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Tenth Avenue, known as Amsterdam Avenue north of 59th Street, is a north-south thoroughfare on the West Side of Manhattan in New York City. It carries uptown (northbound) traffic as far as West 110th Street – also known as Cathedral Parkway for the Cathedral Church of St. John the Divine – after which it continues as a two-way street.
Tenth Avenue begins at Gansevoort Street and Eleventh Avenue in the West Village / Meatpacking District at a three-way intersection at which both Tenth and Eleventh Avenues, and West Street all end. For the southernmost stretch (the four blocks below 14th Street), Tenth Avenue runs southbound. North of 14th Street, Tenth Avenue runs uptown (northbound) for 45 blocks as a one-way street northbound until its intersection with West 59th Street, where it is re-signed (like the other West Side avenues) as Amsterdam Avenue but continues without interruption. Amsterdam Avenue continues as a one-way street northbound until Cathedral Parkway, where two-way traffic resumes.
As Amsterdam Avenue, the thoroughfare stretches 129 blocks north before reaching Highbridge Park at West 190th Street, where the roadway is briefly renamed Fort George Avenue before it terminates. The street narrows to one lane in each direction as it passes through the campus of Yeshiva University's Wilf Campus, between 184th and 186th streets. Following the roadway's interruption by Highbridge Park, it resumes in the same line as Tenth Avenue, running for slightly less than a mile, from Dyckman Street and the northern terminus of the Harlem River Drive to the intersection of West 218th Street and Broadway (at this point carrying U.S. Route 9), near the extreme northern tip of the island of Manhattan and the Broadway Bridge, which crosses the Harlem River.
The segment south of Highbridge Park, running a total of 177 blocks, is the longest continuous avenue in Manhattan. Prior to 2007, Broadway was also longer, but has since been made into several discontinuous segments in midtown Manhattan.
Tenth Avenue runs through the Chelsea and Hell's Kitchen neighborhoods on the west side of the borough, and then as Amsterdam Avenue, through the Upper West Side, Harlem and Washington Heights. Much of these areas were working class or poor for much of the 20th century. The street has long been noted for its commercial traffic, and had grade-level railroad lines through the early 20th century. In the 19th century, when the West Side Line ran along the Avenue, a "Tenth Avenue Cowboy" was paid to ride a horse and warn people of an approaching street running train. The lines were later elevated above street level.
"Amsterdam Avenue" was intended to recall the Dutch roots of Manhattan's earliest colonization in the 17th century. According to Sanna Feirstein's Naming New York:
What is now Amsterdam Avenue was laid out in the 1811 Commissioners' Plan as 10th Avenue and opened from 59th Street to Fort George Avenue in 1816. The name was changed in 1890 in a bid on the part of Upper West Side landowners to confer a measure of old-world cachet to their real estate investments in an area that had yet to catch on. The new avenue name supported the speculators' claim that this section would become "the New City" and a "new, New Amsterdam."
Tenth Avenue and Amsterdam Avenue were converted to carry one-way traffic southbound in two stages. South of its intersection with Broadway the avenue was converted on November 6, 1948. The rest to 110th Street was converted on December 6, 1951. Amsterdam Avenue continues to carry two-way traffic north of 110th Street.