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Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Are Bus Lines Permanent vs. Streetcar Lines?






This photo was taken from the New York City Transit Museum.  It is from the Luden Collection and was photographed on April 16, 1948.   You are looking east at the intersection of McDonald Avenue and Cortelyou Road in Brooklyn.  The photographer is probably standing directly underneath the Culver Line ( main line ) as it swings north westerly.  The structure that you are looking at is the untracked ( except perhaps for the local Manhattan bound track ) connection to the Independent Subway that did not open yet.  In the foreground you can see the track shadows of the Culver El.  The connection to the Independent Subway was not yet put in place and would not be in operation until four years later  in October, 1954.  Notice the various wooden troughs for the trolley wires under the el on McDonald Avenue for the # 50 Streetcar.  Notice at right angles to the el structure, a broad wooden trough for the Cortelyou Road trolleybus (#23) overhead.
   This week, news came out that the mayor of the City of New York, Bill Di Blasio gave his seal of approval for a long waterfront streetcar line from Astoria Queens to Sunset Park in Brooklyn. To my surprise, there is not universal approval for this proposal.  One of the critic points is that a bus line can serve the same purpose for the fraction of the cost.  Some people say that bus lines can be eliminated rapidly while streetcar lines cannot.  The Cortelyou Road line started as a streetcar line on 16th Avenue.  In the early 1930's, the BMT corporation experimented with the first trolleybuses in Brooklyn on this line.  The wood trough above is probably when the line went into operation in 1932?.  To make a long story short, the line was bustituted on October 31, 1956 and remained a diesel bus line until a few years ago when it was completely ELIMINATED.  It is funny that the first trolleybus line in Brooklyn, probably which had many passengers was later eliminated when it was a diesel bus line. If a company wants to make an real estate investment, bus lines can come and go according to politics, but tracks and wires are difficult to ignore... but look what happened to also Route 23 in Phildadelphia:  Germantown Avenue.   More to follow later.

Monday, February 1, 2016

Some People Like it Hot



This interesting photo is from the Trolleybus Facebook page.  The origin is a Russian transit group.

 http://transphoto.ru/photo/745223/


 When you first look at this photo, it is hard to see where the flames are coming from.  How do you get the wire to heat up several centimeters from the trolley shoes?  Looking again you will see two burners, with a gas supply attached to the trolleypoles by what looks to be tape.  How resourceful!

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Al Ponte's Time Machine - New York



Exploring subchat, I came across a posting for "Al Ponte's Time Machine - New York" on Facebook.

https://www.facebook.com/Al-Pontes-Time-Machine-New-York-519902318143809/photos_stream

Here is a great collection of very good photographs from various sources, many of which I did not see before, particularly concerning our beloved Church Avenue Trolley.  The photographs seem to cover the following areas:

  • Bronx street scenes some with streetcars.
  • Brooklyn street scenes some with streetcars.
  • Manhattan street scenes, particularly downtown, Times Square, Columbus Circle, some with trolleys.
  • Queens street scenes, particularly showing airports, the 1964 World's Fair, Shea Stadium, Flushing Line, Queensborough Bridge and Astoria.
  • Some Staten Island photographs, some showing trolley tracks.
  • Stadium construction scenes.
  • Subway car pictures, particularly old IRT equipment.
  • Some el scenes from Manhattan and the Bronx.
  • A series of shots showing the Church Avenue Trolley in Brooklyn, some you saw before, some you did not.



There is a focus on Times Square and Radio City Center through several decades.

I was not able to view all pictures, but one impression is that many of the street scenes in the Bronx shows a great deal of streetcar trackage.  The streetcar system, in the five boroughs, including Staten Island, was more extensive that I thought.  What a waste that it was totally destroyed.  Of the 100's of present day bus lines in New York City, would not one of them meet the engineering criteria to be converted to streetcar?


  In this undated picture from Al Ponte's Time Machine, a Church Avenue trolley bound for First Avenue is running west on 13th Avenue. It just crossed under the Culver El at 37th Street.  The black "things" under the el are wooden holders for the South Brooklyn Railway trolley wires.  I posted a picture taken facing the opposite direction in this blog.  The red building at the south west corner, adjacent to the trolley shows up in pictures of the area before the el was constructed in 1919-20 and it exists today.  

