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Tuesday, December 31, 2013

8th Avenue Subway Track Plans - South Section 1932- 2006

About one week ago, I posted a clip from subchat showing a front window view of the new Flushing Line # 7 extension to 34th Street.  At 42nd Street and 8th Avenue, the line crosses at right angles the lower level of the 42nd Street - 8 th Avenue subway station.  This lower level station is unusual in that it consists of one track and one side platform under a four track busy station.  Please find below a map of the Eight Avenue Line from 59th Street to West 4th Street between 1932 and 2006 and a map of the same line from West 4th Street to High Street Brooklyn between the same dates. Both maps were based on data from B. Linder and the track drawing is by J. Elitz.

  Source:  Linder, B. & Erlitz, J, "Eight Avenue Subway Track Plans" in New York Division, Electric Railroaders' Association, The Bulletin, Vol. 50, No. 1, January, 2007, pp.2-3.

Notice the detail of the 42nd Street station on Page 2.  The platforms on the upper level are staggered with the southbound platform is more south than the northbound platform.  Notice that the lower level track was taken out of service on 10/19/1999 with switches removed in 2002 or 2003.  This means that the station was abandoned for a long time.  The movie that was shot in the lower level was called "Ghost" and was made in 1980.  The shot below is that of Vincent Schiavelli who I believe passed away.  He was not only an actor but he had, I believe a cooking show on Public TV.
Even though the lower station may have been "cut off" by the new IRT Flushing Line extension, I believe that there may have been enough room on the platform to display older model subway cars or even a trolley car.  I am not sure that a streetcar would have enough space down there.  Perhaps the lead tracks were in miserable condition and they had to be isolated and cut off.


Wednesday, December 25, 2013

I did not know that the Independent Subway Goes to Houston, Texas (2nd Avenue)

During this holiday season, the New York City Transit Authority runs special trains consisting of old equipment.  One such fleet consists of Independent Subway R1-9 cars, classics which opened up the new Independent Subway in the early 1930's.  At many transit websites, these cars are displayed, particularly Subchat.  I believe a series of photographs were either posted and photographed by "Mysterious Friday" and I copied them below.  In the 1950's and 1960's, when the "D" train either went to Church Avenue or Coney Island, the side route signs stated "Houston St. - 6th Avenue Express".  It is true that the "D" train and presently the "F" train curve east to Brooklyn after the West 4th Street - Washington Square station along Houston Street making stops at Broadway-Lafayette Street and 2nd Avenue.  Houston, is that not a city in Texas?  As a child, I felt something was wrong but I could not express it.  Later on, I learned that this Houston Street was pronounced "How- Ston" after a Georgia official that married into a wealthy New York family who owned land near present day Houston Street.  In short, this  Mr. Houston, whose spelling of his name was changed, is not the same man as Sam Houston of Texas.  So the Independent Subway does not go the 2nd Avenue Houston after all.

Profile of William Houstoun.
Houston Street viewed from Orchard Street.

Destination box from a R1-9 subway car in holiday service.  Queens- Forest Hills to Houston Texas, 2nd Avenue; how many stops an how long it takes?  Below, the back of a "Nostalgia Special"; A train consisting of Museum R1-9 cars in recent passenger service running to Houston Street-2nd Avenue during this holiday season.  It makes me ask: Is there a Goerck Street in Houston Texas also?

I would like to thank so much the person who posted  and photographed this great shot on "Subchat"

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Flushing Line Front Window View Video of Extension to 34th Street

Flushing Line (#7) Extension Video.  Please find attached this news item dealing with the extension of the Flushing Line extension to 34th Street.  Although the line is not scheduled to open until 2014, the line is operational but the signals and stations are not complete.  All I can say is Wow! .  Posted originally in subchat.  This item can be used only for news services.

Some Comments:

 1. This new extension was constructed using a boring machine at great depth.  This is quite different than traditional "cut and cover" construction close to the surface.

 2.  Notice an unfinished shell of a future station.

3)  Notice the huge 34th Street station.  Why are new stations constructed so fancy and expensive?  Could a "generic station" serve its intended purpose while freeing up some money to extend the line to 23rd Street?  The tracks already extend south of the 34th street station to around West 25th Street.  In my humble opinion, having a "palace" of a station does not add more accessibility to a station than an extension does.

