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Saturday, March 31, 2012

Gravesend (McDonald) Avenue Line: 1912-1920 Layout

Source:  B. Linder, New York Division Bulletin, Electric Railroaders' Association, Vol. 20, No.5, October 1977, pages 2-9.  This map shows the period when 5th Avenue Elevated trains ran on the surface using trolley poles for power on Gravesend Avenue..  After the elevated structure opened over Gravesend Avenue during the period of 1919-20, another layout was established in which the low level platforms shown above were gradually removed.   Culver-5th Avenue Elevated trains used the new structure since 1919. The trackage shown on Gravesend Avenue ( which became McDonald Avenue in 1935) was also used by trolley freight locomotives run by the South Brooklyn Railway.  There is much to discuss here; trolley freight operations, sidings, summer only trolley specials on Gravesend Avenue and if you look closely, there is race track siding at Avenue T for the Brooklyn Jockey Club.  Hope to discuss this in the future.  Tramway Null(0)

Friday, March 30, 2012

Brooklyn Bridge as seen from Manhattan Bridge 3-29-12

This picture taken last night from the Manhattan Bridge faces south towards the Brooklyn Bridge.  Like the Brooklyn Bridge, the Manhattan Bridge is rich in transit history.  The Manhattan Bridge today carries four rapid transit subway tracks for 6th Avenue and Broadway subway services.  Many years ago, the Manhattan Bridge had a shuttle trolley that used regular overhead and at one time, I believe a set of tracks existed on the upper roadways that had a conduit that allowed some Manhattan streetcar lines that used conduits to travel as far east as downtown Brooklyn near the Manhattan Bridge extrance.  Note:  All photos shot so far for this blog is from the photography of docjayva.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

4th and Madison Avenue Streetcar Line (Manhattan) 1919 - 1933 Track Map

Source: B. Linder, New York Division Bulletin, ERA, Vol. 30, No. 7, July, 1987, pages 4-5.
The 4th & Madison Avenue Streetcar Line started its' life early as a very early horsecar line in 1832 and was electrified in 1898.  This line like most Manhattan streetcar lines used an underground conduit for its' power source.  The line was long and ran  from 135th Street and Madison to the old post office at Park Row.  The line ran under the 3rd Avenue El on the Bowery and had a short lived branch to Brooklyn via the Williamsburg Bridge at Delancy Street.  Some Manhattan streetcars crossed the Williamsburg Bridge to Bridge Plaza in Brooklyn using conduit track directly to the plaza.  Brooklyn streetcars at that plaza used trolley wire.  The Williamsburg Bridge branch service lasted from 1907 to 1920 only.  The entire line was replaced by buses according to the material supplied by B. Linder in 1935.  Notice the tunnel at 34th Street and Park Avenue South, which is in use today by automobiles.

Monday, March 26, 2012

When is an "EL" not an "EL"?

These two photographs taken this morning from a Manhattan bound F train on the "Culver Viaduct".  The top photo shows lower Manhattan as the train is about to enter the Smith-9th Street station which is the highest in the NYC subway system.  The second photo, take a few moments later as the train is going down the incline to the Carroll Street station which is underground.  The "Culver Viaduct" is a concrete covered steel structure which is going under rehabilitation.  The foreground of the second photograph, where you can see green grass, was the former site of large natural gas gas tanks.  Beyond the grass is the Gowanus Canal and the high Smith-9th Street station that goes over the canal.  I believe the former gas tank site is a very toxic site and nothing can be built over it.  The viaduct was constructed in the late 1920's and opened in the early 1930's for the new Independent Subway Prospect Park Line.  The traditional BMT Culver Line, that reached Manhattan by way of the 5th Avenue El and the Brooklyn Bridge or the BMT subway on 4th Avenue and through the Montague Street tunnel, never used this trackage.  When the IND Prospect Park Line was extended to Coney Island via the BMT Culver Line south of Church Avenue in 1954, the line became know as "Concourse - Culver ", but on the old R1-9 equipment, this name was never applied and the train was simply known as the "D" train,  or "Houston Street - 6th Avenue Express" . Only many years later, after 1967, did the rerouted "F" train became know as the "Culver Line".

