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History of NYCO's 5 Line (1936-1963)

Posted by W.B. on Thu Dec 7 17:42:03 2017

In researching the history of the various New York City bus routes in New York Times articles of the various one-way avenue conversions of 1948-1966, one forgotten route would appear to be the 5 - Sixth Avenue (Avenue of the Americas) route of the New York City Omnibus Corporation as in operation from March 3, 1936 to November 10, 1963 and through three different operators - NYCO until 1956, the NYCO [later Omnibus] Division of Fifth Avenue Coach Lines, Inc. from 1956 to 1962, and finally the Manhattan and Bronx Surface Transit Operating Authority (MaBSTOA) in its last 19 or so months in operation.

For the most part, its route ran from Fulton Street from the south to 59th Street (Central Park South) from the north.

It was affected immeasurably by a few major one-way conversions in 1957 and 1962, and totally finished off by the 1963 round.

March 10, 1957, when Sixth Avenue from Herald Square to 59th Street became one-way northbound; and Broadway from Herald Square to Columbus Circle, and Seventh Avenue from Times Square to Central Park South, one-way southbound, led to the 5, from its 59th Street terminus, commence its southbound trek west on 59th, south on Seventh Avenue to Times Square and then along Broadway to Herald Square. When a series of one-way conversions affecting lower Manhattan below 14th Street were put into effect June 3, 1962, its southbound route south of Lispenard Street would run south on West Broadway to Vesey Street. But after the rest of Sixth south of Herald Square made the switch to one-way northbound on Nov. 10, 1963, that was the end of the road for the 5. It was then absorbed by MaBSTOA into ex-NYCO / FACL-NYCO Division Rt. 6 - Broadway and Seventh Avenue, which already traveled north along Greenwich Street, Trinity Place and Church Street in lower Manhattan since the 1962 set of conversions, and Sixth north of Herald Square since 1957, now ran all the way along Sixth thereafter, and on to its own June 27, 2010 demise in the wake of a round of major bus and subway service cutbacks.

The 1963 demise of ex-NYCO 5 was also ironic in that on that same day, another 5 - of the ex-FACCo variety, running along Fifth Avenue and Riverside Drive - began to make its incursions into Sixth, with its extension to Houston Street and West Broadway. At first, it only traveled up Sixth to 8th Street on its way to Fifth Avenue, not going all the way up Sixth to 57th Street until the Jan. 14, 1966 conversions of Fifth and Madison Avenues to one-way traffic. That it assumed the southern end of the old (M)6's route (to South Ferry) from 2010 to 2017 was seen as ironic given the history of the "other" 5.

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