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Tuesday, January 31, 2012

New York Railways Track Plan Circa 1933

The above map comes from my archive of maps drawn by B. Linder.  It is from the January 1987 edition of the New York Division ERA Bulletin, Vol. 30, Number 1, page 3.   The map shows Manhattan Street Car Lines except for the Third Avenue Railway System from 100 Street to 32nd Street before abondonment.  The 42nd Street Crosstown line was owned by the Third Avenue Railway System and does not show up.  Anyway, you can see the profile of the line and the many interconnections. 
  1. The system was extensive
  2. The system was flexible
  3. Route extension could have been possible.
  4. In the early years of the 20th Century, the 42 Steet Line could have been extended to Queens by the Queensborough bridge for a short period of time.  This is not clearly shown on the map.

Friday, January 27, 2012

34 th Street Crosstown Trackage Map

This streetcar trackage map comes from the following source: 
Linder, B, "34th Street Crosstown", New York Division ERA Bulletin, March 1988, Vol. 31, Number 3, Page 6.


Wednesday, January 25, 2012

West 42 nd Street with 1924 Aerial Photograph

In the map below, please see if you can see the earlier four track layout on West 42 nd Street at 12 th Avenue.

42nd Street Streetcar Track Map by B Linder

Manhattan Streetcars were very different from the system running in Brooklyn and elsewhere.  For start, most Manhattan streetcars got their power from an underground conduit in the middle of the two running rails.  Most Manhattan streetcars did not have trolley poles, although some that ran into the Bronx did.  Only short stretches of track in upper Manhattan had small segments of overhead trolley.  The track map for 42nd Street has its source listed on the map: New York Division, ERA, September 2002, Vol.45, No. 9, Page 4.  Map drawn by J. Erlitz from original data by B. Linder

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

East End of Church Avenue Line with Aerial 1924 Shot of PRW

Area Near Kensington (16 Avenue) Loop Today

Many people in Borough Park do not know that before there was a trolley bus on 16 th Avenue, there was a regular streetcar line that was a branch of the Church Avenue Line.  The 16 th Avenue Streetcar did not run on Cortelyou Road but ran on McDonald Avenue to Church Avenue, turned east and ran to about Utica Avenue.  Original street trackage diagrams are from B. Linder's maps of the McDonald Avenue Line (1979).

Monday, January 23, 2012

Church Avenue Line Prior to 1930 (Source: New York Div. ERA Bulletin, B. Linder, Vol.22 No . 8 August 1979, P.2.)

Old Layout
Does Rapid Transit follow the people or does it create communities?  In the map above, census data from the 2000 Census was applied against existing rapid transit routes, bus and subway.  The Church Avenue route is shown in red since it is the focus of many of my blogs.  It seems to the eye, that as we go away from areas of good rapid transit coverage, the population concentration drops.  Good candidates for streetcars would be areas that are far away from rapid transit but still have moderate to high concentration of population.  The Church Avenue route today as bus and the past as a trolley, always had good usage because the east end of the route is far away from the Nostand Avenue subway.  The census tract from the 1950's is not shown here so we really cannot compare 1956 (date of abandonment) and today.

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Church Avenue PCC Approaches First Avenue Loop on a Snowy Day

This PCC car is headed west on the private-right-of-way north of 39 th Street between First and Second Avenues.  This picture, taken from Dave's Rail Pix was probably shot between 1951 to 1956, the period when PCC cars were assigned to the Church Avenue Line.  If you Google  Maps 3900 First Avenue Brooklyn, you can see that many of the factory builings standing in the picture are still with us today.

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Friday, January 20, 2012

Location of Streetcar and Trolleybus Routes prior to bustitution: 1955-60 (Approx. Layout)

Thank you, Bernard Linder and ERA for your track maps! Church Avenue Line 1923-56

In this blog, I will be using a wonderful source. The New York Division  " Bulletin " of the Electric Railroader's Association produced in the 1970's streetcar trackage maps of almost all of the Brooklyn Trolley Lines.  I have many such maps.  These pen and ink drawing were drawn by Bernard Linder in connection with historical data provided by Edward B. Watson.  The first line that I will study is the Church Avenue Line and the data comes from the August 1979 (Vol 22 Number 8) and October 1977 (Vol 20 Number 5) of the New York Division Bulletin.  These pen drawings provide such much historical information that I believe is not available anyplace else.    The pictures show here come from Dave's Rail Pix and I all can I say that they provide so much to the analysis.

Street Trackage Map: Source: B. Linder

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Location of the PRW at the east end of the Church Avenue Trolley

Please find below the location of the Private Right of way that existed at the east end of the Church Avenue Trolley. This map was drawn by B. Linder and is found on Page 6 of the New York Division ERA Bulletin of August, 1979. For the information provided by the source above, it seems that the PRW was no longer used in 1928 and that the Hegeman Avenue street trackage was used instead. Also, the loop at Hegeman Aven;ue and Chester Street opened in 1938 so that single ended cars could be placed on the Church Avenue Line. PCC cars started to run on Church on February 11, 1951 probably as other streetcar lines were abandoned at that time.,178242&c=GIS1924&s=a:100,HEGEMAN+AVENUE,BROOKLYN It would be interesting to see what this private right of way looked like over the years. Copy the address above to your browser and see if you could hook up with the City of New York Department of Planning. It should bring you to a map centered at 100 Hegeman Avenue which is near the location of the PRW. See if you can bring up aerial photographs of the spot from 1924, 1951 and so on. As the years go by, the shadow of the PRW disappears. See the footprint of buildings today in the area. Tramway Null(0)