Friday, March 23, 2012

Your Track Guide to the "3rd Avenue El" Movie

Many years ago, when I vistited the New York City Transit Museum, in the film area they were playing the attached short movie.  This short movie has great nostalgic value and has great classical music that is coordinated with the film.  Using my previously posted maps of the "3rd Avenue El" before abandonment, you can get a better picture of what area that the train covers.  This short film starts in the downtown financial district but does not end uptown at Gun Hill Road in the Bronx.  Instead it covers mainly Manhattan.  My best parts are the serpentine "S" curve at Coenties Slip and the drawbridge scene at the Harlem River.  This film also shows what I call another Icon of New York City, the BISHOP CROOK Street Lamps that frame the Coenties Slip scene.  Thousands of these lamps were all around the city. The film seems to have been shot before the section from Chatham Square to South Ferry was abandoned around 1950.

  • The starting scenes that show a two track elevated structure and station between high buildings is probably at the Hanover Square Station, or Fulton Street or Franklin Square stations.
  • The El going around an "S" curve at both day and night scenes are at Coenties Slip.
  • Notice the El going under the Brooklyn Bridge.
  • Views of the El showing long stretches of staight track are on 3rd Avenue.
  • "Drunk" scenes are along the Bowery and the brewery is probably in Yorkville near East 86 Street..
  • Although two level express stations at 9th Street, 23rd Street, 42nd Street, 106 Street and 125th Street are not shown, you can see the raising of the middle express track in some places.
  • Views of two layer elevated track a few inches away from the back of apartment and tenement houses is probably in the Bronx just north of the Harlem River but south of 149th Street where the track was built over a private right of way.  (This may be in another video.)
  • Notice the great drawbridge scene that is coordinated with the great Haydn music.
  • You may get to view for a few seconds the area where the 133 Street yard is when you see the El crossing the Harlem River.
  • Notice the stations and the lattice type of iron work and the great stained glass windows.
I hope you enjoy the film:  Tramway Null(0)

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Fifth Avenue El in Brooklyn - South Section - 1937

Source:  B. Linder, New York Division Bulletin, Vol. 42, No. 12, December, 1999, Page 3.

In the track plan of the southern section, notice the trackage on 3rd Avenue and an interesting stub terminal at 65 Street and Third Avenue ( Brooklyn )  that had trolley service run up a ramp and ended on the elevated structure at the southern end.  This service seems to have ended in 1919.  It seems that the Fifth Avenue El was not upgraded because it was only one block away from the BMT 4th Avenue Subway.
Tramway Null(0)

Fifth Avenue El in Brooklyn - North Section - 1932-1940

Source:  B. Linder, New York Division Bulletin, Vol. 42, No. 12, December, 1999, Page 2.
In my last several posts, I wrote about the Third Avenue El in Manhattan.  The Third Avenue El on its' route to South Ferry passed underneath the Brooklyn Bridge.  The Brooklyn Bridge carried many Brooklyn Elevated lines, of which the Fifth Avenue Line is one of them.  The elevateds that ran over the Brooklyn Bridge ran to Park Row where passengers transferred to the City Hall Station of the Third Avenue El. In the map section shown, you can see the track layout at the Park Row Station.  The Fifth Avenue El was a two track el that never got upgraded somewhat.  It is interesting to note that that a branch of the Fifth Avenue El ran on Third Avenue in Brooklyn.  You can say that in New York City, there were two 3rd Avenue Els, in Brooklyn and Manhattan.  More to follow when I post the south section of the FIFTH AVENUE EL..

