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Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Photo Shot from the Brooklyn Bridge on July 27, 2012

Another great shot by docjayva of the Brooklyn Bridge on Friday, July 27, 2012..  Fifty two years earlier, trolley bus service on the Flushing Avenue Line ended at High Street on July 27, 1960.  The line's end was very close to the entrance to the Brooklyn Bridge from the Brooklyn side and probably in streetcar days, the Flushing Avenue trolley ran on the bridge to Park Row.

Friday, July 27, 2012

Downtown Brooklyn Streetcar Map 9-22-44 to 3-4-51

Source:  B. Linder, New York Division Bulletin, Vol. 21, No. 8, August, 1978, P.10.

Today is the 52nd Anniversary of the end of Trolley Bus Service in Brooklyn on July 27, 1960.

The attached map shows downtown  Brooklyn streetcar trackage at the end.  It does not show the trolley bus service wire that co-existed on some of the streets, such as Livingston Street during part of the period (1948-59).    When the last trolley car ran through the area on March 4, 1951 and the last trolley bus ran on Flushing Avenue to High Street on July 27, 1960, the end of the era of dependable electric street transportation came to end in New York City.  The way things that are going today in New York City, it is unlikely that any form of wired electric street transportation would ever return to the streets in our lifetime. 

Monday, July 23, 2012

Various Elevation Indicators near the Culver Viaduct in Brooklyn

   In the above map, I looked at elevation values near the Culver Viaduct in Brooklyn which is the concrete elevated structure that runs from south of Fourth Avenue and 9th Street to north of Carroll Street and Smith Street.  I used ARCGIS 10.1.  I brought in a subway stop file from several years ago and through a spatial join, I was able to assign the nearest elevation available near a subway station.  The problem with the elevation file is that most of the points given are at street level but others are the heights of structures, such as the viaduct itself, the expressway that goes over the canal and so on.  As far as coding is concerned, both street elevations and structure elevations are coded the same so I can not tell them apart.  Since I do not know how the height of a structure is defined, I would believe that the Transit Authority's official height of the Smith and  9 th Street station will not match mine.  Nevertheless, it would be interesting to look at the map anyway.  In the map, the white numbers are heights above sea level and comes from a contour height file.  The color dots are either street elevations or the elevations of a structure, however they are defined.  Here are my observations:
  1. The 15th Street - Prospect Park station on the F and G lines is underground but the height assigned is 200 feet.  The nearest heights around the station are in the 132 to 249 feet range. but the contours show values around 164 feet.  My reading may be a mistake.
  2. The 7th Avenue Station which is underground is listed as 100 feet.
  3. The 4th Avenue Station on the F and G routes is above ground the the elevation is listed as 60 feet.  Heights around the station as street level is around  40 feet with a sharp downward slope towards the water.  The structure is is rising at this point as one goes westward.
  4. The Smith and 9 th Street station is listed at 90 feet which is the height of the structure.  At the surface, which is at the canal, the heights are a few feet.
  5. The viaduct takes a sharp turn here and decends downward towards the Carroll Street station. The Carroll Street station is underground and is listed as 50 feet.  These are the values at street level in the area.
It is interesting to note that the 7th Avenue station which is underground is 40 feet higher than the open air Fourth Avenue Station  and 10 feet higher at street level than the very high Smith and 9th Street Station.  Now you know why Park Slope is called Park Slope.

This material is not official and was an experiment.  To be verified.  Tramway Null(0)

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Newark City Subway Video from 1982

Newark City Subway in 1982 video.

     I came across this video from the "subchat " website.  While this video is not of the highest visual quality, it has great music and it shows the Newark City Subway operating with  second hand PCC cars.  I made my visit to the Newark City Subway a few years earlier. After streetcars stopped running in Brooklyn in 1956 and across the Queensborough bridge in 1957, and trolleybuses in Brooklyn on July 27, 1960, I thought no other place on earth has streetcars accept San Francisco and some places in Europe.  I was a very small kid then and when I went to my local Brooklyn Public Library, only one or two books covered rapid transit.  As I got older, I started to visit research libraries and then I discovered how wrong I was.  I could not believe in 1969 that a Newark City Subway existed and that it was a PATH train away in New Jersey!  And it was operated with PCC cars similar to ones that used to run on Church Avenue.  Even people that were interested in rapid transit in New York City did not know about the Newark City Subway.  As an aside, watching TV as a young child in the 1950's and 1960's, I never came across (this is not a scientific sample)  a trolley story or picture, except for the famous cable cars of San Francisco.  "Dragnet" from the the 1950's did show, during the opening scene, Los Angeles City Hall framed through trolley wires.  It seems that during the 1950's and 1960's, rapid transit and trolleys did not exist in popular culture and perhaps they were considered soon to be extinct animals, at least on New York based TV.  So to my pleasant surprise, trolleys were a subway ride away and I visited the Newark City Subway.  The video below captures the feel of those years when I made my first visit.  Since that time, the Newark City Subway has been extended at the Franklin Avenue end and a short subway section was reopened and refurbished to serve on a new outside light rail section to the Broad Street Railroad Station.  New cars are used on the line, but I have been told, that they are not as exciting to ride as the old non air conditioned PCC cars.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Downtown Brooklyn Streetcar Map: 10/12/41 to 3/5/44

Source: B. Linder, New York Division Bulletin, Vol. 21, No. 8, August, 1978, p.8.

