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Monday, December 29, 2014

Amsterdam to get Trolleybuses by 2017?

This is from the Trolleymotion website.

 I believe it states that Amsterdam will start to experimenting with trolleybuses in 2017.  The new lines will follow existing light rail lines because the overhead is already installed ( how about the extra wire for the return current?) and there will be off the wire battery capability.  This is very interesting.  I saw in a previous English translation of the article that Amsterdam only plans to purchase electric buses from now on.  Does this mean mainly trolleybuses or battery buses?
    While here in the United States years back trolleybus replacement meant the end of streetcars, I believe  in Amsterdam, that some diesel buses will be converted to trolleybus and not that some tram lines will be converted.  I hope so.  How about also in New York?

trolley:planung - Amsterdam plant Einführung von Trolleybussen
22.12.14 - Ab 2017 sollen in Amsterdam Trolleybusse einen Teil der derzeitigen Gelenkdieselbusse ersetzen, so äußerte sich Alexandra van Huffelen, seit 1. Juni 2014 Direktor der GVB (Gemeente vervoerbedrijf, Betreiber des städtischen Straßenbahn- und Busnetzes der niederländischen Hauptstadt) Anfang Oktober 2014 in einem Radiointerview. Der Austausch der ersten 40 Dieselbusse ist im Jahr 2017 erforderlich, um die Umwelt zu schonen, sollen nur elektrische Busse beschafft werden. Dabei sollen Trassen genutzt werden, wo Busse und Straßenbahn gemeinsam verkehren, hier soll Oberleitung für ... mehr

Saturday, December 20, 2014

A Trip to Prague: Revisited

Hi Folks:

    Several months ago I posted a short video about a trip to Prague in 1960.  It had great music and the photography was something else, beautiful, taken at twilight.  The Prague video from 1960 showed older equipment and some PCC type modern trams.  I also posted below a video taken in 1958 which shows mainly new PCC equipment.

    In may father's trip to Warsaw in 1920's, he described that passengers would hop on and off streetcars.  In the 1960, you can see this very well and I forgot about this.  You can see at points that the streetcar would not stop at all and that people would easily jump on or off.  In fact, the cars at rush hour would have a lot of "hangers on".  In the great clip in 1958, you see less of this with the more modern PCC equipment.  You do see a man leaning out of  an open PCC car door while the car is moving. 

   Every age has a style to it.  Even though Prague was very isolated in the late 1950's and 1960's, you can see that there is a certain style that transcends cultures.  I remember seeing a film called "Desk Set" (1958?) and certain elements of that style can be found in the 1958 Prague Clip.

   In today's world, jumping on or off moving streetcars would probably be banned for the fear of law cases dealing with injuries.  And these were not low floor streetcars.  Enjoy both films, they are great to see.  I believe that the Czechs love their streetcars today while in New York, they have been gone for about 58 years.  Do not wait to see New Yorker's hanging on streetcars soon!

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Interactive Map Test: Several Historic Points in Brooklyn

View Experiment: Transit Facilities in a full screen map

In the test below, I took some points along the 37th Street Corridor and Church Avenue and geocoded them. I then gave a description of the type of transit facility that was available. Thus at Church and McDonald, there is a subway station underground but this intersection had streetcar service until 1956. By moving west ( to the left ) on the map, you can see the remains of the historic railroad lines on the waterfront near 37-39th Streets.

Saturday, November 29, 2014

This Brighton Beach is not in Brooklyn

This Brighton Beach is not in Brooklyn!

It is funny to see a "Brighton Beach" sign on a trolley that is not on a subway car or trolley car in New York.  In fact, I am not sure in he heyday of streetcars in Brooklyn, New York, if a destination curtain had a setting for "Brighton Beach"  in the PCC era.  Since Coney Island was nearby, perhaps Coney Island was a more well know setting.  I think the PCC cars had a setting for Coney Island or West 5th Street Depot instead of "Brighton Beach".  "Brighton Beach" here in Brooklyn is very rich in transit history and probably there was a "Brighton Beach" destination on sign curtains earlier in the 20th Century on street railway equipment.  Of course on BMT subway equipment, such as BMT standards, Triplexes and modern equipment, "Brighton Beach" today and the past is an important terminal.

Enjoy the video from "Down Under".  The destination sign shown in this clip is not really a curtain but is a piece of wood painted with the destinations.

