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Wednesday, November 27, 2013

8th Street Crosstown 1919-1933

Source:  Linder, Bernard, "8th Street Crosstown" In New York Division Bulletin, Electric Railroaders' Association, Vol. 31, No. 7, July, 1988, pp.4-5.

  The 8th Street Crosstown started out in 1874 as a horse car line connecting the Christopher Street Ferry on the Hudson River with the East 10th Street Ferry on the East River.  The route is shown on the map.  The route did not change much between 1898 and 1936 (abandonment).  Around 1905, a branch went to Brooklyn via the Williamsburg Bridge, on the north side via conduit tracks.  The final destination was Bridge Plaza.    Around 1920, the Brooklyn service was discontinued and cars operated only as far as Clinton and Delancey Street, near the entrance to the bridge.  In 1927, the branch between Christopher Street Ferry and  Clinton and Delancey Streets was stopped.  On March 6, 1936, buses replaced streetcars.  The article did not state when the line was electrified.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Some Grass 6.4.1 Visibility Experiments using the Kolumna Zygmunta at Castle Square Warsaw

Castle Square or Plac Zamkowy is a historic square in Warsaw Poland and has an interesting Column going back many years which has been rebuilt many times.  The historic column is called the Kolumna Zygmunta in Polish and was built in honor of King Sigismund III.  It is 22 meters high and it would be interesting to do some visibility experiments with it using GRASS 6.4.1 in the raster mode.  To do this experiment, I will ask you to envision that no buildings exist in Warsaw except this beautiful monument.  How far can we see this monument in the distance?  It depends on the changes in elevation in altitude of the surroundings.  I was able to bring into GRASS 6.4.1 a raster file based on the elevation of entire Poland.  According to what I have seen, Warsaw is relatively flat.  In other parts of the experiment, we will do a thought experiment:  What would happen if the Kolumna Zygmunta would be as tall as the new World Trade Center in New York at 1776 feet?  How far would a resident of Warsaw or Poland see it?   In this experiment, I do not take into effect the curvature of the earth and I used various ranges, between 20,000 meters and 90,000 meters.  Well lets get to it.  Please ignore the scale bar, it is incorrect and I cannot remove it.

In this experiment, the using the raster visibility option, the height of the column was raised to 541 meters, which is the height of the World Trade Center.  Not taking into consideration the curvature of the earth, the column would be observable throughout Poland except in the white areas.  I do not know the reason for this.  In the south, it would be visible at selected high elevations.  The range is set to 90,000 meters.
In this map above, I brought in a shape file (vector) of important roads in Warsaw.  The red square is the location of the column.  The yellow coloring shows where in Warsaw a 1776 foot Kolumna Zygmunta would be visible.  It would be visible of course, throughout Warsaw, but I cannot give a reason for the few white gaps in the map.  These white gaps do not correspond to high elevations.
In the map above, I set the Kolumna Zymunta height to 22 meters, its actual height.  If no buildings were blocking the view, or if you were looking down a wide boulevard, there would be gaps in Warsaw were the monument would not be visible.  The red areas are higher elevations outside of Central Warsaw.  Range is 30,000 meters.
In the map below, I used the option in GRASS to correct for the curvature of the earth for the visibility scenario at the Kolumna Zygmunta with the incredible height of 1776 feet.
 The central Warsaw area is indicated by the rectangle.
In the map below, I used an option to create a map based on  elevations that are based on a density function:
The Central area of Warsaw is indicated in red.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

A Trolleybus and a Gas Tank in the Same Picture?

I got the picture below from a European trolleybus site called "TROLLEYMOTION".  Trolley motion offers the latest trolleybus news from around the world and it also promotes the benefits of electric trolleybus transportation.  The picture below comes from a recent posting about the German city of Osnabruck.  I cannot read German so I am lost but I believe Osnabruck had trolleybus transit years ago, as did many cities in Germany.  Today, there are just a few cities that have it in Germany.  In my humble opinion, although I am not a trolleybus expert,  I believe the trolleybus is endangered by battery buses and high electric storage  buses that do not need overhead wires.  The success of what is called in America "BRT" or Bus Rapid Transit, or what is called in New York City "SBS", or Select Bus Service, is also a danger to streetcars and light rail.  My rational is, "if you do need wires or tracks, you do not need light rail, streetcars or trolleybuses".  If battery buses and BRT using non-wired buses is successful, transit organizations will not be willing to invest in tracks and overhead, unfortunately.
  Now back to the picture below.  The picture is undated, but it is coded "1966", so it must be a picture of Osnabruck in 1966.  Is that a gas tank in the background?  I have not seen many rigid style gas tank pictures from Europe.  Were they commonplace?  The flexible type of gas tank, that rose and fell according to the amount of gas stored and was guided by sort of a circular lattice framework was quite common in Europe and America around World War I.

