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Thursday, May 31, 2018

Using ARCGIS Pro 3-D to get a picture of 39th Street Brooklyn

The map above was produced using ARCGIS Pro and a 3-D option and a multi-patch  file from the City of New York Department of information and technology. You are looking west at New Jersey from above 39th Street around Ninth Avenue and looking at the waterfront.  The red lines are subway trackways of the "D" West End Line subway line.   The line most to the left is probably revenue trackage of the line and the other red lines are storage and yard trackage, not really shown accurately.  If you look towards the horizon you can see the Statue of Liberty and parallel to this at the Brooklyn shore is 33 rd Street, the site of the Luchenbach disaster in 1956.  At the foot of 39th Street, at First Avenue, and a little to the north is the turn around loop for the Church Avenue Trolley.

More to follow.

Thursday, May 17, 2018

Mystery Solved: Link between Church and Ditmas Avenues Brooklyn


The above two pictures were taken off the web at various times.  I cannot give you the source, but my purpose is educational.  Church Avenue station on the Independent Subway System Prospect Park Line opened on March 20, 1933.  If we jump forward to October 30,  1954, we see that the link between Church Avenue and Ditmas Avenue was complete and thus "D" trains from the Bronx were able to reach Coney Island, or what is considered a one seat ride.   This link that enabled the extension of the Independent subway to Coney Island caused trolley service below on McDonald Avenue to be cut back.

In a earlier post, I showed that the incline with the trolley support poles were already built in the 1930s, perhaps at opening day.   The proof of this may be that there is a four track yard partially underneath the incline.  If you look between the tracks as the subway enters the incline, you will see ventilation grills and a street emergency exit just about where the track level reaches street level (West side of McDonald Avenue at the sidewalk).

What happened between 1933 and the pictures above from 1941?  I am not sure but the pictures seem to show that the incline existed without steel grid work with no built connection to the BMT Culver line.  I am not sure if the entire steel structure spanned completely from the end of the incline to the Culver Line in the 1940's   I do know that for many years there was a one track connection (North Bound IND Local Track) to the Ditmas Avenue Station.   Other parts of the steel structure had no tracks on them until 1954.    To be continued.

Thus the probable sequence:


  • 1933:  Church Avenue Station and incline (non steel) to street level
  • 1941: Steel Girders from street level to just south of curve of structure of Culver Line.
  • 1942 - 1954? Steel girder connection between incline steel and Culver Line Structure, Track connection (one track) at the northbound local track at Ditmas Avenue to incline structure.
  • 1954:  Incline and steel structure have tracks installed.  New Culver shuttle track built (southbound platform Ditmas Avenue).  Culver BMT line tracks severed from structure at Ditmas Avenue except one track.  Three tracks at Ditmas Avenue connected to four track incline.

Wednesday, May 9, 2018

39th Street Brooklyn as shown by at ARCGIS 3-D Map

39 th Street in Brooklyn, is an interesting street that  is adjacent to many objects of transit , present and past.  The part from 9th Avenue to the Waterfront is very interesting because there is big change of elevation; not as much as San Francisco but still interesting.  It is interesting to stand at the intersection of Fifth Avenue and 39th Street looking west to the waterfront.  Although I never visited San Francisco, I imagined what it would be like to be on a street with trolley tracks looking down a hilly street to the harbor.  After streetcar service ended in Brooklyn in October, 1956, I had many occasions in which I took the B-35 bus or walked along the street.  For many years, the tracks and wires remained after abandonment.  On one side of  the street, I believe the southern side, trolley support poles supported power cables for  the Culver Line (shuttle) until the 1980's when the el was dismantled.  Even though the Culver Shuttle stopped running in 1975, the power cables remained intact for many years.  The power cables supported by black iron trolley support poles gave a feeling of what the street was like during streetcar days.  These cables stretched from it's source at Fifth Avenue and 39th Street to the Ninth Avenue BMT station of the West End (B, D, W) and the Culver Shuttle.  The wires crossed the Ninth Avenue yard, went along the South Brooklyn RR right of way and were connected under the Culver Line El structure on 37th Street all the way to around Cortelyou Road.  On the right of 39th Street, from Ninth Avenue to around Third Avenue was the 37th Street Yard and South Brooklyn Railway.  This was very mysterious to a child with all the hidden and abandoned ramps and enclosures.  Before Google Maps and the vast increase of availability of transit pictures, who knew what was there?  Not many libraries in the past had extensive rapid transit collections.  And how would a ten year old access it?  Rapid Transit topics were not fashionable in those days and information was simply not available.

In the map above, the thin blue line is the West End Line subway serviice (D), leaving the Ninth Avenue Station and running through some historic, mysterious track right of way to Fourth Avenue where it makes a hard right onto Fourth Avenue.  To the right of the blue line is the 37th Street yard where there are various ramps and tunnels.  At the intersection of Fifth Avenue near 37th Street stood a historic train station for various late 19th Century- Early 20th Century railroads.

To be continued....

  In the late 19th Century, 39th Street was a well traveled street because at the waterfront, the 39th Street Ferry provided transportation to Manhattan.  It seems that the Brooklyn Bridge at that time could not handle all the traffic even though trains did cross the Brooklyn Bridge.    Because of the 39th Street Ferry,  various streetcar lines reached it including  our well liked Church Avenue Line.  In the area was the elevated station at 36th Street and 5th Avenue and various railheads to provide service eventually to Coney Island and various race tracks.

