The 3rd Avenue Elevated Train ("El") opened with service in Manhattan in 1878. Over the next 77 years, the 3rd Avenue "El" would provide rapid train transit for anybody wishing to go from the Southern tip of Manhattan, down Bowery and Third Avenue, and up into the Bronx terminus. The "El" lines were eventually replaced with subterranean lines that run the same routes, more-or-less, and the 3rd Avenue "El" was the last one to be dismantled in 1955.
This vintage photograph from 1878 shows a steam train on top of the Thirds Avenue El in the year it first opened. The shot looks North along 3rd Avenue from 9th Street in the East Village.
Here is a Google StreetView of approximately the same view today.
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