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Thursday, December 8, 2016

Did Your Transit System go through a "Brutal" Stage?

  Many complex systems, living and non-living, can be viewed as going through various stages.  This can also be applied to nations, organizations and so much more.  Thus a system could be viewed as being  at a new born state, going through a childhood, leading to maturity, adulthood, middle age and old age.  Can the same viewpoint be applied to your transit system or a particular line?  In my unscientific, not researched view, I believe that the New York City Transit System ( bus and subway ) went through such a stage roughly from 1963 to the late 1980's.   We are not assured that a system cannot revert to such a stage again.   What is a brutal stage? Is it a stage of economic loss,  grafitti covering everything and no hope?  This may be part of it.   During this period at least for the New York Transit System, some extensions took place (Crystie Street, Sixth Avenue, Essex - Lafayette) and so on, but many lines were abandoned: ( 3rd Avenue El in the Bronx, the Myrtle Avenue El in Brooklyn, The Bowling Green Shuttle on the IRT, the east end of the BMT Jamaica Line, the Culver Shuttle and so on ).  One aspect of Brutalization would be dealing with the passenger comfort environment.  I noticed that from the 50's on, the use of windows on buses and subways in New York City decreased.  Windowed wind screens, made of wood and glass, were a fixture of many older elevated stations.  When these wind screens became shabby, they were replaced by ugly sheets of metal.  Windows on the IND Prospect Park Line viaduct (Smith-9th Street and 4th Avenue) were cinder blocked up.  Any light coming into the subway (Fourth Avenue Line) was blocked up by making ventilation grates narrower.  Standee windows, on buses, were eliminated and comfortable seats near windows were eliminated.  In the picture below, taken from , a GM Fishbowl bus with advertising panels is resting at the end of the subway system at Stillwell Avenue - Coney Island in Brooklyn in the 1970's.   A  marked West End train is above (R27-30 ?) and the Coney Island gas tank is towards the left hand side of the photo above the West End subway train.

The bus below, with lighted advertising panels, with the J&B Liquer ad was an iconic bus during the years around 1964 - 1980's, specially in Manhattan.   It was nice to look at but the advertising panels hid the view of standees in the fishbowl.  The seating was not so comfortable as well.  The top photo comes from and  is from the Richard Panse collection from 2008.  This was taken at the 2008 Bus Rodeo at Floyd Bennett Field.  The bus is a fish bowl with standee windows and a interesting seating arrangement.  I believe the red seats in the back on near the windows.  Buses similar to this in the 1960's to 1970's in New York had a U shape seating configuration with no seats near the window accept the last two at the back left and right windows.  If the bus had advertising panels like the one below, the standee windows were gone.  Let me see, no air conditioning,  hard to see where you are going if you are standing because nothing is visible at eye level, no seats near windows, hard seats, diesel oil smell... what a good transit experience!  If you sat in the back going over a broken street at a hill in the Bronx, you had a bumpy ride and you may hit the ceiling!  Now that is brutal transit.

To be continued....

Thursday, December 1, 2016

December 3 is the 60th Anniversary of the Luckenbach Steamship Disaster

  It has been sixty years since that disaster, at 3:15 pm on December 3, 1956.  It is interesting that around December 12, 2016, there will be community planning meetings dealing with the route of the proposed Brooklyn - Queens connector streetcar.  Various streets are considered, including Second or Third Avenues which is close to the former site of the disaster at the waterfront and 35th Street.  One map shows the line going down 39th Street between 2nd and 3rd Avenues.  This area is rich in transit history and was near the former route of the Church Avenue trolley at 39th Street and Second Avenue, four street blocks away from the former explosion site.

Map from Sunset Park Patch:

  You can see the general location of the disaster on the map.  35th Street and the waterfront.  The map shows possible routes for the Brooklyn-Queens streetcar.

The picture below comes from the organization that is sponsoring the streetcar connector.

The picture shown here is near 35th Street and 3rd Avenue, about three avenue blocks away from the former disaster site.  Notice the highway structure.  An eyewitness who had a store near 40th Street and 3rd Avenue in 1956 told me that as a result of the explosion, a piece of the highway fell on the head of a young kid  near 40th Street and 3rd Avenue on that day and the kid passed away.  There were many fatalities in the area, especially on the waterfront.

