third Avenue Line from 1917 to 1955.

Who knew?

Thanks, Shorpy!

What the 'ell?

Amazing what transportation has gone though over the years! From horse pucky to streetcars to this monstrosity! Must've been a real annoyance to people and horses - oh, no horses at this time.

Subways must've been a relief for pedestrians.

I just cannot imagine living in a city like that.

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