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Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Sixth Avenue "L" - North and South Sections 1934-1938

Source:  B. Linder, New York Division Bulletin, Electric Railroaders' Association, Vol. 38, No. 12, December, 1993.

The maps below show a more modern layout to the trackways.  Some source data is also included. It is interesting to note that the Sixth Avenue streetcar followed a similar route.  It is also interesting that the el curved to the west at 53rd Street and so does the replacement IND subway today with a station at 53rd Street and 7th Avenue.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Sixth Avenue El Layout in Manhattan: 1893-1903

Source:  B. Linder, " Sixth Avenue "L" - History and Track Plans", In New York Division Bulletin, Electric Railway Association, Vol. 36, No. 12, December, 1993, p. 2.  Order Item No. M-108. Map Compiled by staff.

Please see this early map showing the layout of the Sixth Avenue El before an upgrade years later.  Some department  stores and other buildings had passageways directly to the el at various locations.
The Sixth Avenue El was the first of the Manhattan Els to go; the end came on December 5, 1938.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Staten Island Oddities

  Please find below a Staten Island Rapid Transit Map as of 1949 with the source sited.  Two branches were closed on March 31, 1953, namely the North Shore and South Beach Branches.  Parts of the North Shore branch are intact and there are proposals to resume some sort of service.  The South Beach branch is completely gone, with it's right of way filed in with new developments in many places.  Between South Beach and the Cedar Avenue former stations remains the Robin Road Trestle at St. Johns Avenue.  Please see pictures below.  The Robin Road Trestle is one of the last remaining artifacts of the South Beach Branch.  Why did it remain?  The New York City Transit Authority and The New York City Department of Transportation had a dispute regarding its removal and it has not been resolved.  Notice how close the trestle on the north side is to the new housing units.

The trestle can be seen almost touching the houses.

Please see a 1924 Aerial shot of the Robin Road Trestle.  The trestle is in the center of the shot.  You can see clearly the railroad right of way.

A more recent (2008) shot of the Robin Road Trestle.  Notice that the right of way north and south of the trestle has been filled in with houses.  North of the picture is Railway Avenue.
Below, a street level view of the area.


  Since we are on the subject of Staten Island,  Staten Island was one of the earliest sites of experimentation wtih trolleybuses in New York City in the 1920's.  The dates for Staten Island trolleybuses is from October 8, 1921 to October 16, 1927.  More information can be obtained at the links above.  Though I cannot quote the source at this time, but in one edition of the Electric Railway Association Bulletin, it was decided to buy some trolleybuses for a few routes because the cost of running a trolleybus, was less at that time than running a gasoline bus.  Notice the interesting current collector at the top.  These trolleybuses were operated by the New York City Department of Plants and Structures.  Notice that the overhead hardware was different than what became standard later on.

Monday, July 22, 2013

Calgary, Alberta Trolley Coach Overhead Map, as of April, 1974

Source: H.R. Porter, editor, Trolley Coach News, Vol. 7, Number 3, Summer 1975,  Map drawn by Wayne Hom on April 1974 and revised on 5/23/74.

Calgary had an interesting trolleybus operation that was established after World War II and was abandoned in 1975.  Calgary today has a modern light rail system.  The trolleybus system started on June 1, 1947.  Some coaches and other equipment may have gone to Edmonton and Vancouver after closure. I hope the maps are useful to the historians out there.

Friday, July 19, 2013

Some Down Under Trolleybus Information

  The scan below comes from "Trolley Coach News", Number 48, Volume 12, Number 1 Winter 1980 edition.  The main focus of the article, that continues on the next page (not scanned) is  a discussion about the future of trolleybus service in Australia as of the winter of 1980.  The cities of Melbourne, Newcastle and Sydney was discussed.  Page 39 contains interesting information that our readers may be interested in. A list of prior trolleybus systems are listed from 1929 to 8/29/59.  There is also a picture of the then new "Z" class streetcar from Melbourne's Transit Authority.  I hope the scan of the list comes out clear.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Looking North from Ditmas Avenue Brooklyn 2009

This shot was taken by Leonard Wilson on 4/15/2009 and it shows a R-160B F Train emerging from the tunnel south of the Church Avenue Station.  I took this photo off the website because in this one picture, many of the topics that this blog discusses is shown.  You can see the tunnel into which the F train goes into south of Church Avenue.  This tunnel was built for the Independent Subway.  This portals' construction date is not clear. It may have been built after the Church Avenue station opened in 1933 or later, perhaps before World War II.  The actual incline did not have service until October, 1954 when the IND subway "captured" the BMT Culver Line.  For many years, the incline, which has space for four tracks had only one track, the northbound local track, was actually connected to the BMT Culver Elevated.  I read someplace that in the middle of the incline, there was a large tree growing probably through the war years.   In the picture, you will also see the large radio tower at Bishop Ford High School which was the location of the 9th Avenue trolley depot that was in service until 1956.  This trolley barn had two levels.  Also, if you look at the right side of the incline, you can see serveral vertical iron beams that were used to support the McDonald Avenue trolley wires.  Believe it or not, some of the insulators and a few inches of trolley support span wire are still in the horizontal position!  These are probably the very last of the few artifacts of the great trolley operation in Brooklyn.  The only other artifacts are several trolley line support poles scattered throughtout Brooklyn and an occasional peak of trolley track through asphalt for the few tracks that have not been pulled yet.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Wellington New Zealand Overhead/Route Map 1980