Friday, November 18, 2016

532 Neptune Avenue and the Culver El

The above photo was taken from YIMBY, a New York  real estate website.   The source is S9 Architecture.   If completed, this 40 story tower will be the tallest residential tower in the southern part of Brooklyn near the Atlantic Ocean.  I posted this story before, but what is interesting for rapid transit fans is the rendering of the Culver El in the foreground.   Although built during the "Dual Contracts" period of around 1919-20, this section of elevated structure is not similar to other el structures built during this time and along the same line, but consisted of parts supposedly from the reconstruction of the Fulton Street Elevated Line in another part of Brooklyn.  So we may say that old meets new in this picture.  This is near the Neptune Avenue stop on the "F", Culver El.   This area is so very rich in rapid transit history.

This picture is so cool.

Tramway Null(0)

Thursday, November 17, 2016

16th Avenue and 72nd Street New Utrecht Intersection: Altitude Error

The two maps shown below were produced in QGIS.  I brought in the contour file of altitude that I used before and I brought in the subway line file which shows the B train tracks over New Utrecht Avenue Brooklyn.  The vertical line that I mentioned in earlier posts crosses New Utrecht Avenue at 16th Avenue and 72nd Street.  In one map, I brought in the elevations and the elevation does not vary that much from 10 or 11 meters.  In the vertical error line, there is no variation as expected.  A  Google street view of the  area shows nothing unusual.

Monday, November 14, 2016

What is this vertical line?

  Hi Folks:

 In the past, I presented a lot of maps produced in ARCGIS.  One of the strange observations was  when a map was produced of altitude in Brooklyn, a strange line, 90 degrees to the horizontal appears from around the 62nd Street - New Utrecht Avenue station (D and N Trains) and stretches south to Coney Island.  Since altitude maps or data may be based on aerial observation, perhaps a seam in the photos cause such an image.   My source for altitude in Brooklyn in my previous maps was not ARCGIS.   Nevertheless, today I added an ARCGIS online basemap and behold, the same line appears.  In the past, I used Google Maps to pass over the area and I did not detect any sort of construction or ridge that would generate such an effect from a street level view.  What do you think it is?  See my map above and look for "What is this?"  in red.  You can see the vertical shadow.  Is this a map in code, an error caused by splicing the photos together, or something that exists?  Sorry for spelling errors in the map title.

Sunday, November 6, 2016

Does the "N" stop at Dekalb Avenue during Rush Hours?

  The title was " Monsters of New York Creepy Criters Cuddle Strangers...".  In this series, I posted the one picture dealing with ET's.  The artist that drew this series is very talented.  I remember on the old "Ed Sullivan Show" on CBS in New York that one of the old time comedians had this routine:

Girl:  "Mama, Mama, the martians are coming!"

Mother:  " Let them come, I have milk, cake..."

The martians in this picture are walking with bare feet.  I hope they do not step into something nasty on the subway.  The martian in the middle looks like he/she is about to get a migraine.  The martian on the right with the finger pointing at the map is saying, or mentally communicating:  " We should have taken the IND instead of the BMT!"

Tramway null(0)

This picture was obtained from subchat and has been on the web at various locations.

Saturday, November 5, 2016

Interesting Picture of Proposed Streetcar Service on Berry Street in Williamsburg Brooklyn

The above picture comes from the "Next City" website and was probably obtained from the group that is trying to establish a Brooklyn - Queens waterfront line.  This week we were informed that various streets will be studied for the possible route of this line.  Neighborhood feedback will take place in the coming months.  Various factors, such as street geometry, isolation from the transit system, catchment areas and so on will be studied.  On such route is Berry Street in Brooklyn which is pictured above.  What is interesting is not choice of street but that this is the first picture from this project that shows overhead wires.  The clamps, or clovis, or insulators that are holding up the wires are also unusual.  Perhaps the group may acknowledge that wireless operation may have its' problems or did the artist just compile this picture this way?