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Tuesday, August 12, 2014

New York Railways Eighth Avenue Line (1855? -1935)

Source:  Linder, B. "Eight Avenue Line" in Electric Railroaders Association " New York Division Bulletin", Vol. 32, Number 9, September, 1989, pp.2- 5.

  The track map below refers to the New York Railways "Eight Avenue" streetcar line in Manhattan.  According to Linder, the exact date of the start of horse car service is not known but the 1855 date is the date that the company bought from the owners the road from Barclay Street to 59th Street.  The line was extended in stages to 159th Street and Eight Avenue in 1897.  Portions of the line were electrified in 1898.

   The Eighth Avenue streetcar line does not follow the Eighth Avenue Subway directly that runs under it, but they share some common streets such as Eight Avenue in midtown and a portion of uptown.  The IND (Eighth Avenue) subway opened in 1932 but construction started in 1925.  Since the construction was mainly of the "cut and cover" kind, this would mean that the surface had to be turn up, including the trolley tracks and its' underground conduit.  Since according to Linder, there does not appear to have been major disturbances to streetcar service during construction (at least as explained in his brief article), streetcar service may have run on temporary tracks.  At any rate, by 1932, perhaps new track was installed on the surface of Eighth Avenue.  It is ironic that three years later, in 1935, the line was abandoned even though the track was relatively new.

Around 1904, a branch of the Eighth Avenue Streetcar opened to the Cortlandt Street ferry via Greenwich Street, Dey Street Washington Street and Cortlandt Street.  If you look at the downtown portion of the map, you can see the curve at Fulton Street and Church Street.  Fulton Street used to run from river to river.  The Fulton - Church Street intersection was at the entrance to the old World Trade Center.  Of course, before the development of the first World Trade Center, the street pattern was different and you had in the area a lot of electronics stores.  With the construction of the World Trade Center superblock in the late 1960's, the smaller streets at the site were eliminated.  This was the area of the historic Corlandt Street Ferry.

Friday, August 8, 2014

A View of the Culver Viaduct from Below

Many of my posts deal with the area around the Smith-9th Street station in Red Hook.  This viaduct, that includes the Smith-9th Street station was built in the late 1920's and early 1930's for the city run Independent  (IND) subway extension to Church Avenue.  Unlike earlier elevated lines, this structure is very high and the steel is covered with a layer of concrete.  This viaduct has just recently undergone a multi dollar renewal.  This is not the only concrete viaduct for subway service.

  In this shot below, which is taken from the New York Transit Museum archive, shows Smith Street facing north.  The Smith-Street station is towards the photographer's back and you see the curve of the structure as it swings to the west and starts to decline into the tunnel.  The structure is not over Smith Street but to the west side of the street.  Smith Street had trolley service as well.  The photo was taken on November 29, 1950 by Leon and it is part of the Lundin Collection.  You are looking at Smith Street between West 9th Street and Huntington Streets.

  If you look to the right (east side of Smith Street), you can see not one, but I believe two gas tanks (holders) that are adjustable?   It is said that gas tank site has many toxins buried underneath.

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

A Trip to Prague, 1960

Hi folks.  Please check out this old video of the Prague Tramway system in 1960.  A lot of old equipment which was trolley pole driven.  A lot of focus on the overhead and architecture.   Views of street construction, trolley breaking systems and you will hear a nice jingle.


Very nice with great photography from 1960.  In black and white.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Having Your Trolleybus and Eating it Also

  Friends, I came across an interesting Facebook posting called "Trolleybus".  It is interested in trolleybuses only and has very interesting items on "Trolleybus Art".  Simply type in "Trolleybus" where you want to find friends.

This posting comes from this site.  Even though  I cannot read Russian script, this is very interesting.

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Anniversary of the Last Trolley Bus in Brooklyn (July 27, 1960)

     July 27, 1960, over fifty years ago, was the last date of trolleybus service in Brooklyn.  Not all of the several lines made it to this end
 date.  The Cortelyou Road route ended on October 31, 1956 and I believe  the St. Johns Place line ended in 1959.  Except for the Cortelyou Road line, the few Brooklyn-Queens operated about 12 years only while the Cortelyou Road line was established in either 1930 or 1932.  Trolleybuses never made it New York City.  In Staten Island, an early operation was set up in the 1920's but did not last long.  It was operated by the New York City Department of Plants and Structures.  Around 1992, there were plans to operate trolleybuses in Manhattan on 2nd Avenue in a "Select Bus Service" format, but nothing came of this plan.  I saw in 1989, in one of the  of ERA  "Headlights" that there were plans for a select bus service using trolleybuses for the B-35 Church Avenue Route and a route going to Co-op City in the Bronx (BX-15).  Many years ago, an official at the New York City Transit Authority told me that a section of trolleybus wires existed under a wooden trough under the IRT Flushing Line el structure at Woodside.  A similar section may have also existed someplace in the Bronx as well.  I am not aware of any trolleybus operation in these two boroughs (except for some Brooklyn lines that crossed over into Queens, such as the Flushing Avenue Line).

Looking back from the late 1960's with the birth of the environmental movement, some people predicted that trolleybuses will make a big comeback across the United States and the world.  They were wrong in the sense that light rail and streetcars made a comeback while trolleybuses stagnated or kept their own.

 For New York City, July 27, 1960 marks the end of a form of electric transportation, on the surface that was in regular service.  Of course, in 1961 there was a private operation of a Swedish trolleycar under the Culver Line and much later, experiments such as Bob Diamond conducted, but July 27, 1960 was really the end.  It is unlikely that any form surface transportation will use overhead wires in New York City ever again.

  This shot comes from the archives of the New York Transit Museum. It was taken on 10/26/48 and it is part of the Lundin collection.  This is at the Fourth Avenue - Flatbush Avenue intersection.  You are seeing a Flatbush Avenue Streetcar and a St. Johns Place trolleybus.  For about two years,  both electric lines shared the street.  The Flatbush Avenue line was motorized in 1951?

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Another Look at the Smith-9th Street Area in Brooklyn: 1952

  This picture was taken from a Gowanus Area blog but the original photograph is the property of the Brooklyn Public Library.  It was taken in 1952 under the title of "Vital Waterway".  In this remarkable shot, you are facing north on the Gowanus Canal.  You see the Smith-9th Street elevated subway line crossing the canal.  The station is very high because the 9th Street drawbridge is right under it.  I believe that a year earlier, on February 11, 1951, the Smith Street trolley died.  It ran under the station  and over the  9th Street drawbridge.  You see the movable (adjustable)  gas tank in it's correct position.  Surrounding the canal was various cement and coal companies. I believe Cirillo Brothers was a coal company and they had  branch(es) near the Culver Line at the 13th Avenue Station.  In later years, I believe they became a supplier of fuel oil for heating.  In the right side of the shot, you see the Williamsburg Bank Building, which was for that time and perhaps until recently, the highest building in Brooklyn.  To the left, you see some of the tall office buildings on Court Street Brooklyn.  Manhattan skyscrapers do not show up in this photo.  To this day, this area is industrial with cement companies but there are plans for housing near the canal.  I believe Bob Diamond wants to link this area to the Red Hook Streetcar  as well.