An explanation regarding this map to follow in the future.  Tramway Null(0)

Monday, July 16, 2012

Another View from the Manhattan Bridge - July 2012

This beautiful shot was taken last week by docjayva from the Manhattan Bridge looking south to lower Manhattan showing the World Trade Center area.  Since we are on the subject of the Manhattan Bridge and some of my posts deals with the Culver Line, either as a subway line or as the Culver-Fifth Avenue Elevated line, I would like to tell you about an unusual Culver Line operation in the subway.  I will verify this in the future, but in the 1950's before the line was truncated at Ditmas Avenue and even afterwards, there was an unusual loop operation in the morning rush hour.  Trains would depart Ditmas Avenue and go north to 36th Street and 4th Avenue where they would run express to Pacific Street.  I am not sure if the Culver trains would stop at Dekalb Avenue but would go over the Manhattan Bridge and loop southward to the Nassau Street loop.  This connection does not exist today since the Chrystie Street Loop service began in 1967.  The Culver trains would now go southbound through the Nassau Street Loop, into the Montague Street tunnel and run local southbound on Fourth Avenue.  It would stop at 36th Street and finally end up at Ditmas Avenue were it started from!    The BMT Standard subway cars had two types of roll signs, large and small.  The description of the route was something like ".. Via Bridge to Manhattan and Southbound via Nassau  Street Loop..."  I am not sure of the exact wording but it was clearly not visible on the small size BMT Standard destination curtains.   This service ended in 1959 when the Culver Line really became a true shuttle between Ditmas Avenue and  Ninth Avenue. (To be verfiied and modified in the future.)
Readings on a BMT Standard roll sign is found below.  Taken from web.  Culver related items in red.

Ditmas Ave 36th St.-4th Av Forest Hills-Queens
Via Tunnel thru
Via Bridge to Bklyn
Via Bridge thru
Via Tunnel to Bklyn
6th Av.Manh't'n
8th Av.Manh't'n
Myrtle Av.
Eastern P'kwy
Atlantic Av.
Chambers St.
Canal St.
Crescent St.
111th St.
Metropolitan Av.
Broad St.
Whitehall St.
Queens Plaza
95th St.-Ft.H'ton
Prospect Park
Franklin Av.
Nassau St.
Brighton Beach
57th St. Manh't'n
Kings Highway
Times Square
Coney Island
Bay Parkway
62nd St. Bklyn
City Hall
Ninth Av.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Downtown Brooklyn Trolley Map 1939-10/12/41

Source:  B.Linder, New York Division Bulletin, Vol. 21, No. 8,  August, 1978, pp.5-7.

A quick look at the attached map reveals that the track network was getting smaller and less complicated.  According to B. Linder, this was the result of, in the late 1930's to 1941 to:
  1. Arranging that all cars on one line should go only to one terminal.
  2. By this time, one five lines crossed the Brooklyn Bridge; in 1930, ten lines crossed the Brooklyn Bridge.
  3. By June 16, 1941, the removal of the Fulton Street Elevated line resulted in many reroutes.
  4. These four lines were motorized:  Fulton Street (Aug. 10, 1941), Gates Avenue (Oct. 5, 1941), Putnam Avenue (September 29, 1941), Third Avenue (March 1, 1942.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Downtown Brooklyn Trolley Map - Track Changes made in 1930

Source:  B. Linder, New York Division Bulletin, Vol. 21, No. 8,  August 1978, p. 4.
  The map shown above shows Brooklyn-Manhattan Transit started to make track changes in 1930 to reflect various changes including the construction of the IND subway in the area and the opening of various new subway routes in the prior twenty years, such as the Montague Street tunnel, BMT service over the Manhattan Bridge and the extention of the IRT subway to Flatbush and Nostrand Avenues and to New Lots Avenue.  All these extentions, and the opening of the IND subway in Brooklyn would eat away at passenger traffic on both streetcars and elevated lines crossing the Brooklyn Bridge.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

New York City Area Elevations with 2008 Subway Line and Station Layer

This map was produced using GRASS 6.4.1 (Geographic Resource Analysis Support System)
Elevations are in feet and the subway layer is from 2008.  Only New York City run rapid transit is shown.  Some of the New York City rapid transit facilities such as yards are situated in locations that may be damaged by sea surges and and are located in the flood plain.

