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Tuesday, September 16, 2014

A Map of the New York Waterfront in the 1940's from the Rutger's University Map Lab

  Rutgers University in New Jersey has a map lab site that has links to all sorts of historical, geological, typological and so on maps.  Other map sites are linked and much information can be obtained.  Although I probably should not post their maps, I am doing it for research purposes only.

Please see the map below:

This very interesting map shows the railroads that had terminals on the west bank of the Hudson River across from Manhattan in the 1940's.  To reach Manhattan, passengers needed to take a ferry across the river.  Many of the former streetcar lines in Manhattan greeted these passengers.  Please take a look at the western shore of Manhattan and the lower east side towards Brooklyn.  Many piers existed for commerce and the Port of New York was an important one.  Today, the Port of New York is not so strong because of the change of technology how shipping is handled (containers).  Many of the piers near the former World Trade Center are gone.

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Some Flooding Scenario Maps for Greenpoint and Long Island City

  In the maps below, I show some flooding scenarios based on  New York City RIM files.  These maps are produced on a "what if" basis if the polar ice caps should melt at a steady pace going to the year 2080.  These flood maps seem to be based on elevation.  In the recent local news, in the real estate sections are reporting  increased building activity in the Greenpoint and Long Island City areas of Queens.  Many of these zones of increased building activity are taking place a few hundred feet or less near the waterfront.  I am sure that the developers of these projects are taking into effect future water levels.  I would like to tell my readers that they should not make any decisions based on these maps.  I cannot tell if these maps are accurate or if the water level will rise due to melting ice caps.  I thought that the readers should be aware of this, if they are not so already.  Last weekend, the "G" train that was closed down for underwater tube reconstruction reopened.  It goes through the target area.  These Greenpoint tubes suffered much water damage due to superstorm Sandy.  I also wanted to show  mapping techniques as well.  It is possible to get a typographic map of New York City from the Rutgers' University Map Lab and bring it into a ARCGIS map. What is nice is that this file does not need to be geo referenced.

In the above map, I bring in the street pattern for Greenpoint Brooklyn and Long Island City Queens.  The black thick lines are the subway routes in the area.  You will see three flood scenarios for the area for years 2020, 2050 and 2080.  The location of the "G" line is indicated.  The "G" train crosses the Newtown Canal as indicated by the arrow.

In the map above, I brought in one flood stage scenario (2020), subway routes and a typographic map from around 1975 of the area.  This can be obtained from the Rutgers" University Map Lab.  It can be added to an ARCGIS map very easily.  At the Rutgers University Map Site, select New York City Typographic Maps.  Choose the "tile" that you need and download it as zip file to your desktop.  Open your already existing map in ARCGIS and add the *.tiff file after the file that was downloaded was unzipped.  It does not need to be geo referenced which can be a pain.

The map above is produced by GRASS and shows the direction and strength of water flow for the area based on rain and elevation.  The direction and thickness of the bars shows flow and direction.

I am not an expert in reading this but it seems that surface waterflow is not an issue for the area.  Notice the big waterflow vector for the Lower East Side of Manhattan to the left of the map.

Please ignore the legend.

Sunday, August 31, 2014

NewsFlash: Los Angeles eHighway to be constructed and completed in July, 2015

  Several years ago, I reported about experiments with trolley trucks in Europe.  It seems that according to the attached article, a test system will be built in Los Angeles near the port.  The line, about a mile long will go directly into the port and construction is to begin in early 2015 and be completed by July, 2015.  Perhaps the interest this experiment generates will bring renewed interest in trolley buses as well.  This is very good for the environment.