  In this undated picture, probably in the 1950's a street picture near Gimbel's at 34th Street and 6th Avenue.  The focus is on the sign that says "Independent Subway".  This sign shows classic IND styling and probably is from the 1940's.  The "Hudson and Manhattan Tunnels" refers to the current day PATH system between Manhattan and New Jersey.  33 Street is the terminal for the PATH train as well.



In this undated photo, from the same source, we are inside an IRT subway car perhaps in the 1940's.  The type of car may be a "Low V".  Notice how carefully the passengers fold their newspapers.  Notice also the sign system used then:  A series of metallic plates show terminals and routes.  This is a 7th Avenue Express running between New Lots Avenue in Brooklyn and 242nd Street - Van Cortlandt Park in the Bronx.  The box below the plates, I called it (as a child) an index box where all the plates are kept.  They even had indexed tabs.  It is surprising that no one took them.  There were two sets per car.  The car had  overhead fans as well.

  In this undated photo, a Church Avenue Trolley bound for First Avenue and headed west on Church Avenue just cleared the Ocean Parkway Tunnel and is about to pick up passengers.  This is near East 5th Street.  I showed in the blog other pictures of the area taken from different orientations.  The date must be between 1951 and 1956.  On the horizon, if the tree was not there, you would see the gas tanks on Clarkson Avenue and the Kings County Hospital tower.
  This picture I never saw before.  This is what I believe a Bristol Street Church Avenue Queen Anne special car #1000 crossing 10th Avenue and 39th Street under the West End Line (presently the D train).  This structure here does not show the cat walk.  It is curving to approach the Ninth Avenue Station on the surface.  The trolley support pole on the right I believe is on the northern side of the street like elsewhere along the route.



Another undated photo from Al Ponte's Time Machine.  This appears to be in the IRT subway based on the IRT style map, which did not show BMT or IRT routes. The map does not include the 6th or 9th Avenue Els, so this had to be after 1940.  Notice that the IRT Queensborough subway had two branches:  Flushing and Astoria.

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Using a Spatial Join to add new Geological Data to a earthquake history file.

The map below is an ARCGIS map that included an layer from the Rutger's University Map Lab dealing with the geologic composition of the earth.  Once I added this layer, it was possible to do a spatial join with the earthquake history layer.  What a spacial join does is add to the Earthquake History table the soil type at each eartquake point.  Once doing this using ARCGIS , it is possible to produce a report.  The spatial join can be done using ARCGIS's toolbox and is quite simple.

The report below was produced using ARCGIS's report facility.  This is available when you bring up the source table.  Some summary statistics is available at the end of the table, showing max and min and standard deviations on some of this earthquake data from New Jersey















Monday, January 18, 2016

Regarding the Closure of the East River "L" Train Tunnels



Last week, we have been informed that the MTA is planning to close the East River tunnels of the 14th Street Canarsie Line (L Train) for a period of time in order to repair water damage from Hurricane Sandy.  It is not clear if the tunnels would be closed for a period of months or for weekends.  The problem is that the "L" train is one of the most busiest lines in the city with little parallel services near by.  For its western part, the "L" train is isolated from other subway services.  The "L" train runs along 14th Street  in Manhattan from 8th Avenue eastward toward Canarsie in the eastern part of the borough.  The "L" train serves the Lower East Side of Manhattan and the now popular sections of Williamsburgh and Bushwick in Brooklyn.

  There is presently a discussion in subchat and elsewhere how to lessen the impact of a closure of part of this busy line.  Proposals such as express bus service, BRT, increased service on the surround lines such as the J, Z and G lines has been mentioned.  In a very interesting New York Division Bulletin of the Electric Railroaders' Association (Vol. 32, No. 8, pp. 1, 4,  August, 1989)  "Transit Authority's New Initiatives" lists a number of projects that if money came available, the transit authority would like to do.   Looking back over these 28 years shows that some of these proposals came to pass.  For the subject at hand, see this proposal:  "Installation of two crossovers between the A and G lines south of Hoyt-Schermerhorn Streets, IND  Division, to allow E, F and R trains from Queens to reach Manhattan via the Eight Avenue Line.


