Routes of the Interborough Rapid Transit Company.

Multi-color stone engraving, 1929.
Image size 16 1/8 x 28 1/4" (41 x 72 cm).
Good condition and color. Some short tears in lower margin, well away from image.
LOCATION: New York City

Inventory Number: 100295
Price: $1,350.00
Publisher : Published by the Interborough Rapid Transit Company.
An amazing cartographic image of New York City showing the routes and stations of the IRT.

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 extend 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.

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.

This map is scarce and is most likely a job printing by Hagstrom Map Company for the Interborough Rapid Transit Company. It is possible that this map was put in stations for patrons to see what routes were available. Noted on this map are Ebbets Field in Brooklyn, The Polo Grounds in upper Manhattan and Yankee Stadium in the Bronx.