4)  There is no sign of the IND 42nd Street 8th Avenue Lower single track station that the line crosses as about track level at 90 degrees.  That  42nd Street lower station is now destroyed.  Perhaps if there was a link here, the IRT Flushing Line could have gone to 59th Street-Columbus Circle.  Of course there are many issues to solve, naming train width and signaling problems.

  A commenter at Subchat said that at 3:00 you can see the remains of the 42nd Street - 8 th Avenue IND Lower level station which is at right angles to the path of the train.  You can see a yellow painted pillar I believe.  The lower level 42nd Street station was the locale of some well known movies in past years.  The lower level, which is one track, saw some limited service and may have been the starting point of "Aqueduct Specials" to the racetrack, many years ago.  It is a strange station.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Of Baseball Fields and Trolley Loops

With a few hours, two commenters wrote on different subjects but dealing generally with the same area, namely the McDonald Avenue area in Brooklyn between the Ditmas Avenue and Avenue I stations.  One writer wrote about the Swedish Trolley car that ran in 1961 under wire power on McDonald Avenue.  I posted this picture before and the rights to the picture and the trolley itself is stored in the New York Trolley Museum in upstate  New York.  A second writer commented on my posted aerial 1924 view of Kensington Junction including the area around 16th Avenue.  The writer provided a link dealing with a lot between Gravesend Avenue (McDonald Avenue) and East 2nd Street between Cortelyou Road and Ditmas Avenue.  To my surprise, that block was the location of  important Baseball field before the 1920's.....  see comments from Artie:

Well, something that is lost in history is that large, rectangular shape at the bottom of the photo, just to the right of center. This plot of land between McDonald and E. 2nd, and Cortelyou Rd and Ditmas Ave. is "Suburban Oval." A multi-use athletic field on which H.S., Prep School, College AND Professional AND Semi-Profession Major League and Negro League Teams played. This included the Brooklyn Superbas in 1912 and 1913 featuring, among others, Casey Stengel. The owners lost their lease about 1916, and it fell into disuse until the mid-1920s when the land was developed.
More info can be found at

Some aerials of the area are shown below:

The same area before the labels where added:
The next two pictures come from new Daves Rail Pix.

This southbound PCC car 1023 on the 50 McDonald Route is just about to enter the lead track to the Kesington Loop to the left of the picture.  You can see that to the right of the trolley car, the east side of McDonald Avenue south of Cortelyou Road at least between 1951 and 1956 did not have many buildings on it.  Perhaps the shack was previously part of the base ball field?  From the structure of the elevated structure, it looks like the fourth track was not added yet for the future Culver Shuttle and the date of the picture must be the early fifties.  This is from the Dave Pirmann  collection from Joe Testagrose.  The photo of the Swedish streetcar posted is not from this spot.

A PCC car just completed the loop and is headed north.  From the Frank Pfuhler collection.  Notice that the fourth track to the Culver Line Ditmas Avenue station has been added. Also notice the coal bin in the extreme left of the picture.  The traditional Culver Line (mainline) takes a sharp curve east in the background towards the 13th Avenue Station.

Monday, December 16, 2013

Rare Map of the Proposed Second Avenue Subway in Manhattan as of 1974

Source:  Erlitz, Jeffrey, B. In "Second Avenue Subway - Manhattan Section", New York Division Bulletin, Electric Railroaders' Association, Vol. 39, No. 4., April, 1996. p.4.

The attached map is a computer generated map which is based on a map that appeared in the August, 1974 Bulletin.  When the Second Avenue Subway was under construction in the early 1970's,  a number of small sections were built but subway construction stopped when the city went into a terrible fiscal crisis.  I believe a short section was built on the lower east side and another section uptown.  In the map attached, the Second Avenue route stretches from 125th Street to Whitehall Street in lower Manhattan.  The line is interesting because it would have included two track, three track and four track sections with a few interchanges with other lines.  There is also a double deck section in lower Manhattan.  At Grand Street, an cross a platform transfer to Sixth Avenue services was provided.  Currently, the Second Avenue subway is under construction again  only to 96th Street and also stretches north from a connection to the 63rd Street line from West 57th Street.  I believe the line is very deep and only has two tracks and did not utilize the "cut and cover" method that was used to build small sections of the line in the 1970's.  I am not sure if any previously constructed sections in the 1970's is used in the current construction.  This map is very rare and I know some readers would be interested in it.  Tramway Null(0).