Church Avenue Line 1923-56

The Church Avenue Line with its' sister, the McDonald Avenue Line died on October 31, 1956. On that same day, the Cortelyou Road trolleybus also died. The Church Avenue line was unique in that it had its own separate two track tunnel crossing Ocean Parkway. If we follow the model of last out first in, the Church Avenue Line would be a good candidate for revival. The question is, should the entire line be equipped with streetcars? Looking at the track diagrams, we see that the line ran over some private right of way trackage in the Sunset Park area between first and second avenues off 39 th Street. At the other end, a trolley loop at Bristol Street was also in a private right of way. The Church Avenue line today is a busy one, and I do not have the statistics at hand, but in 1989 there were plans that called for the conversion of this line to trolleybus (trackless trolley) along with the Bx-12 route in the Bronx. Of course, nothing ever came of these plans. In its' last days, the Church Avenue Trolley started at a loop at First Avenue and runs along a private right of way until Second Avenue, It curved slightly on Second Avenue and turned east on 39 th Street, going up a hill. Along 39 Street, there was in the past turnouts for the 3 rd Avenue Line, the Fifth Avenue Line, the 8th Avenue Line and yes, the West End Trolley at 39 th Street and New Utrecht Avenue. The West End Trolley was never replaced with a bus after the line died around 1948. At 39 th Street and 13 th Avenue, the line makes a sharp curve and runs east on 13 th Avenue to 37 Street. At this point, the lines crosses the South Brooklyn Railway trolley-freight tracks and makes a sharp curve east. At this point, I remember near the beginning of Church Avenue there was a stub track leading to the former Nassau Electric yards. More about this later. the line now enters Church Avenue and joins and crosses the McDonald Avenue Line. This was a complicated junction with many curves. The line goes underground for a short distance crossing Ocean Parkway. The line surfaces and crosses the Coney Island Avenue Line that died in 1955. The line continues and crosses Flatbush Avenue and crosses Rogers Avenue. At Rogers Avenue, there was what is called a "Wye" that allows for a single ended car, such as a PCC car to reverse directions without a loop. Nostrand Avenue and Utica Avenues Lines are crossed as well, There was a branch at East 98 th Street but I do not know what line this connected to. At Hegeman Avenue, there was a small PRW at the loop and there was a turnout to the Carnarsie Depot. In a future blog, I will show the approximate location of a much bigger PRW that ran from East 98 th Street to Rockaway Avenue. This private right of way was in operation until 1928 and it could be seen by aerial photographs of the area in 1924 and 1951. According to Edward B. Watson, a trolley historian, the Church Avenue Line used 11, 8, and presently 35 as its' route numbers. Over the years, many other trolley routes used the Church Avenue trackage to reach Coney Island or Sheepshead Bay.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Streetcars and Spatial Analysis - Picture Credit: Frank Pfuhler Collection - Dave's RailPix-- 1015 at First Avenue Loop

If you came to this blog, you probably love streetcars and perhaps trolleybuses as much as I do.  I live in Brooklyn, New York which is part of New York City.  The last streetcar that was city owned ran in October 1956 and I remember it, although I was in the first grade.  Trolleybuses, as someone said, is transit's stepchild, also ran in Brooklyn.  I remember them on the Cortelyou Road route in Flatbush.  The last trolley bus ran in Brooklyn in July, 1960.   As you probably know, streetcars, also known as light rail, are coming back all over the world including many cities in the United States.  Unfortunately, they do not appear to be coming back to Brooklyn or in the other boroughs despite the efforts of various groups such as Vision 42 or Brooklyn Historical Railway Association.
       About a year ago, Yonah Freemark wrote an interesting blog asking the theoretical question:  If streetcars did come back to Brooklyn, what would that system look like?  He produced a great map that stole my thunder.  I will comment on his map later but for now, I would like to present the aims of this blog:

1)  If streetcars came back to Brooklyn, what routes would they run on?  What would a map of these routes look like?  Would the route be the same as in 1956?  What routes do you think should come back and why?  How about streetcar and or trolley bus routes in other parts of the city? 
What do you think about "peak oil" and electric surface transportation and how about trolley boats and trolley trucks in a limited oil environment?  We all know that electric surface transportation is good for the environment.  Perhaps we can show this using maps.

2)  How can I make better maps using ESRI ARCGIS to display this information?

3)  How can I use some of the geoanalytical techniques available in ARCGIS for making better maps that show proposed streecar lines?  For example, should new streetcar routes be established in neighborhoods that are far away from existing subway/bus lines and have light/heavy concentration of population?

4)  If my edition of ARCGIS cannot do not regression analysis, can I use Geoda or "R" to do analysis for proposed routes?  What methodology should I use? and finally:

5) Although not streetcar related, what geospatial /analytical techniques can I to study isolated communities that receive a form of social services if I have demographic and other type of census data including rapid transit line data?  What software do you suggest other than ARCGIS, Geoda, or "R" can I use to study isolated populations?

Church Avenue Track Map

Church Avenue Track Map. Source: B. Linder

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

In this map, I used ARCGIS and New York Subway and Bus Line shape files to produce a map what streetcar lines and trolleybus lines existed and their routes (as close as I can) during the period of 1955 to 1960 when all electric surface transportation was abandoned.  Since I did not have shape files of the old trolley and trolley bus lines, I had to use modern bus routes (from three years ago) to produce a map that approaches the electric transportation coverage at time of abandonment.