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The Ninth Avenue El was New York City’s first transit line and the first elevated railroad in the country that operated in a city. It began with only two stations downtown shortly after the Civil War in 1867. After suffering through many early problems, it attracted substantial investors, including Samuel J. Tilden, Cyrus Field, Russell Sage, and Jay Gould. By 1879, the line extended to the northern end of Ninth Avenue at 110th Street, then east to Eighth Avenue and north to 155th Street. Initially, the only stations in Bloomingdale were at 93rd and 104th Streets. The section along 110th Street that veered from Ninth Avenue to Eighth Avenue was more than 80 feet above the street and became known as “suicide curve”. Because it was more than 80 feet above the street, a stairway was deemed impractical, an so a station wasn’t installed until 1903 when the El was electrified.  


The Ninth Avenue El came down by 1940. As the story goes, the steel was sold to Japanese interests, just a short time before the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. You can find some of the old subway cars of the Ninth Avenue El in Camp Sanita Hills near Whaley Lake, not too far from Pawling, in Putnam County, New York. The New York City sanitation workers ran a camp for their workers and their families and had the foresight to adaptively re-use the Ninth Avenue subway cars as summer cottages.

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