Friday, August 29, 2014

Somewhere Along McDonald Avenue

The photo below, also comes from the New York Transit Museum Archives and it is from the Lonto-Watson collection.  It was taken on April 9, 1955 somewhere along McDonald Avenue.  This is the period after the Culver Line was "captured" by the IND Subway in October 1954 and PCC streetcars were found on the last three streetcar lines in Brooklyn (Church Avenue, Church-McDonald and Coney Island Avenue)  Streetcar service ended under the Culver Line on October 31, 1956.  This great shot shows a train of R1-9 cars on the Independent "D" Line (Sixth Avenue Line) between 205th Street in the Bronx and Coney Island.  Great side view shot of the PCC car and the"D" train. The PCC car shares its' tracks with the South Brooklyn Railroad.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Another Look at the Delancey-Essex Street Trolley Terminal at the foot of the Williamsburgh Bridge

 These series of photographs were available at the New York City Transit Museum website in their archive division.  My attempt here is not to "steal" them but just to present to you some photographs that are not that well known.    I believe about a year ago plans were announced to make the former trolley terminal, at the southern side of the Essex Street subway station in Manhattan, on the Lower East Side into an underground park lighted by natural light conveyed through fiber optics.  Other transportation facilities in Manhattan, such as the former "High Line", an elevated freight line on the west side.  Please look at these photographs and you will see that the former trolley terminal has many characteristics in common with an ordinary subway station and is similar to the trolley terminal at Newark station in New Jersey.  These photographs come from the Lundin Collection.

In these photographs, you can see the overhead wire support apparatus and the shiny tracks.

In my humble opinion, such a resource should not be wasted.  If the city wanted to construct a light rail line across the Williamsburgh Bridge today, how much would such an underground terminal cost if built from scratch?  I believe that west of the trolley terminal provisions were made to join the trolley tracks to the BMT Jamaica Line downtown to Canal Street or for a new trolley subway tunnel perhaps north of Delancey Street.

    Many areas in northern and eastern Brooklyn are experiencing a real estate boom with the "L" train severely overcrowded.  I would:
  1. Bring streetcars across the bridge.  I would not use heavy light rail vehicles but very light streetcars.  Their tracks can be in the regular roadway without requiring deep construction.
  2. Some bus lines in the area near Washington Plaza would be converted to streetcar so they can make the trip across the bridge.
  3. If possible, some streetcars should use the less used tracks south of the station to the area around Canal Street.
  4. By converting some bus routes in Williamsburgh or Greenpoint to streetcar, a one seat ride can be provided to Essex Street were transfer can be made to the J, M, Z or F trains without going into the street or having a smelly diesel bus terminal on the surface.
This is my opinion but I do not know if this is doable from a practical and engineering standpoint.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Some New York El Drawings from the 1930's

   The el system that developed in Manhattan from the middle of the 19th Century was quite useful in transporting cheaply and efficiently passengers for many years.  Els also developed elsewhere in New York City as well, particularly in Brooklyn and Queens and as extensions to Manhattan els into the Bronx.  Other cities, such as Philadelphia, Boston, Chicago and perhaps Kansas City as well had their el lines as well, with Chicago perhaps being more famous for having els more  than Manhattan.  With the development of subways, the pressure to get rid of els increased because they were considered eyesores as well.  In an very interesting blog called "Ephemeral New York", some of the topics covered here, such as gas tanks, old buildings and els are discussed in detail.  I came across some interesting drawings made in the 1930's on one of our favorite subjects, the els of Manhattan.  These drawing are posted in their blog.

In the drawing below, by Francis Criss is a 1933 drawing titled "Third Avenue El".
This somewhat abstract drawing also contains a "Bishop Crook" streetlamp.

The next drawing is etching by Martin Lewis (1931) and shows the el station at 6th Avenue and 23rd Street in a winter storm.

  You really get the feeling of being in Manhattan on a snowy day  I know how it feels.  What a wonderful drawing showing the period clothes and the postures of the people on the street.  Under the staircase is a small news booth.

Our last drawing was drawn in 1934 by Charles L. Goeller and is titled "Third Avenue".

 This drawing is in a different style than the two above.  Notice the space rocket like famous New York skyscraper and of course, a few of my Bishop Crook streetlamps. 

More discussion will hopefully follow in the future.

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.