8. Chelsea Market Still Stands On Top of the Original Westside Cowboys Railroad Track
Photo from Library of Congress
Chelsea Market may house its fair share of new companies on the cutting edge of technology, but it still rests firmly on the foundations of its industrial past. Unfortunately, some of these foundations have a bit of a bloody history.
Also known as “The Butcher,” the freight train system that rode along 10th and 11th avenues between 1846 and 1941 killed over 436 people during its reign of terror. This was partly because the railroad had no barriers to stop people or cars from crossing the tracks. The trains ran alongside cars and pedestrians, and many casualties ensued.
In 1850, in an effort fueled by well-meaning desperation, the Hudson River Railroad recruited literal cowboys to ride in front of trains waving red flags, hoping they would wave patrons out of the way. They specifically chose seasoned Western cowboys rather than New York horsemen, reasoning that it would be too difficult for anyone but the most experienced rider to control his steed in the midst of the city’s traffic. Called the Westside Cowboys, they rode until 1941. Luckily, “Death Avenue” was shut down — but the tracks remain underneath the market.