Source:  "Wellington" , Harry R. Porter, Editor, "Trolley Coach News", Vol. 12, Number 1, No. 48, Winter, 1980.pp. 4-18.  The two trolleybus overhead maps were designed by Wayne Hom in June 1971, and revised on 10/1980.  The "Wellington Suburban Electric Railway System" map is initialed CJMS and is dated 11/65.

 The Wellington system may still be active today.  Please see these interesting maps; they were revised 34 years ago and may be of interest to some of our readers.  Some interesting tunnel sections are shown with a shared third wire.  The last map is a detail of the business section of the city.

Monday, July 15, 2013

Dunedin, New Zealand Trolley Coach Overhead, April, 1978

Source:  Porter, Harry R. In "Trolley Coach News", "Dunedin", No. 48, Vol. 12, Number 1, Winter, 1980.  pp. 23-25.
The map above was titled "Dunedin, N.Z.  Trolley Coach Overhead.  Compiled and drawn by Wayne Hom in April, 1978.
  Several cities in New Zealand had trolley bus service.  The material comes from "Trolley Coach News" which is no longer in existence, probably at least from 1989.  According to the short article about Dunedin, trolleybus service did not come until 12/23/50 and the last line to be converted (either tram or motor bus) was the "Half Way Bush" line on 9/28/58.  Due to a change of policy, abandonment became official in 1962.    The system was still in existence in April, 1978, where four routes that are remaining are shown.  According to the text in the right picture above, the scene looks like North America.  An interesting characteristic of the overhead in Dunedin, according to the article, is that many signs were attached to the overhead, such as "Cut Off" and "Reduce Speed" and so on.  I remember a sign near Church and McDonald Avenues in Brooklyn that said "SECTION INSULATOR   XXX FEET", where the XXX was some number which I do not remember, perhaps 200 Feet.

Friday, July 12, 2013

17th & 18th Street Crosstown (1907) - Manhattan

Source:  Linder, B. in New York Division Bulletin, Electric Railroaders' Association, Vol. 31, Number 8, August, 1988. p. 6.

This line started in either late 1874 or early 1874 and ended on February 14, 1919.  It was never converted to electricity and was always are horse car line.  Originally until 1904, it was really a crosstown line and went to the west side to the Christopher Street Ferry.  It was cut back as shown on the map.  Due to my posting mistake, the bottom of the map was truncated, and the real end is at 8th Street and University Place.  There was no track connection to the 8th Street Line and there was a double crossover north of 8th Street.  In the late 19th and early 20th Centuries, 18th Street seems to have been a busy street.  There was originally an 18th Street station on the IRT subway at 18th Street and 4th Avenue (Park Avenue South).  This station was closed in 1948?  On the west side, there is currently an 18th Street station at 7th Avenue on the 7th Avenue subway.  It is a local stop.  18th Street is a typical one way narrow crosstown street.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

The 1964 New York World's Fair and Rapid Transit

 We are almost at the Fiftieth anniversary of the 1964 New York World's Fair and I would like to share some of my thoughts with you regarding the subject.  I was a young kid at that time and I was able to visit the World's Fair a few times.  I saw the major exhibits such as  GM, Ford, DuPont, General Electric and IBM.  Smaller exhibits such as the Long Island Railroad and Port Authority I passed through.  Even at that time I was interested in rapid transit and not being informed, I thought the last streetcars were running only in San Francisco.  The fair was great and very educational, but in retrospect, the subject that most of the readers of this blog are interested in, namely streetcars, subways and trolleybuses were not shown to exist.  The major car builders showed models of what the future city would look like, mass transit running in the middle of multi lane highways.  These were not shown to make local stops but appear to be inter city commuter trains.

 Here us a video clip that I got from subchat on 9/14/2013 at 9:51 pm to show what the fair was like.

Interesting comment about the view of the future at the World's Fair.

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Please see some scans from the official guide:

Here is the first two pages of the guide.  With our "friend" Robert Moses who built (was President ) of  the fair.  I believe Robert Moses needs no introduction.

Here is General Motors view of the future. Some limited train transport would play a part in the future.  The guide mentions that the exhibit showed high speed "bus trains".  Does this become the Bus Rapid Transit of Today?

 At the base of the Port Authority Exhibit shown above, they had a scale model of the PATH subway system.  From what I remember, it may have been the size of a ping pong table.  That is it for excitement! How would this exhibit compare to the wonderful and exciting Ford and GM exhibits that people where lined up for hours?