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

From the Movie " Roman Holiday "

Folks, I came across this scene accidentally.  Rome Trolleybuses.

Fulton Street Elevated 1936- 1956

Source:  Linder, B. In "New York Division Bulletin" Electric Railroaders' Association, Vol 38, No 2, February, 1995,  pp.2-4.
  The subject matter of this posting, the Brooklyn Fulton Street El has an extensive history of which I know very little.  The line, started in the 19th Century as a elevated steam railroad, served as an important transit link between various districts in Brooklyn via the Brooklyn Bridge to Park Row Manhattan, was very important before the building of the first IRT subway to Brooklyn.  Most of the line was destroyed by June, 1940, but certain sections remained intact to around 1956.  In fact, the section from 80th Street and Liberty Avenue to Lefferts Blvd. is used today by IND "A" trains.  Sections have been rebuilt as you can see from the map.  Interesting points is the multi-level Sands Street terminal and the interchange with the BMT Franklin-Brighton Line,  Also hidden under the Brooklyn Bridge was the Kings County Terminal and the Fulton Ferry Station..  According to the map dealing with the west portion, the map stated that the "interlocking was out of service as of 1/22/34.  A reader asked regarding the Myrtle Avenue Line map that "interlocking out of service 2/23/33" to the High Street Loop.  Does this mean that service ended on that date?  I think that interlocking refers to switches and the signals that control interconnections between tracks.  It is possible that interlocking can be out of service but the rails are still intact and some track movements can take place.  For example, for the interlocking that leads to the Fulton Ferry Station, the station may have been service until 6-1-40 at abandonment but the interlocking was out since 1/22/34.  Perhaps a reader can clarify this for us.  Books can be written on this subject matter.

Tramway Null(0)

 Also, parts of the original Fulton Street El that were not needed in the reconstruction of the line around 1914-19 may have been used as parts used in the construction of the Culver El, specially south of the Avenue X station.

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Trolleybus Art

4th Annual European Trolley Bus Day from Trolleymotion Facebook Page

Concerning my home town, New York City, several generations of children do not know what a trolleybus or streetcar is  Perhaps we can get them to draw pictures of "stink buggies" , AKA "diesel buses".  Nice pictures from the Trolleymotion Facebook page.  Although not connected directly to this topic, many of you may know the "Jackie Gleason Show" with Jackie Gleason who plays the role of a  beloved bus driver.  It is a really funny show.  I am not sure if it is viewed around the world in various languages.  Nevertheless, I was told that originally before going on television in the 1950's, the Ralph Kramden role was not a bus driver in Manhattan but that of a streetcar motorman, perhaps from Brooklyn, but the script was changed.  Who knows if the streetcar conductor role was kept, and so many people love the "Honeymooners", perhaps there would have been less pressure for abandonment in the 1950's in New York City.  Just a thought.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Various Myrtle Avenue El Track Layouts

Source: B. Linder, In The New York Division, Bulletin, Electric Railroaders' Association,  Vol. 39, No. 12, December, 1996, pp.2-4.

A narrative regarding this line will follow in the future.

The track diagrams above are mainly for the period of 1912 to 1969.  The western section of the line was abandoned in the fall of 1969 and was operated with wooden elevated cars called BMT "Q" cars (Queens).  These cars were rebuilt in the 1930's for use on the Flushing Line for service to the 1939 Worlds' Fair.    The "Q" cars were really interesting with a nice seating arrangement, and a interesting LOC / EXP indicator panel in green and red glass at the end of the cars.  Many people are surprised to find out that Myrtle Avenue  and its' el continued west of Jay Street to Adams Street were the line took a sharp curve on its path to the Brooklyn Bridge and Park Row in Manhattan.