When the Third Avenue El was extended into the Bronx in the 1890s, Manhattan’s 3rd Avenue was as well, taking over the routes of several separate streets over which the el was built. However, New York County, of which the Bronx was a part in the 1890s, treated 3rd Avenue differently on street signs in Manhattan than it did in the Bronx. While all numbered “avenue” signs in Manhattan from 1 to 12 used digits to represent the avenues, in the Bronx, street signs spelled out the “Third” on the signs, and the practice is continued till this day.

This sign was one of the thousands installed beginning in the early 1910s, when the Bronx was still part of New York County. After years of agitation on the part of local officials, the Bronx was finally voted county status in 1914 and as such is the “newest” county in the State of New York. This sign was likely in place until the 1960s, when vinyl signs replaced the old metallic ones. I have always adored the font on these old Manhattan-Bronx signs and wish someone would digitize it. The Third Avenue el lasted until 1973 in the Bronx from the Hub to Fordham U.

Photo: Jean Kweskin-Siegel. Surprisingly it was found in a restaurant in Dillon, SC.


Categorized in: One Shots Signs Subways & Trains Tagged with:

7 Responses to THIRD OR 3RD?

  1. Asher says:

    I think that The Bronx has both spellings – Third Avenue for where the el used to run and 3rd Avenue in Harding Park.

  2. John says:

    The Willis Avenue Station opened Nov.25,1886 & closed Apr.14,1924. The Gun Hill Road Station opened Oct.4,1920 & closed Apr.29,1973. On maps of the late 1960’s & early 1970’s,the remaining portion of the route was marked “8”,even though trains simply displayed “SHUTTLE”.

  3. Andy says:

    In the early 20th century the IRT published the map linked here that referred to the Bronx portion of the avenue as North Third Avenue. Link here, from

  4. BobK says:

    Third Avenue ran as far north as Fordham, true enough. But until 1973 the venerable and much lamented Third Avenue El continued northward, via Webster Avenue and Gun Hill Road, to the double-decked station at Gun Hill and White Plains Roads, where passengers could transfer to the IRT # 2 line.

  5. FNY Fan Skipper says:

    On my street here in northern VT, the sign is [3RD St], but I write my address as “Third St”, and that’s how most of my mail comes.

  6. steve kennedy says:

    Copperplate Gothic is a typeface designed by Frederic W. Goudy and released by the American Type Founders (ATF) in 1901.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.