129th Street (IRT Third Avenue Line)

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 129th Street
Former New York City Subway station
Station statistics
Address 129th Street between Second and Third Avenues
New York, NY 10035[1]
Borough Manhattan
Locale East Harlem
Coordinates 40°48′21″N 73°55′59″W / 40.80583°N 73.93306°W / 40.80583; -73.93306Coordinates: 40°48′21″N 73°55′59″W / 40.80583°N 73.93306°W / 40.80583; -73.93306
Division A (IRT)
Services IRT Second Avenue Line
IRT Third Avenue Line
IRT Willis Avenue Spur
Structure Elevated
Platforms 4 island platforms
Tracks 9
Other information
Opened December 30, 1878; 139 years ago (December 30, 1878)
Closed June 11, 1940; 78 years ago (June 11, 1940) (2nd Ave.)
July 1, 1950; 68 years ago (July 1, 1950) (3rd Ave.)
Station succession
Next north 133rd Street (3rd Ave.)
Terminal (2nd Ave.)
Willis Avenue (Willis Ave.)
Next south 125th Street (3rd Ave.)
125th Street (2nd Ave.)

129th Street was a massive station on the IRT Third Avenue Line, shared by trains of both the Third Avenue Line and IRT Second Avenue Line in the New York City Subway system. The next stop to the north was 133rd Street for the main line and Willis Avenue for the Willis Avenue spur, both of which were across a swing bridge above the Harlem River in The Bronx. The next stop to the south was 125th Street−Third Avenue for Third Avenue Line trains and 125th Street−Second Avenue for Second Avenue Line trains.[2]

Station layout[edit]

A diagram of the 129th Street station (top right) and the approaches to the Harlem River bridge, with the flyover express tracks shown in dotted lines.

The station was located between Second and Third Avenues, oriented west-to-east above and on the south side of 129th Street.[2] The station was double-decked, with four island platforms for passengers and numerous tracks.[1][2][3] The northernmost platform was used by shuttle service via the Willis Avenue Spur to Willis Avenue station, connecting to the New York, New Haven and Hartford Railroad. The next platform south was for through-service from the Third Avenue Line to and from the Bronx. The southern two island platforms were used for terminating trains, specifically those of the Second Avenue Line and some local Third Avenue trains. The Second Avenue Line fed into the southernmost platform, while the Third Avenue Line fed into both terminal platforms. All four platforms featured shelters.[1][2][4][5][6][7] The platforms were connected by a covered bridge.[1] A bi-directional flyover express track from the Third Avenue El bypassed the station.[2][6] Adjacent to the south of the station was a storage yard, extending south to 128th Street.[2][3][8] An additional side platform was located at the north end of the yard, used only by employees.[2] North of the station, Third Avenue, Willis Avenue, and Second Avenue trains (the latter of which came from 125th Street and bypassed 129th Street) would use the bi-level swing bridge at the north end of Second Avenue, crossing the Harlem River towards the Bronx.[2][6][9]

The exit to the station was located at Third Avenue and East 129th Street.[2] The station also served as the terminal for numerous streetcar routes from the Bronx.[3]


The station originally opened on December 30, 1878, as part of the extension of the Third Avenue Line north of 67th Street.[3][10] The station was originally a two-track island platform terminal located above Third Avenue.[1][11] It served as the original terminal for the line,[3] until it was extended across the Harlem River to the Bronx on May 17, 1886.[4][12] On November 25, 1886, the station gained a connection to the Willis Avenue Spur which took commuters to a terminal station in the Bronx that served commuters using the New York, New Haven and Hartford Railroad and later to the New York, Westchester and Boston Railway interurban lines.[4][13] This added a second platform oriented west-to-east for Willis Avenue trains, which was connected to the Third Avenue El platform.[11]

The Willis Avenue shuttle ended service on December 18, 1887,[2] but was restored on July 19, 1891.[4] On August 1, 1891, the New Haven began running rapid transit cars from 129th via the Willis Spur and the New York and Harlem Railroad (today's Harlem Line).[4] On August 15, 1898, a new and enlarged 129th Street station was opened between Second and Third Avenue. The 129th Street Yard was also opened at this time. Both the yard and station were constructed from 1886 to 1898. The original station was abandoned and eventually razed.[1][2] Around 1907, the IRT planned to add a bi-directional express track to both the Second and Third Avenue lines, and build a new double-decked bridge with four tracks over the Harlem River.[6] This was carried out during the Dual Contracts in the 1910s, adding 129th Street station's flyover express track. Express service began on January 17, 1916.[14][15] All service via the Willis Avenue Spur ended on April 14, 1924, when a pedestrian bridge was opened between the Willis Avenue and 133rd Street stations.[2][16]