The Long Island Rail Road had a very small free exhibit.  At that time, I was not interested in the LIRR.  The exhibit was boring and I left after five minutes.  It featured duck farming on Long Island; a very important rapid transit topic.

In the early 1970's, rapid transit declined rapidly in New York City.  All the buses and subways were marked up, subway mileage decreased with the closing of the 3rd Avenue El, Bowling Green Shuttle, Culver Shuttle, the Myrtle Avenue Line in 1969 and so on.  It is my thesis that the lack of attention in society as shown by the New York Worlds Fair in 1964 towards rapid transit topics was related to the decline of rapid transit and street electric transportation all across America during the early 1970's.  The planners of the World Fair, if still alive today and transportation planners would be surprised if they could  have foreseen the resurgence of streetcars and trolleybuses worldwide ( not in New York City ) fifty years later.

  I almost forgot, but there was a AMF Monorail that circled the Lake Area.  It was 40 feet up and consisted of two car trains.  Somehow I missed to ride it.  I was busy looking at the New York City Transit Authority Flushing yard instead, that had recently painted Lo-V subway cars on display through a chain linked fence.  The monorail charged 80 cents for adults and ran from 9 am to 2 am and this was the view of future modern rapid transit at that time, with trains running in the medians of highways.

According to the guide,"... three trains travel in one direction while four in the other direction, on parallel tracks." p. 218.

A quote from "Elkeeper" in Subchat: One of the Four Horseman of the Subway Apocalypse: Depression, World War II, Post- war hijacking of 2nd Ave subway funds, and- Robert Moses- the Devil, Himself!

Monday, July 8, 2013

Was there really a Tramway Null in Warsaw in the 1920s?

Source:   A film clip from the movie called " Przedwojenna Warszawa 1936 " which translated to "Pre War Warsaw ".  I took a clip of the movie and gave Michael Troy to convert the "15" Route Number to "0" (Null) for me.  It is very rare that a tramway system would start off it routes with a zero, but my father said that he was told in Warsaw in 1920 that in order to get to the "American Embassy" he needed to take "Tramway Null".  What do you think?

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Sixth Avenue Streetcar (Manhattan) 1919-1933 Track Map

Source:  Linder, B.  "Sixth Avenue 1919-1933", In New York Division Bulletin, Electric Railroaders' Association, Vol. 30, Number 11, November, 1987.  pp.4-5.

An explanation regarding this interesting map will be given in the future. Approx. Dates:  Horsecar 1852, Conversion to Electricity, in stages, 1898.  Replaced by buses, March 12, 1936.

  Sixth Avenue in Manhattan is an interesting street regarding urban transit.  It was one of the few streets in the city, such as Fulton Street in Brooklyn and parts of Flatbush Avenue in Brooklyn that had the three types of electric urban transportation, namely electric streetcar service, elevated and then later subway service. The streetcar service on Sixth Avenue was conduit driven, like most Manhattan streetcars.  The Sixth Avenue Subway was built as the Independent Subway while el service was still in operation.  I believe Sixth Avenue El service stopped in the late 30's while the Sixth Avenue Subway openned in the early 1940's.  Notice on the map below that Sixth Avenue trolley service ends at 3rd Street and curves to the left to West Broadway.  Sixth Avenue or "Avenue of the Americas" was extended south by getting rid of old buildings and making a new street as the IND subway was being built.  I think the Sixth Avenue El took the same path as the Sixth Avenue streetcar.  Currently, Avenue of the Americas ends to the south near White Street. Also note, that the path of the Sixth Avenue streetcar downtown on Fulton Street between West Broadway and Church Street is right at the former "World Trade Center" and the area is now being redeveloped with new skyscrappers.  Sixth Avenue was so much different than Fifth Avenue, it's neighbor one block to the east.  The Sixth Avenue El had entrances to 19th Century Department Stores at selected stations while Fifth Avenue was so anti rapid transit, no streetcar line ever ran on the street.  In fact, when it came to build IND or BMT subway entrances on Fifth Avenue, it was decided to place the entrances and laterns out of sight of the Fifth Avenue building line because they did not want to mar the beauty of Fifth Avenue with having the indignity of having a subway entrance in view!  But the Fifth Avenue retail establishments enjoyed the customers arriving by subway for sales that were generated. 

Monday, July 1, 2013

14th Street Crosstown (Manhattan) Streetcar 1919-1933

Source:  Linder, B. "14th Street Crosstown", In New York Division Bulletin, Electric Railroader's Association, Vol. 31, Number 8, August, 1988, pp. 2-3.

The 14th Street Crosstown streetcar in Manhattan started as a horse car in 1863 and was electrified in 1903 and was extended to Bridge Plaza in Brookyn via the Williamsburg Bridge in 1905 via the north trackway.  The line was replaced by buses on April 20, 1936.  During its' life, various routings were followed.