Routes of the Interborough Rapid Transit Company.

Lithograph, stone engraving, 1909.
Paper size 89 1/2 x 29 1/4" (227.3 x 74.3 cm).
Fair to good condition. Several tears and some losses all skillfully repaired. Items of this nature are almost impossible to locate in any condition.
LOCATION: New York City

Inventory Number: 93888
Price: $19,500.00
Publisher : Copyright, 1909, by Rand McNally & Co.
An amazing cartographic image of New York City a little over a decade after the consolidation agreement created the greater city of New York out of Manhattan, Brooklyn, the Bronx, Queens, and Staten Island. The Manhattan Bridge route is shown, but the bridge is not yet on the map. It was under construction and would not open to the public until 1912. Aside from showing the original subway and elevated transport system including all the stops, this map also shows the complete street grid of Manhattan and portions of the Bronx, Brooklyn, Queens, and nearby sections of New Jersey. What is apparent when one looks at the image is that lower Manhattan is full of docks. The rail yards are all over New Jersey with several on Manhattan and on Long Island. The High Line is not shown. It opened for freight rail traffic in 1934. When it was built, it raised the tracks above the street eliminating 105 street-level crossings. This was part of a larger project called the West Side Improvement Project. It was conceived by Robert Moses and included building the West Side Highway, the High Line viaduct, and expanding Riverside Park. In 1929 it had an immense budget of $150,000,000.

This map is very rare and is most likely a job printing by Rand McNally & Co. for the Interborough Rapid Transit Company. It is possible that this map was put in stations for patrons to see what routes were available. However, if this were the case, one would expect to find more impressions. It is also possible it was done for the board of the IND. There is a map of the IND system from 1924 that is in many collections, but it is much smaller.

All major cities have an issue with moving people efficiently. In Manhattan, the first rapid transit companies were private investments by individuals. Abraham Brower created the first official public transportation route in 1827. It consisted of a twelve seat stagecoach that ran along Broadway from the Battery to Bleecker Street. He expanded service quickly to other routes. In 1831, John Mason, a wealthy banker and president of Chemical Bank, organized the New York and Harlem Railroad Company. He hired John Stephenson to design the railroad on the east side of Manhattan. The track was laid and the horse-drawn streetcars went into service in November 1832. Service and routes continued to expand through the 1850’s, and initially, it was all horse-drawn carriages. In 1837 steam engines were introduced, but they could only be used outside heavily settled areas. At the time, that was north of 23rd Street. In 1854 the city passed an ordinance that no steam trains could travel below 42nd Street. In 1864 Cornelius Vanderbilt purchased the railroad and consolidated it with the Hudson River Railroad to form the New York Central and Hudson River Railroad.

The first elevated built in Manhattan was the Ninth Avenue elevated. It opened for operation on July 1, 1868. It was an experimental railway run on a cable system in a loop from Battery Place to Cortland Street. Although deemed a success, the system was full of problems: mechanical and legal. It was expanded to 29th Street with goals to Spuyten Duyvil. It closed in 1870 and was sold at auction for $960. In 1871 the transit commissioners granted permission for the Ninth Avenue Elevated to use steam trains and on April 20, 1871, steam train service began on the Ninth Avenue Elevated with two stops: Dey Street and 29th Street. A few months later the new company defaulted on its mortgages and the company was reorganized. In 1872 the New York Elevated Railroad Company took over the operation. Steam engines were used until electrical operation began in 1903.

The second elevated built in Manhattan was the Sixth Avenue elevated. Gilbert Elevated Railway Company was given permission to construct the Sixth Avenue Elevated. The Rapid Transit Commission in 1875 granted permission for the Gilbert Elevated Railway Company to develop an elevated railway on Second Avenue. After the Gilbert Elevated Railway Company was given permission to develop the Second Avenue Elevated, it changed its name to the Metropolitan Elevated Railway Company. When it was completed, the Sixth Avenue Elevated ran from Rector Street up Church Street, west on Murray Street, north on West Broadway, west on Third Street, and then north on Sixth Avenue to 59th Street. After 1881 trains going north of Central Park cut over and ran on the Ninth Avenue line. Around 1880 the Manhattan Railway Company took over operations of the Metropolitan Elevated Railway Company. At that point, one company ran the four elevated trains in Manhattan.

The Sixth Avenue elevated was both loved and hated. It was the only elevated running in the middle of the city, and it was used in art by many artists of the era. The merchants and the landowners, however, were not so pleased. Elevated trains were noisy and very dirty; depressed land values; and often stopped people from frequenting those avenues. Jasper F. Cropsey was hired to design the stations along the mid-town section of the Sixth Avenue Elevated.

In 1875 the Gilbert Elevated Railway Company was given permission to construct the Second Avenue Elevated between Battery Park and the Harlem River along Second Avenue. Soon afterward it changed its name to the Metropolitan Elevated Railway Company. The route did not go to Battery Park but instead stopped at City Hall. When it met the Third Avenue in Chatham Square, it created an impressive double-deck railway. This is shown in many images of the era. Service north of 57th Street ended in 1940; the remainder of the line closed in June 1942.

The New York Elevated Railway Company was given the right to develop an elevated railway on Third Avenue from Battery Part to the Harlem River in 1875. The route would run along Bowery and Third Avenue. It opened operations on August 26, 1878, with service from South Ferry to Grand Central Depot, expanding quickly to 129th Street. The Manhattan Railway Company took over the New York Elevated Railroad in 1879. Suburban Rapid Transit Company in 1886 built a swing bridge and ran service from 129th Street into the Bronx. Manhattan Railway took over the service in 1891. The line and its service were turned over to the IRT in 1903. The Third Avenue Elevated was the last elevated train to operate in Manhattan. The system was demolished in sections starting in South Ferry in 1950 and in 1955 the main portion closed between Chatham Square and 149th Street in the Bronx.

Planning for the first subway began in 1894 with the creation of the Board of Rapid Transit Railroad Commissioners. They were either to build or franchise the construction and lease it to a private operating company. Contract 1 was signed in February 1900 giving the Rapid Transit Construction Company the right to build the first subway in Manhattan. The contract retained ownership of the line but granted a fifty-year lease to the Rapid Transit Construction Company. Ground was broken in March 1900 at City Hall. In January 1901 Contract 2 was signed to develop a route between the Atlantic Terminal in Brooklyn and City Hall with a thirty-five year lease to the Rapid Transit Construction Company.

The Rapid Transit Construction Company was organized by John B. McDonald and funded by financier August Belmont, Jr. Belmont also built Belmont Park and was a major owner and breeder of thoroughbred horses. After the signing of Contract 2 August Belmont created the Interborough Rapid Transit Company to service both contracts and in 1903 took over the service contracts of Manhattan Railway giving the Interborough Rapid Transit Company the four operating elevated trains and the newly developing subway. In March 1913 dual contracts were signed giving two companies operating rights - the Interborough Rapid Transit Company and the Brooklyn Rapid Transit Company promising expanded service in Manhattan’s west side and in Brooklyn.

The IRT went into receivership in 1940 and the City of New York purchased the assets in June 1940.

Brooklyn Rapid Transit Company became insolvent in 1919, and when it came out of bankruptcy in 1923, it was known as the Brooklyn-Manhattan Transit Corporation (BMT).