8. Death Avenue inspired the creation of the West Side Elevated Highway

Prior to the construction of the West Side Elevated Highway, the New York Central freight line ran at street level, giving the stretch of Tenth and Eleventh Avenues the nickname Death Avenue. The moniker comes from the consistent and often fatal collisions between trains and people along the busy thoroughfare. The street-level tracks were used to ship commodities such as coal, beef, and dairy products.

Before the trains were elevated, the New York Central Railroad hired men on horseback armed with red flags to ride in front of the trains to signal their arrival. They came to be known as The West Side Cowboys. However, they were unable to prevent many further disasters, with some estimates revealing well over 500 deaths just along Eleventh Avenue over the years. The West Side Improvement Project, developed by Robert Moses, eliminated 105 street-level railroad crossings and ultimately expanded Riverside Park. The first official proposal for an elevated highway along the west side was made by Police Commissioner Richard Edward Enright on January 12, 1924.