The First Elevated Railway - The West Side & Yonkers Patent Railway
July 1, 1867 - Survey work started for construction of the first ¼ mile of what would be the first elevated railway line in the world on Greenwich St on the lower west side of Manhattan.
Oct 10, 1867 - The first column of The West Side & Yonkers Patent Railway line was erected on Greenwich St.
Dec 7, 1867 - Mr. Charles T. Harvey demonstrated use of the line by riding a car truck, instead of a car. Following this test, the directors of the West Side & Yonkers Patent Railway Company who were financing the venture, authorized expenditures to complete the remainder of the line to Cortlandt St, which was permitted by the legislature.
July 3, 1868 - The Board of Railroad Commissioners made a test trip on the structure in a passenger car by from Battery Place to Cortlandt St. and was pulled by a Roebling ¾" cable powered by a stationary steam engine in a vault under the street in front of 107 Greenwich Street. The system of cable grip was somewhat similar to those in use on the San Francisco Cable Cars. The track gauge was 4'10 ½" and the rails were on the longitudinal girders and no cross ties were used. The car was placed on the line in May.
Feb. 14, 1870 - Regular passenger service began from Dey Street station to the new northern terminal of the line at 9th Avenue & 29th St, which was also the location of the southern terminal of the Hudson River Railroad. The single-track structure followed the easterly curb line of Greenwich St and the westerly curb line of 9th Ave. Four new operating plants powered the line. The first one was at Cortlandt & Greenwich Streets, which powered the line from Battery Place to Franklin St. A plant at Franklin St operated another cable from there to Houston St. Another engine at Bank Street propelled the cable between Houston and Little West 12th Streets. From Little West 12th St to the northern end at West 29th Street another cable ran to and from a plant at the northwest corner of West 22nd Street & 9th Ave. The original steam cable engine at 107 Greenwich St built for the first experiment was closed down. At this time, three cars were on hand for service.
Nov 15, 1870 - Operation of the line had been discontinued by this time because of the frequent breakdowns of the cable method. Frequently the cable broke, necessitating the use of a team of horses to pull the stranded car and passengers to the end of the line. Following this, the whole line would have to be shut down for a while necessary repairs were made. The West Side Patented Elevated Railway Company was then in control of the first organization and they, too, had financial storms to weather. The line was auctioned off for $960 to the bondholders who planned to discontinue cable propulsion in favor of steam dummies since the original charter permitted it, if cable was deemed impractical.
April 20,1871 - Steam operation began with a small locomotive pulling the three former cable cars. The engine was boxed in to prevent frightening horses in the streets below. The equipment belonging to the cable operation was discarded. The system was auctioned off again for $5,000 to another group of bondholders who were organizing a new company. Operation continued sporadically until the new management was ready to assume control. The fare over the line was 10 cents and 237 passengers were carried on the first day