Friday, April 27, 2018

Hi Folks!

Hi Everybody:

 Sorry that I could not add anything recently to the blog, but nothing much positive has been occurring recently with the New York Subway system and streetcars for this region.  Every day, there seems to be a problem with the subway:  Either a signal failure, track or rail condition, fire department condition (fire), police action (crime or suicide), sick passenger, equipment failure, flood condition and so on.   It seems that the Brooklyn - Queens connector streetcar is dead because of political reasons or money reasons.  Many people are against this project because they are against development just for the sake of development.  Questions regarding the utility of this project, in terms of serving the public was raised.   Is there really a need for a streetcar where there are other options such as subway lines and bus lines?   Vast areas of the five boroughs, particularly Staten Island, eastern Bronx, eastern and southern Queens and Brooklyn are transit deserts.  If the Second Avenue Line was proposed close to a hundred years ago and a small portion opened last year, how long would eastern Queens residents need to wait?   And if the billions were available, how long would it take to clear the red tape and the actual building process itself?  Twenty Years?   About new subway equipment:  Yes  new equipment is in order, even a open gangway unit but essentially these cars will look like  thousands of R 160 cars already running.   When will the last seat by window vanish?  This will be when the R- 46 or R-68 cars are history.  Yes, the new cars are air conditioned, shinny and have public announcements, but they are boring.   After x amount of years, when the cars became old and shabby, there will exist maybe two to three types of subway cars for the entire system.  Shutting down the "L" line for a year will also be a problem in many ways in terms of lost time, lost wages, congested streets and businesses running away.

Still, we must be thankful for what we have.  If I would have a choice of building a streetcar line, I would build a semi private right of way line at the end of a railhead such at 179 Street Jamaica, Co-Op City at the Pelham Bay Park station.  Other areas would be in Staten Island, Utica Avenue Brooklyn and so on.   According to a report listed in ERA Headlights, (Sorry, Do not Have the Source) reporting on a NY Regional Plan study showing that light rail is the most efficient way to transport passengers if certain criteria are met, such as the number of people using the service daily.  Most bus lines in Manhattan (in the 1980's at the time of study) meet the criteria.  This report was before the age of re-development and concentrated on efficiency and clean air.

For efficiency, the MTA should have been converting some diesel bus routes to streetcar ( with some private right of way running ) for the past thirty years.  This has nothing to do with development but with efficiency.  Having a large electric vehicle that is railed is an efficient means of transporting passengers having one driver.  If there is no money to extend the "F" in Queens or the "6" in the Bronx, why not build light rail at the end of the line?  It is cheaper than building a subway.

This is my humble opinion.  ...and the construction need not be fancy;  a simple covered station stop(s) would be sufficient.  You have the electric supply already at the end of the subway line (600 V).  Why not try it out using second hand equipment from Europe and temporary prefabricated tracks and some simple wooden poles for overhead support?
Tramway Null(0)

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Working with New York City Transit Authority Ridership Statistics Using "R"

Baruch College of CUNY offers data sets that can be downloadable dealing with station ridership statistics roughly from 2008 to 2016.  During this time, many stations or parts of stations were closed down for renovation so your really cannot compare the stats from station to station and from year to year.  

Using the dataset given at this site, I converted the *.xls file into a *.csv file and read it into "R".   Are there any common characteristics to the statistics for all these stations over various years?  First let us see if there are any clusters.   Using R code, I got the following graphs(s):  Looking at the curve, I was told that the ideal number of clusters may be at the location where on point is out of line with the rest.  This appears to be around 5 clusters.  Incidentally, the data set for ridership includes total for the year and average weekday and weekend ridership.  Note that during weekends, many lines may be closed and replaced by bus services.  In the cluster dendrogram below, there appears to be only two clusters: One cluster for total annual ridership figures (2008 -2016) and average  weekday and weekend ridership for the same years.  The clusters were made obviously on the difference of annual and average weekday and weekend data.  This this experiment was a failure.   The output below shows the proposed clusters.  I will try to figure this out in the future


Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Williamsburg Area Brooklyn: Feet to Nearest Station

  In 2019, the "L" train will be shut down for about a year in which thousands of residents will need to make new travel plans.  It is proposed that the last stop closest to Manhattan will be Bedford Avenue Brooklyn.  Using various programs, I made two maps of the area in Brooklyn   The top map shows the closest station to the subject station in feet.  Each station has a serial number.  The bottom map shows the number of feet to the Bedford Avenue Station from any station in the area.  This distance is as the crow flies.  I hope these maps are useful to anyone wishing to change their travel plans.  I assume that the measurements are accurate and are included here just as a aid but mainly for showing interesting spacial analytic techniques.   Please use other apps to help plan your trips.

Monday, January 29, 2018

Staten Island 3-D Elevation Map with SIRT using ARCGIS Pro.

Staten Island Elevation Map with Street Layout Added .  Elevation is from Raster File.


Notice the human like head circled in the Staten Island Elevation Map.  Compare to images found on the martian landscape.








Notice that using an enriched raster file with NYC elevations produces a nice map.