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Page 8

The Inadequacy of
Rapid Transit in Queens

All rapid transit lines entering Queens were "insufficient, inadequate,and over-taxed," including the Second Avenue el branch. Crowding was so bad, that the thought of eliminating one of these vital lines must have been horrifying. The problem really was that Queens had totally inadequate transit facilities -- a situation that the resolution calls "the Borough's transit problem." Queens' population had been growing rapidly, yet only three rapid transit lines were dedicated to the geographically large Borough -- the two IRT lines already mentioned, and a new IND subway along Queens Boulevard. There was BMT service to Middle Village and Jamaica and nearby Liberty Avenue, and the IRT's line on Livonia Avenue, but these were extensions of routes primarily intended to service Brooklyn.

As the city laid its plans in 1940 to demolish the Second Avenue el, civic associations in Queens mounted a vocal, well-organized opposition campaign. In February 1940 these organizations sent a resolution to city politicians and members of the New York State Transit Commission, in opposition to the demolition of the el. The resolution read as follows:

WHEREAS, the Manhattan Railway Company has on January 25 th , 1940 sold, pursuant to an order of foreclosure, its properties, including the structure and equipment of the Second Avenue El; and

WHEREAS, this sale is a step in the unification program contemplated by the City of New York and under which the City of New York proposes to demolish the said Second Avenue El; and

WHEREAS, this present facility is used daily by thousands of commuters and residents of the Borough of Queens, taking them to and from that Borough to the other Boroughs of the City of New York; and

WHEREAS, the present rapid transit facilities in the Borough of Queens, including the Second Avenue El, are insufficient, inadequate and over-taxed because of the rapid growth of the Borough's population, and the curtailment or elimination of any of the present facilities, including the Second Avenue El, will greatly interfere with, impede and seriously complicate the Borough's transit problem; and

NOW THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED, that the undersigned organization does hereby petition his Honor the Mayor and the Honorable Members of the Board of Estimate, to cease, desist and refrain from demolishing or discontinuing the transit service on the Second Avenue El until such time as the City can provide an alternative or adequate substitute for this line; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that copies of this resolution be sent to the officials herein enumerated, as well as to the Honorable Members of the Transit Commission.

The text of this resolution reveals how important the Second Avenue el, and its corresponding Queensboro Bridge connection, were to Queens.

Chatham Sq. With the 2nd and 3rd Avenue Els

Same scene as on page 7, but a little farther north and a year or so later. Workmen stand on the roof of the 2nd Avenue El's new station, ay right. At this time, 2nd Avenue trains could go only to South Ferry on the 3rd's trackage, but not to City Hall.

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Updated Tuesday, June 26, 2001

©2001 Alexander Nobler Cohen. ©2001 The Composing Stack Inc. All rights reserved