New York City’s “Death Avenue”

I’ve seen so many posts of PSLs, Halloween costumes, and fall decor. I’m not there yet…It’s still summer for me! But, all of the fall festivities around the corner did inspire this post. So, for those of you who enjoy learning about the dark side and macabre, this is for you.

You might also enjoy our posts of haunted NYC spots for your Halloween planning in the city.

So, where is New York City’s “Death Avenue”?

The Bronx? Nope.

Brooklyn? Nada.

Harlem? Not even close.

Staten Island? No.

“Death Avenue” is actually one of the most visited places in New York City. Let’s see how well you know the city as the history comes to life. Can you guess where it is before I tell you?

Originally part of a British Fort during the Revolutionary War, this spot became a main thoroughfare for the Hudson River Railroad taking passengers from New York City to Albany.

New Yorker’s have always had a tendency to “jaywalk” and cross streets without much regard. And, this area was full of them – stacked row houses lined the streets, and local commuters would often pass in front of the trains (or even between train cars) and not make it to the other side. The train was horrifyingly nicknamed, “The Butcher.”

Even if they did succeed in crossing the train tracks, the trains ran adjacent to carriage roads, where many pedestrians were also trampled to death, or later run over by motor carriages. It’s estimated that prior to 1908, nearly 450 people were killed in this very spot.

The area gained its nickname “Death Avenue” due to all of the carnage and horror of this time.

Eventually, the tracks were replaced with lifted tracks and tunnels.

Even though the train tracks were no longer active, “Death Avenue” became an area of disrepair and ruin – used only as storage yard for LIRR trains.

In 2004, with an approval of a $3.7 billion dollar budget in funding, a remodel and makeover for “Death Avenue” hit the city plans.

The plans included running an extension of the 7 train, rezoning, expanding the Javits Center, and building out a cultural area.

The city had high hopes for improving this last frontier in Manhattan.

Did it work?

Welcome to Hudson Yards

And, here we are. Had you figured it out already? We previously included The Edge at Hudson Yards in our post on all of the observation platforms in New York City.

This area is new, trendy, upscale, and splashy. Peak restaurant is one of the nicest in town. The Edge is the most exciting observation platform in the city. The mall is glamorous and high-end. The Equinox hotel and gym is the best outpost in New York. The backyard and Vessel are popular Insta spots for great reason. The Shed is a fantastic venue and addition to the cultural landscape in New York.

To an outsider, New York finally killed “Death Avenue” once and for all.

And, it is a beautiful area with very impressive architecture and city planning.

And, yet….

Hudson Yards and Mental Health

The Vessel was included in the Hudson Yards project as a unique piece of architecture that the city could use for public space and exercise.

It is comprised of 154 interconnected flights of stairs, and 2500 individual steps.

It promised to deliver a fun park and recreation option to Manhattan’s west siders as well as visitors and photographers.

However, in its short time being open, the Vessel has already been the scene of four suicides.

The most recent happened after The Vessel re-opened with a new buddy system requirement for entry and mental health awareness checkpoints located throughout the structure. A 14-year-old, with family alongside, jumped to their death.

Now closed once again, the city is continuing to consider how they can use the structure and keep people safe.

However, others argue that The Vessel is steeped in deeper issues. Surrounded on one side with ultra-luxury that’s unattainable to most people and an old train yard on the other, you find a set of stairs that literally lead to nowhere in the middle.

Some have argued that the location and idea of the structure overall are creating mental health imbalances, and, providing those who are already unstable a tragic ending far too easily.

A Moment of Silence…

As beautiful as the renovations are, I still feel sadness around “Death Avenue.” Is it particularly dangerous now? No… It’s beautiful and very safe.

However, I think that the weight of the history hasn’t been escaped as the area continues to face tragedy and despair.

If you find yourself touring the area, take photos and have fun.

But, also take a moment of silence to consider the lives that have been lost to innovation – from trains, to cars, to now – extreme capitalism and mental health issues.

Progress never comes without a price.

More Posts About New York

Should I Come to New York in 2021?

So, we’re back on the fence for this again due to the Delta Variant. I’ll keep you posted as things change. For now, if you’re coming, make sure to bring your proof of vaccination! This will be REQUIRED for most places you will want visit. 

***UPDATE*** On May 17th the MTA Subway System resumed 24/7 service!

***UPADTE***On August 16th restaurants, attractions, and venues will REQUIRE proof of vaccination. They will accept your vaccination card, a photo of the front and back of your vaccination card, or a QR code from your state’s vaccination app – like the New York Excelsior Pass. 

***UPDATE*** On September 14th Broadway will be allowed to re-open at 100% capacity. The shows scheduled to resume in September are The Lion King, Wicked, and Ain’t Too Proud. 

As always, don’t forget to Toast The Moon to all of your international travels by visiting our store, and make sure to follow us on FacebookTwitter, and the ‘gram to catch all of our latest posts and adventures!


Majhon and Noah

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