Please see the track map obtained from NYCsubway.org.  Believe it or not, there is no track connection between the G and A and C trains at this point.  I am not sure if a retaining wall would need to be removed.  Basically, if constructed, some G trains going south would be able to cross over to the Manhattan bound A/C train tracks and proceed to Manhattan.  This would allow  Williamsburgh residents who live near the G train have direct access to Manhattan without transferring .  Going home from Manhattan, some G trains on Eight Avenue Tracks would switch to the G train tracks going north.    Such a service would create and endless loop if this new service started from Forest Hills 71st Avenue.  Let us call this a "Y" train. It would start at Forest Hills, go to Manhattan via Queens Boulevard, Manhattan via 53rd or 63rd Street tunnels, either via A, C or F trains to Brooklyn.  Switch at Hoyt-Schermerhorn to the G train tracks and return to Williamsburgh and Queens Boulevard to it's origin at 71st Avenue!

There are many "ifs" about this:

  1. Does the transit authority have extra cars to equip these new services?
  2. How much would these switches cost to install?
  3. How long would it take... are major changes to the infrastructure required?
  4. Would direct service to Manhattan for G line users help their situation when the L line is closed?
  5. How long would it take to install?
  6. If there is not enough equipment, where can this "Y" service be turned in Manhattan?
  7. Can the Cranberry Street Tube (A, C) between High Street and Fulton Street carry more trains per hour?
All this has to be analyzed by experts.  It is interesting that this was proposed in 1989 as another was for Queens E, F and R trains to reach Manhattan should a blockage occur in western Queens.

Please see trackmap attached:  Notice no track connection between the G train tracks (green) and the A or C train tracks (blue).  A crossover would allow some  southbound G trains to venture in Manahatan.  Question:  Where can they be turned?  I mentioned above a hypothetical loop from Forest Hills to Forest Hills.  The Culver Line, probably between 1954 and 56 also had a loop line that started and ended at Ditmas Avenue during rush hours.


Friday, January 15, 2016

Philadelphia Transportation Map with NJ Earthquake Sites in NJ

  The above map was produced in QGIS.  I was able to bring in the Rutger's University Map Lab shape files dealing with earthquakes in New Jersey.  In the lower right of the map, several earthquake sites are shown as red dots that are numbered.  The transit and typology map is an add on that is available in QGIS.  The Philadelphia area is not only rich in American history, but it has a nice selection of forms of transit that this blog is interested in.  Although Philadelphia has lost much of its' surface electric transit, some remain and perhaps some of it will be upgraded.  I wish the city luck.

Tramway Null(0)

This map produced in QGIS shows the earthquake sites Number 4 and 84 very close to the Burlington Pike.  This site is just northwest of the highway and 430 meters from the Florence station of the River Light Rail Line.   Earthquake reference  number 4 occurred in the 1800's an number 84 in 1986.  The two earthquakes were of low magnitude.  This is a rural area.


This is the Florence station on the River Line.  This image was obtained from a plug in in QGIS and shows the surface view at any road point chosen on the above map.  This station is about 430 meters away from the earthquake sites(s) slightly to the east.

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Earthquakes and Fault Lines in Northern New Jersey



During last weekend, I heard that there was a earthquake in northern New Jersey.  One radio report told us that it was even felt in Brooklyn.  I visited Rutger's University map site and after several clicks, you can download several maps into shape files dealing with New Jersey geography and geology.  One download dealt with New Jersey earthquakes in the past to now.  I downloaded the file and brought it up in ARCGIS.  Looking at the table,  I noticed that there was as entry for last week's earthquake:
Here are some of the entries:

  Ringwood Boro, Passaic County, 1/2/2016, 5:58 am,  Lat. 41.1298,  depth= 8.38 km.    Magnitude: 2.07, Location: 2.4km  NW of Ringwood, N.J.

In the map above, I brought in some shape files that I downloaded several years ago.  The January 2, 2016 earthquake location is shown by a green star.  Light rail lines in red.  Earthquake sites are shown by a color coded dot based on the magnitude of the quake.  I used Jenkins-Box to assign the various ranges.  The highest magnitude is in red.  Each earthquake site shows the date of the quake and the magnitude.   I also brought in fault lines (from a download of several years ago) and a raster file of elevations in NewJersey.  The higher the location, the lighter the color. Notice that the non-electric light rail line that goes to Camden sits on the site of a prior earthquake.

Folks, do not make any decisions on this map.  I am not a geologist.  I am just having some fun with maps and I hope you find this information useful.
Tramway Null(0)


  25 Earthquake Sites are within 500 Feet of a Fault:  Analysis Done by ARGIS.  A buffer of 500 Feet was set up around the fault shape file data.   Those sites within this buffer are shown.  They represent 13.1% of the total.  Notice that southern NJ does not seem to have fault lines?