New York Railways Company - Background - Prior To Incorporation in 1911

Prior To Incorporation in 1911

The first streetcars in Manhattan - and in the world - were the horse cars of the New York and Harlem Railroad, which began operations on the Bowery on November 26, 1832. By the end of 1865, Manhattan had eleven north-south lines on most of the major avenues, and several crosstown lines, operated by twelve companies. This number had increased to about twenty companies by 1886, with only two leases in effect at the time: the One Hundred and Twenty-fifth Street Railroad to the Third Avenue Railroad (1870) and the Bleecker Street and Fulton Ferry Railroad to the Twenty-third Street Railway (1876).

A group of Philadelphia businessmen headed by Peter A. B. Widener, Thomas Dolan, and William L. Elkins incorporated the Metropolitan Traction Company in New Jersey on February 19, 1886. This holding company immediately started acquiring the Manhattan street railways, starting by buying the Broadway and Seventh Avenue Railroad, Houston, West Street and Pavonia Ferry Railroad, and Chambers Street and Grand Street Ferry Railroad in June 1886, forming a system of three north-south and two crosstown lines. Added to this system were the South Ferry Railroad in January 1889, the Twenty-third Street Railway in March 1890, the Broadway Railway in October 1890, and the Metropolitan Cross-Town Railway in March 1891.

A new Metropolitan Traction Company of New York, with almost twice the capitalization of the old company, took over on August 4, 1892, and continued to buy railroads: the Central Park, North and East River Railroad (minority interest) in August 1892, the Forty-second Street and Grand Street Ferry Railroad in March 1893, the Thirty-fourth Street and Eleventh Avenue Railroad in April 1893, the Columbus and Ninth Avenue Railroad and Lexington Avenue and Pavonia Ferry Railroad in May 1893, the Fulton Street Railroad in October 1895, the Twenty-eighth and Twenty-ninth Streets Crosstown Railroad in September 1896, and the Central Crosstown Railroad (which had leased the Christopher and Tenth Street Railroad in 1890) in May 1897.

The Traction Company also began leasing its subsidiaries to each other, starting with the leases to the Houston, West Street and Pavonia Ferry Railroad of the Broadway and Seventh Avenue Railroad (May 13, 1890), the Chambers Street and Grand Street Ferry Railroad (January 31, 1891), and the Twenty-third Street Railway, including its lease of the Bleecker Street and Fulton Ferry Railroad (April 25, 1893). Two companies not owned by the Traction Company - the Sixth Avenue Railroad and Ninth Avenue Railroad - were leased to the Houston on February 1 and March 12, 1892. The minority-owned Central Park, North and East River Railroad and majority-owned Forty-second Street and Grand Street Ferry Railroad were leased to not only the Houston, but also the Metropolitan Cross-Town Railway, on October 14, 1892 and April 6, 1893. The Houston merged with the Broadway Railway and South Ferry Railroad on December 12, 1893, forming the Metropolitan Street Railway Company. That company was merged with the Lexington Avenue and Pavonia Ferry Railroad and Metropolitan Cross-Town Railway on May 28, 1894, creating a second company with the same name, and a third Metropolitan Street Railway was formed on November 12, 1895, when it was merged with the Columbus and Ninth Avenue Railroad. The Metropolitan leased two other non-owned lines: the Eighth Avenue Railroad on November 23, 1895 and the New York and Harlem Railroad (City Line) on June 11, 1896. On September 16, 1897, the Metropolitan Traction Company, which had acquired most of Manhattan's street railways, was dissolved, the stock being transferred to the Metropolitan Street Railway. That company signed operating agreements with the Fulton Street Railroad on February 19, 1896 and the Thirty-fourth Street Crosstown Railway (which had been formed in March 1896 by a merger of the Thirty-fourth Street and Eleventh Avenue Railroad with its lessor, the Thirty-fourth Street Railroad) on December 21, 1896, and acquired a lease on the Second Avenue Railroad on January 28, 1898.

The only remaining company was the Third Avenue Railroad, which had built up its own system through ownership and leases. Among the company's lines were two crosstown lines on 42nd Street and 125th Street, two north-south lines on Third Avenue and Broadway, the entire street railway network of the Bronx, and a number of lines in Westchester County. The great cost of electrifying its lines brought it to bankruptcy in 1900, and the Metropolitan acquired a majority of its stock in March of that year and leased it on April 13. With this acquisition, the Metropolitan had complete control of the street railways of Manhattan and the Bronx.

The Interurban Street Railway Company was incorporated on November 25, 1901 to take over the bankrupt North Mount Vernon Street Railway. The Interurban leased the overcapitalized and water-logged Metropolitan on February 14, 1902, and the newly-formed Metropolitan Securities Company acquired the stock of the Interurban, which itself took over the stock of many of the Metropolitan's subsidiaries. The Interurban's name was changed to the New York City Railway Company on February 10, 1904. The Metropolitan leased the Central Crosstown Railroad, which it had owned - and through it the Christopher and Tenth Street Railroad - on February 8, 1904. On November 1, 1905, when the Fort George and Eleventh Avenue Railroad - controlled by the Metropolitan since its incorporation in 1898 - opened its line on 145th Street, it entered into an operating agreement with the New York City Railway.

The New York City Interborough Railway began operating street railways in the Bronx and Upper Manhattan on May 31, 1906, feeding the stations of the Interborough Rapid Transit Company, which controlled it. Prior to this, in January 1906, the Interborough and Metropolitan agreed to consolidate their holdings, and the Interborough-Metropolitan Company was incorporated on January 24 and acquired a majority of the stock of the Interborough Rapid Transit Company, Metropolitan Street Railway, and Metropolitan Securities Company. The Panic of 1907 toppled the system, and on September 24, 1907 the New York City Railway entered receivership.

After entering receivership, New York City Railway's leases and operating agreements were canceled and their properties were turned over to the receivers of the subsidiaries in 1908:

  • Third Avenue Railroad and its large system on January 12
  • Metropolitan Street Railway on August 1
  • Central Park, North and East River Railroad in August,
  • Twenty-eighth and Twenty-ninth Streets Crosstown Railroad on October 1,
  • Second Avenue Railroad in 1910.
  • The Fulton Street Railroad was abandoned on June 1, 1908.

The remaining Metropolitan Street Railway lines were operated by the receivers until January 1, 1912, when they were turned over to the Interborough Consolidated Corporation-controlled

Read more about this topic:  New York Railways Company, Background

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