Downtown Brooklyn Trolley Map - 1912-1920

Source:  B. Linder, New York Division Bulletin, Vol. 21, No. 8, August 1978, page 2.

   Since last week I posted a fine video by Roger Arcara showing Brooklyn Elevated Lines, which in that video, the area just south of the Brooklyn Bridge, which is known as Downtown Brooklyn, was shown in detail with some passing shots of streetcars on the surface and other streetcars entering the elevated structure near Sands Steet, I wanted to show that the streetcar layout in that area was also complex.  In the first map, which covers 1912-1920, shows when the streetcar layout was as its' peak.  This is before the IND subway reached downtown Brooklyn providing a one seat one fare ride to Manhattan, Queens and the Bronx.  As will be seen in future posts, the streetcar layout will get less complex as new subway routes open up, operation is simplified, and as routes are converted to bus and trolleybus.  The last streetcar will pass through the area in 1951.  More to follow.  Thank you B. Linder

Friday, July 6, 2012

76 Street Station Mystery - Location of Subway Air Vents

A reader was interested in the location of subway air vents at Pikin Avenue and Eldert Lane which is about four blocks west of our mystery 76th Street station.  I looked at an recent aerial picture at the area and from my visual location (I did not go in person and the image does not show the south side of the street), I could not find any air vents between Eldert Lane and the 76th and 77th Street areas on Pitkin Avenue.  In the image above, I red circled what I believe is the furthest east air vents for the existing subway.  The fact that the 76th Street station area does not have air vents does not necessarily mean that the station does not exist.    I am not an engineer but it would be interesting to find out the effects of a non ventilated cut and cover subway section on iron and other materials after over sixty years.

Long Gone Brooklyn Elevated Lines by Roger Arcara


   The attached youtube video was narrated by the late transit historian, Roger Arcara.  It is a great narrative for those of us born after 1950, because we get to see so many elevated lines that have been gone for over sixty years or more.  You will get to see the els that died or were truncated in the 1940's, namely the Fifth Avenue - Culver El, the 5th Avenue - 3rd Avenue Bay Ridge Branch, the Fulton Street El, the western end of the Myrtle Avenue El.  The Lexington Avenue El that died in 1950 is also shown and parts of the City Line Branch as well.  The fabulous structure just south of the Brooklyn Bridge is also shown, near Sand Street where you will see various Brooklyn trolleys entering the elevated structure.  Notice the lattice trolley wire support frames, they are most interesting.  You will get to see a Fifth Avenue - Culver Elevated train pass through the 38th Street Yard, and you will see for a nanosecond that the trackless westerly ramps were not used, instead the present day yard leads were utilized.  A young person walking near the Brooklyn Bridge today near Cadman Plaza in Brooklyn will never have imagined that such complicated rapid transit structures were in place, both for rapid transit and trolley.  With the opening and the extention of the IND subway in Brooklyn in the 1930's through the 1950's, the number of passengers gradually fell on both trans East River elevated and trolley cars as a one seat, one fare ride was provided for passengers coming in from eastern Brooklyn and Queens to Manhattan.  For this reason, and others, all these great structures and trains and trolleys were discarded.  Today in Brooklyn, there are very little artifacts of our great elevated and trolley heritage except for some vastly spaced  trolley line poles and some trolley track shadows under the asphalt on some streets.  Thank you for making this video available for us to enjoy!  Tramway Null(0)

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Bronx and Westchester Trolley Video

Source:  Roger Arcara's Transportapes:  (T-2) Bronx and Westchester 1930's and 1940's

In this great narrated video, Roger Arcara takes you to different parts of the Bronx in the 1930's and 1940's including some shots in Westchester and upper Manhattan.  The Willis Avenue Line is shown going over the 3rd Avenue Bridge and the plow pit is mentioned.  There is much action showing streetcars traveling under various elevated structures, including the Third Avenue El.    There is also material showing Westchester streetcars entering under the elevated structure at White Plains Road and East 241 Street in the upper Bronx.  The Bronx sported some short trolley underpasses under the Grand Concourse and this is shown also.  Every part of the Bronx seems to be covered.  What a loss that this great system was destroyed.  I got this video off Youtube and I am glad that it is available.  Various parts of the Willis Avenue Line (posted before) is now shown in motion.
Tramway Null(0)

Monday, July 2, 2012

1924 Aerial Map shows where 5th Avenue El crossed the Fulton Street El

Location of crossing was at Hudson Avenue and Fulton Street.
This fine undated photo comes from the collection of George Conrad and can be accessed at and shows the Fulton Street - Flatbush Avenue intersection with the 5th Avenue El turning north to Hudson Avenue.

This undated photo is also from the same George Conrad Collection from the above noted website. Notice the I.R.T.  Nevins Street Subway entrance towards the left hand of the picture.  I believe this is a southbound train just leaving Hudson Avenue and turning east onto Flatbush Avenue.