New York Third Avenue Transit No. 674

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NY 674

Photo: Jim Dignan

New York Third Avenue Railway System number 674 is the sole representative at Crich of the vast North American tramway systems that by 1917 covered some 45,000 miles of track across the United States alone, over which around 80,000 trams (or trolley cars as they were referred to over there) plied for service. The Third Avenue Railway System was a street tramway operator whose main line ran along Manhattan’s Third Avenue with additional lines in the Bronx, Westchester County and elsewhere in Manhattan.

By the time 674 came to be built, in 1939, streetcars in New York were facing an uncertain future as the mayor (Fiorello La Guardia), who had taken office in 1934, took the view that they failed to project the modern image that he favoured. He indicated that he didn’t want to renew tramway licenses once the current ones expired, which would have entailed a total replacement of the trams by 1960 at the latest. By the end of the thirties the TARS was, in any event, in a dire financial situation; having gone bankrupt in 1908 it had never fully recovering since then and the fleet was, by this stage, worn out.

Consequently, investment in completely new tramcars was out of the question. Instead, 61 relatively new second hand cars were bought. In addition, the existing fleet was reworked by the TARS workshops to produce new looking cars using as much existing equipment as possible to fill the gap. No fewer than 336 of these ‘renewed’ cars were built by TARS in its own workshops between 1934 and 1939, 674 being one of the last of these to be constructed.

Specification

Type of tram
Single deck; all-enclosed semi-convertible bogie electric tramcar
Livery
Red and cream
Seating capacity
49
Date built
1939
Manufacturer of body
Third Avenue Railway System, Third Avenue and Sixty-fifth Street Repair Shop
Manufacturer of truck
Brill 77E bogies (from older cars)
Gauge
4’ 8½”
Motor
GE245 4 x 35 hp
Controller
GEC K35 with line switch and foot-operated air-wheel brake
Current collector
Twin trolley poles but used a Pantograph while in Vienna
Modification

Trolley poles replaced by pantograph on entering service in Vienna. Renumbered as Vienna 4225 and painted in Vienna’s red and white livery

Withdrawn from service

1948 in New York
1969 in Vienna.

Subsequent history

Presented to the British Ambassador in Vienna who received it on behalf of the TMS in 1969.

Restoration history

Brought to Crich in April 1970 and formed part of the operational fleet until 1985. At first it operated as Vienna 4225 with a slightly raised pantograph. In 1979 it was restored to its original Third Avenue condition as 674 including the fitting of twin trolleys.

Current status
Conserved; on display in non-operational condition.
Date started operating at Crich
1970 for 15 years
Total mileage covered at Crich
6,470
Current location
Exhibition Hall
Future plans

Awaiting funding for a future overhaul.

Timeline
  • 1939 – 1944Operational on original tramway
  • 1948 – 1969Operational on different tramway
  • 1970 – 1979Operational at Crich as Vienna 4225
  • 1979 – 1985Operational at Crich as NY 3 Ave 674
  • 1985 –On display

Crich Tramway Village is a brand name for the National Tramway Museum (Accredited with Arts Council England), solely owned and operated by The Tramway Museum Society, incorporated in England with liability by guarantee (no. 744229). Registered charity number 313615. Our ICO number is Z6700136.