Folks, I got a translation of the article.  It so happens that the municipality of Osnabruck  is considering to establish a new trolleybus system.  Part of this new operation will be off wire with battery operation.  See the clip below including information about the gas tank.  It is very high.

On the Old Post Road before 1972 dismantled some 75 m high disk gas tank, the trolleybuses 220 and 226 meet in August 1966 In 1960, trolleybuses had developed at that time due to the extensive road development work to be abandoned again. Recording: Thomas Johansson.

  The above comes from the news section of Trolleymotion.  The picture is from August 1966 showing two 1960 trolleybuses.  The tank is 75 meters high.  Was the trolleybus line or the gas tank dismantled in 1972?


Friday, November 8, 2013

Raymond Loewy Also Designed This

Yesterday, in the United States, Google honored Raymond Loewy who was a designer.  Loewy also was a co-designer of the R-40 (Slant) subway car in New York.  In this undated picture, probably in 1968, a brand new F train consisting of R-40 Slant cars appear to be on the Culver Line probably at Bay Parkway - 22nd Avenue Station.  The car appears before it was marked up and modified.  The R-40 had its' problems however.  I was told that the seats were uncomfortable and the slant wasted passenger space.  The R-40 fleet was taken out of service in the last few years.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

McDonald Car at Cortelyou Road around 1952

Source:  Joe Testagrose Collection at
In this interesting photo below, a Brooklyn PCC car on the Church Avenue Line is just about to enter under the unfinished ramp at McDonald Avenue and Cortelyou Road.  This PCC car will travel under the el for a short distance and meet up with South Brooklyn Railway tracks and then go through a reversing loop.   About a few hundred feet from this car the car will meet the Cortelyou Road Trolleybus line as well.  In you look above the trolley, you will see that the "catwalk railing" is not finished.  Since this is an undated photo, I would judge its' date as sometime between 1951 and 1954.  In 1951, after many important streetcar lines were bustituted, excess PCC cars were sent to the Church and McDonald Avenue line  In October, 1954, the ramp was placed into operation in October with IND "D" trains making the journey to Coney Island for the first time over prior BMT Culver Line trackage.  In my previous post, I mentioned the trolley span support wires in the brick wall of the incline.  You can see at least four in this picture.  Some of these supports still exist today in the brick wall with a small piece of trolley support span wire and an insulator attached.  Notice the green chain link fence near the front of the PCC car.  As a child, I remember it and there was a door to enter under the incline.  I was told that the old Gravesend Avenue trolley tracks are still under there, for this was the right of way before the tracks were diverted to the sides of the incline.

Monday, November 4, 2013

Nothing But the Facts, Mame: The Official Notes of the End of the Church Avenue Line

Hi Folks:

   I found on the internet this PDF document that was written by the New York City Transit System in October, 1956 regarding the last moments of my favorite streetcar lines (really the only ones I knew that were left), namely the Church Avenue and McDonald Avenue.  It makes interesting reading.   This memo appears to be the official general order of how the "Church Avenue Line" will officially expire, but it did not mention who and when the "plug will be pulled", that is, when the power would be cut.  On the Church Avenue and McDonald Avenue Line, there is either shared tracks or a crossing with the South Brooklyn Railroad.  Since the South Brooklyn Railroad would operate under power for a few more years, all power could not be cut.  Instead, at least at 37th Street and 13th Avenue, where the Church Avenue Trolley crossed the South Brooklyn Railroad under the Culver Line, the Church Avenue trolley power wires were cut at that location but they were then attached to the girders of the Culver Line.  In this way, the wires did not have to be removed and the South Brooklyn Railroad continued under electric power until 1961.  Incidentally, if my memory serves correct, the wires and poles on Church Avenue, 13th Avenue and 39th Street were not removed for a very long time, perhaps until 1960 or 1961.  On 39th Street, from Ninth Avenue to Fifth Avenue, a set of poles and wires, on the northern side of the street was not removed until the 1980's because this set was used to power the Culver Shuttle. When the Culver Shuttle el structure was removed in the 1980's, this set was also removed.

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