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

The Brooklyn Bridge Once Carried Elevated Trains and Street Cars

This photo, taken about one year ago, faces Brooklyn.  Since 1950, no electric transit has crossed the bridge when streetcar service from Brooklyn was stopped.  Rich in transit history, the Brooklyn Bridge carried Brooklyn Elevated trains on two tracks and streetcar service on two roadway tracks.  After elevated service accross the Brooklyn Bridge stopped around 1940-1944?, streetcars eventially used the PRW of the former elevated railroad to reach the Park Row Loop.  The former Park Row station, which was the terminus of many Brooklyn elevated lines provided a paying transfer to IRT Elevated trains such as the Third Avenue Line at the City Hall terminal, or a transfer to the Lexington Avenue Subway at the Brooklyn Bridge station.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Another View of the Avenue "P" Elevated Station - Winter 2011

This photo was taken in February 2011 from the Manhattan bound platform facing north towards Manhattan after an ice storm.   When the Avenue P station opened in 1919, and other stations along the Culver Line, the stations sported wooden platforms and wooden wind screens that had window panels.  In a modernization effort around the late 1950's to early 1960's, the wooden platforms were replaced by concrete ones and the wooden wind screens were replaced by drab windowless steel panels system wide.  Since that time, the Transit Authority is trying to make the station enviroment more friendly by bringing in art and some windows along the wind screens.

Tramway Null(0)

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Example of a "Modern" (1919) Local Elevated Station

This photo, taken this morning at 7:10 am is at the Avenue "P"  "subway" station at Avenue P and McDonald Avenue on the IND Culver Line (F-Train).  The shot is from the Manhattan bound platform looking south towards the Kings Highway express station.   The Avenue "P" station is a three track station with two local tracks and one express track.  The reconstruction of the 3rd Avenue El around this time (1914-16) added a third track.  Many of the local stations on the 3rd Avenue El had a similar configeration, but the express stops in many of the Manhattan stations were built above the local tracks.  19th Century elevated construction used a lighter, lattice type of steel construction compared to the  1919 elevated station shown here in the picture.  On three track elevated structures, the express track may have express service in the direction of heavy traffic.  For the 3rd Avenue Line, there was express service southbound in the morning and northbound in the evening.  On the IND Culver Line, when express service existed around 1968 to 1974, express service was available using the middle track northbound in the morning and southbound in the evening.  At this location on McDonald Avenue and Avenue "P", some form of rapid transit existed since 1875 and continues to today.  The former railroad tracks that became trolley tracks under the structure are long gone.
Tramway Null(0)

Monday, March 12, 2012

Mystery Incline at 42nd Street Between First and Second Avenues

Notice the 2nd Avenue El to the left of the frame (from 1924 aerial photograph) and the incline at 42nd Street between First and Second avenues..  Current street elevations are shown imposed on the 1924 aerial photograph.  Notice that the street elevations do not change until you appoach Tudor City Place.  Actually, the street elevations are increasing as you go east then drop off fast near the river.  You can clearly see the shadow of the incline.  I looked at aerial phoographs beyond the frame of the picture and I do not know where the tunnel leads to.  Thanks threestationsquare for the info. [ The United Nations complex is off the map and is north and east of the diagram.]  Tramway Null (0)

Third Avenue El - North of 161st Street - 1934-1973

Source:  B. Linder, NY Division ERA Bulletin, Vol. 36, No. 3, Page 2, March, 1993

Narrative to follow in future.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Any Steam Engines Stored in the East 133 Street Yard?


Notice covered walkway from 133 Street Station to NYNYH RR area.  In the far north of the picture, the 133 Street station is located.  Picture is an 1924 aerial view.  See prior track map stating that some of the old steam engines that drove the 3rd Avenue El in steam days are located just right of the covered walkway headed south from the 133 Street Station and were stored for resale.  The NYNH&H track area is to the right and off the picture.

Third Avenue El Track Diagram - Lower Section - 1934-1955

Source: B.Linder, NY Division Bulletin, Vol. 36, No. 3., March 1993, Page 5.  Narrative to follow shortly.

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Unusual Trolley Operations in Brooklyn

In noticed that one person is interested in Manhattan Beach Trolleys.  I was very lucky and I found an interesting item in my archive.  Of course, we are thankful to Bernard Linder for providing this source material.  I am sorry that I cannot provide a scan of the map at this time. 