The opening of the lines of the New York City Subway, particularly the IRT Lexington Avenue Line, in the early 20th Century led to declining ridership on the elevated lines.[3] The Els were also scapegoated for blight and urban ills in the surrounding neighborhoods.[14] The 129th Street station in particular had low ridership, due to its proximity to the busy 125th Street station. It was also criticized for its uninspired design compared to the other stations on the lines.[3] Following unification of the transit system under the city's Board of Transportation, the Second Avenue Line stopped serving the station on June 11, 1940 when it was closed north of 57th Street.[3][5][14][17] With reduced service and low ridership, the 129th Street station was closed prematurely on July 1, 1950. Passengers were redirected to the 125th Street station, while express trains between Manhattan and the Bronx bypassed the station.[3] The rest of the line south of 149th Street in the Bronx closed on May 12, 1955.[18] The site became part of Harlem River Park.[3]


  1. ^ a b c d e f "Through Trains To Tremont: The New Elevated Station Platforms at 129th Street Are Opened to Traffic" (PDF). The New York Times. August 15, 1898. Retrieved 23 October 2016. 
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l Kahn, Alan Paul (1973). The Tracks of New York Number 3: Manhattan and Bronx Elevated Railroads 1920. Seymour Durst, Electric Railroaders' Association. Retrieved 23 October 2016. 
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h i j "Fading 'El' Station Is Closing Tonight: 129th St. Stop on 3d Ave. Line to Be Razed for Bus Garage and Other Improvements" (PDF). The New York Times. June 30, 1950. Retrieved 23 October 2016. 
  4. ^ a b c d e Chiasson, George (April 2016). "From Recognition To Dominance: The New York Connecting Railroad (Bridging the Bay and Connecting the Pieces)". New York Division Bulletin. Electric Railroaders' Association. 59 (4): 3–5. Retrieved 23 October 2016. 
  5. ^ a b "Two 'El' Lines End Transit Service". The New York Times. June 12, 1940. p. 27. 
  6. ^ a b c d "The East Side-Bronx Transportation Question of New York City–II., Proposed Remedies". Street Railway Journal. McGraw Publishing Company. 29 (1): 8–13. January 5, 1907. Retrieved 10 December 2016. 
  7. ^ "Won't Abandon Commuters: New Haven Road Not Planning to Discontinue Its Suburban Service" (PDF). The New York Times. March 21, 1912. Retrieved 23 October 2016. 
  8. ^ "Razing of 'El' Yards For Scrap Is Urged: Moses Asks ODT to Take Steps to Free Discarded Cars-12,000 Tons Available" (PDF). The New York Times. September 25, 1942. Retrieved 23 October 2016. 
  9. ^ "3rd Av Local". 2010-06-09. Archived from the original on 2010-06-09. Retrieved 2016-10-30. 
  10. ^ "Rapid Transit to Harlem" (PDF). The New York Times Company. 31 December 1878. p. 8. Retrieved 21 February 2009. 
  11. ^ a b "Rush Hour at the Northern Terminal of the East Side "Rapid Transit" Lines; Harlem Bridge A Human Niagara". New York Herald. Fultonhistory.com. November 21, 1897. p. 3. Retrieved 25 October 2016. 
  12. ^ "Just across the River, Opening of a Short Length of Sub-Urban Rapid Transit Railroad" (PDF). The New York Times Company. 18 May 1886. p. 2. Retrieved 19 February 2009. 
  13. ^ Fischler, Stan (1997). The Subway: A Trip Through Time on New York's Rapid Transit. Flushing, NY: H&M Productions. pp. 245–249. ISBN 1-882608-19-4. 
  14. ^ a b c Sparberg, Andrew J. (1 October 2014). From a Nickel to a Token: The Journey from Board of Transportation to MTA. Fordham University Press. ISBN 978-0-8232-6190-1. 
  15. ^ How a Twenty Million Dollar Railroad Was Built in Mid-Air: Third Tracking the New York 'L'. Interborough Rapid Transit. 1917. Retrieved August 9, 2016. 
  16. ^ "Westchester Road to Open New Harlem River Station". New York Telegram and Evening Mail. Fultonhistory.com. April 7, 1924. p. 4. Retrieved 25 October 2016. 
  17. ^ "Manhattan East Side Transit Alternatives (MESA): Major Investment Study/Draft Environmental Impact Statement, August 1999". Metropolitan Transportation Authority, United States Department of Transportation, Federal Transit Administration. August 1999. Retrieved 11 July 2016. 
  18. ^ NYCTA Notice of Third Avenue Rail Closure for May 12, 1955