A short film looks at the personal side of the much-maligned service, the same year it shut down for good.

Elevated trains along Manhattan’s Third Avenue stopped running for good in 1955. At the time, developers framed the service as a hindrance to progress as the city’s subway service expanded. Their removal—as Vincent Valk explains for CityLab in his look back at the old els—meant quieter, cleaner blocks to build new, market-rate apartment towers on. A short film released the same year focuses instead on the humanity that relied on the lines.

Without dialogue, the Oscar-nominated 3rd Ave El depicts a day on the maligned service through the perspective of its riders. From sunrise to sunset, a young filmmaker, an old drunk, a small child, and a young couple all experience the city differently. But the old el links them together unknowingly.

About the Author

Most Popular

  1. photo: a For Rent sign in a window in San Francisco.
    Coronavirus

    Do Landlords Deserve a Coronavirus Bailout, Too?

    Some renters and homeowners are getting financial assistance during the economic disruption from the coronavirus pandemic. What about landlords?

  2. photo: South Korean soldiers attempt to disinfect the sidewalks of Seoul's Gagnam district in response to the spread of COVID-19.
    Coronavirus

    Pandemics Are Also an Urban Planning Problem

    Will COVID-19 change how cities are designed? Michele Acuto of the Connected Cities Lab talks about density, urbanization and pandemic preparation.  

  3. An African healthcare worker takes her time washing her hands due to a virus outbreak/.
    Coronavirus

    Why You Should Stop Joking That Black People Are Immune to Coronavirus

    There’s a fatal history behind the claim that African Americans are more resistant to diseases like Covid-19 or yellow fever.

  4. photo: a TGV train in Avignon, France
    Coronavirus

    To Fight a Fast-Moving Pandemic, Get a Faster Hospital

    To move Covid-19 patients from the hardest-hit areas, authorities in France turned one of the nation’s famous TGV trains into a very fast ambulance.

  5. photo: an empty street in NYC
    Environment

    What a Coronavirus Recovery Could Look Like

    Urban resilience expert Michael Berkowitz shares ideas about how U.S. cities can come back stronger from the social and economic disruption of coronavirus.

×