The material comes from the New York Division Bulletin for December, 1984, Vol. 27, Number 12. and is titled "The Marine Railway Company" is found on pages 2 and 3.  The essential points are:
  1. The companies that ran this railroad were not your typical Brooklyn streetcar companies and were over three time periods:  Manhattan Beach Company, Manhattan Beach Estates and Manhattan Beach Park, Incorporated 1918-1923.
  2. From 1906 to August 7, 1913 a service was provided using trolley cars between Manhattan Beach and Brighton Beach using a private right of way that was formerly used by steam locomotives from 1878.  No track diagram provided.
  3. From August 7, 1913 a new service was started using battery cars form Oriental Boulevard and  Langham Street via Oriental Boulevard, Long Island Ralroad trackage near Corbin Place and parallel to West End Avenue to the Sheepshead Bay BMT subway station.  This Long Island Railroad trackage we discussed regarding the Sheepshead Bay Race Track.  The Manhattan Beach trackage was on the east side of the BMT Brighton Line embankment.  The terminal was a stub terminal at Voorhies Avenue on LIRR trackage, not BMT trackage.
  4. On April 27, 1921, the prior route was discontinued and a new route was established between Oriental Boulevard and Langham Street, Brighton Beach Avenue to Coney Island Avenue.  According to the track diagram that I saw, the Langham Street terminal was a one track stub terminal and the Coney Island Avenue terminal was two tracks that ended at a stub and was not connected to the Coney Island Avenue trolley that curved 90 degrees at that point.
  5. On June 10, 1923, this service was discontinued and service between Manhattan Beach and the Sheepshead Bay station was furnished by Plum Beach Auto Stage Company with buses from April, 1919.
  6. The Marine Railway trackage at its' last stage was probably not connected to any other streetcar line.  I wonder how the battery cars were maintained because the Linder track diagram shows no turnoff to a service area.
Thank you Bernard Linder for the material.  Scan perhaps to follow next week.

Tramway Null(0)

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Area Around 3rd Avenue Elevated Harlem River Branch or Another Racetrack Spur?

3rd Avenue Elevated Line Harlem River Branch

By May 17, 1886, the 3rd Avenue Elevated line, then steam operated, was extended to 129th Street in Manhattan to 133rd Street in the Bronx by crossing the Harlem River.  In November of the same year, the Harlem River Branch from 129th Street  to Willis Avenue in the Bronx opened for service.  This branch ran to a new station near 132nd Street and Willis Avenue and was off the main line and may have been extended for a short distance by the NYNH&H railway to their station on the surface.  It seems that the NYNH&H trains operated to the redesigned 129th Street station in Manhattan.  This service was discontinued by May 11, 1905 according to the New York Division Bulletin article by Bernard Linder.
A few years before on October, 1891, the new Morris Park Race track was open.  This race track was located near Pelham Parkway in the northern Bronx a few miles away from the Willis Avenue Station.  Second Avenue Elevated trains, not shown on my map, may have operated from downtown Manhattan to the Willis Avenue station where passengers transferred to the NYNH&H railroad for special race track trains.  By 1905, race tracks in New York State were put out of business by a change of legislation and this race track, along with the Sheepshead Bay Race Track and the Gravesend Race Track had their business seriously cut.  According to Bernard Linder, even though business fell off in 1905, the IRT elevated trains ran to Willis Avenue until April 15, 1924.  This would mean that this branch was electrified since the last steam train operated to August 16, 1902.
    On the following map, you can see the branch of the 3rd Avenue Elevated branching east to the railroad yard area shown in the 1924 Aerial Photograph overlay.  You can also see the 129th Street Yard and station taking up an entire block between 2nd and 3rd Avenues in Manhattan.  In a very interesting hand written message on the line drawn map, in the insert, it was stated that steam engines were stored in the 132nd Street Yard awaiting sale from 1902 to 1943.  Does the writer refer to the yard at Willis Avenue or the 132nd Street Yard?  From the 1924 aerial photograph, I cannot see the Willis Avenue branchoff from the 3rd Avenue El after the line leaves the bridge and enters the Bronx land area.

More to follow.