The Third Ave El (or Third Avenue Elevated Line) train was an elevated railway that ran from Chatham Square in the City Hall area of Manhattan to Gun Hill and White Plains Roads in the Bronx from 1878 to 1955. The Bronx section of the Third Ave El ran from East 149th St. and Third Ave (the Hub) to Gun Hill Road from 1955 to 1973.
Ownership of the railway passed from the Interborough Rapid Transit Company (IRT) and eventually the New York City Subway. “In the 1930s and ’40s, as part of the integration of the different subway companies in New York City-the IRT along with Brooklyn-Manhattan Transit (BMT) and Independent Subway System (IND)-the Third Avenue El and its counterparts on Second, Sixth, and Ninth Avenues came under criticism from New York mayor Fiorello LaGuardia and his successors. The Els were regarded as blights to their communities and obsolete, given that subways were being built, or were on the drawing board, to replace them.”
The railway line was closed in sections from 1950 to 1973. The first to close was the South Ferry spur in 1950. It connected South Ferry to Chatham Square. The City Hall section was second to close in 1953. It started in Park Row in Manhattan and then connected to the South Ferry Spur. The main portion of the line from Chatham Square to East 149th Street in the Bronx was closed on May 12, 1955. This ended the operation of the elevated service in Manhattan.
In the 1960’s, the remaining service of the Third Ave El was renamed the 8 (or #8). The final portion of the line that ran from East 149th Street in the Bronx to Gun Hill Road closed in April, 1973.
On April 29, 1973, the Bx 55 Limited bus route replaced the Bronx’s Third Avenue El. It only made the stops of the former rail line. The Bx 55 was one of the first bus routes in the city to have free transfers with the subway at the Third Ave-149th Street and Gun Hill Road White Plains Road IRT stations.