From " 1950's St. Kilda Tram to Brighton Beach" posted by Gezza1967

Tramway Null(0)

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Tarrytown-White Plains-Mamaroneck Line

Source:  NYD Bulletin, ERA Linder, Vol. 37 No. 3, Page 5.
Additional map and narrative to follow some time in the future.

   There is another map to this line and hopefully I will post it soon.  The map not posted shows the line going south via Mamaroneck Avenue.  I am not familiar with the streetcars of Westchester Coun ty, which is the county just north of the Bronx.  According to Linder, the line started as an electric streetcar in 1895 and one branch ended service on November 17, 1929 and another branch on March 11, 1927.  The Mamaroneck service started on June 30, 1898.  Unlike streetcars in Brooklyn and Manhattan, the track layout shows a lot of single track with bypasses.  The line was on its' way to extinction as early as the late 1920's.  I hope to post more in the future.  Tramway Null(0)

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Old Kiev Transport Film

Hi Folks:

   Please look at this interesting film whose subject is the history of Kiev Tramways from 1941 to 1970.  There is also shots of trolleybuses and I believe Kiev built trams running in Warsaw and Prague.  In Russian or Ukrainian, I am not sure, I do not speak both.  I believe there are short clips in Polish and Czech.  I also like the period music.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

The Church and Rogers Avenue Intersection in Brooklyn (1949)

On Friday of this week, it will be 58 years since streetcar service ended in Brooklyn on the Church Avenue Line and the McDonald Avenue Line.  Brooklyn's first trolleybus line, namely the 23-Cortelyou Road Line also ended service on October 31, 1956.  I was very small when service ended on the Church Avenue and certain details I remembered.  As a small child, I was fascinated by the overhead and tracks.  At the Church and Rogers Avenue intersection, I remembered that there were some branch offs, but what was unusual was the branch off to Rogers Avenue, north of Church Avenue on the east side of Rogers Avenue lead to one track, about one trolley length long.  The one overhead line was over the track and also ended above this stub track by what I remember as a "V".  I had no idea what this was for.  Later on, when I started to lack at track maps, I discovered that in earlier years, perhaps prior to 1935, there was a two track turnout from Church Avenue north of the intersection to the Rogers Avenue Line.  In 1935, the turnout consisted of a "Y" configuration.  This "Wye" allowed a eastbound Church Avenue car to swing into this stub track, which was part of the Rogers Avenue Line trackwork, reverse parallel to Rogers Avenue and swing into the westbound Church Avenue trackway in a reverse move.  This came in handy because in 1951, the Church Avenue Line was equipped with single ended PCC streetcars. 

The pictures below come from the New York City Transit Museum Archive and were taken in 1949.

This is the Church-Rogers intersection I believe facing south;  Church Avenue runs from left to right in this picture.  Notice the curved turnout track in the foreground.

The same location but facing north.  Notice the turnout from Church Avenue to Rogers.  In 1949, the Rogers Avenue line may still have been operating and by 1956, the tracks on Rogers except for the stub reversing track were paved over.  From the NYC Transit Museum Archive.
Below is a Google shot of Rogers Avenue facing north from Church Avenue.  In the foreground there is no indication that a stub track was on the right side of the street.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Fulton Street (Brooklyn) "L" Track Plans - 1912

Source:  Linder, B. "Fulton Street 'L' - Track Plans", In New York Division Bulletin, Electric Railroader' Association, Vol. 38, No. 1,  January, 1995, pp.2-4.

For those of you that would like to do research and see the early track plans of the Fulton Street Line in Brooklyn in 1912, please see below.  Notice the Fulton Ferry stub which was very close to the Ferry Line to Manhattan.  The Sands Street station was multilevel and very interesting.  Take a look at "Manhattan Junction" station in 1912.  Some of you are interested in the "Franklin Shuttle" and you can see the prior connection of the "Brighton Line" to the Fulton Street El at the "Franklin Avenue Station".  Parts of the original line at this intersection lasted until the last rebuilding of the line  (Franklin Avenue Shuttle) several years ago.  The structure at Sands Street was complicated and the map does not show the ramp in which streetcars joined the structure for accessing the Brooklyn Bridge.

Indianapolis is to Study Trolleybus Rapid Transit

This interesting information appeared in "Next City" by  Sandy Smith    in their September 30, 2014 issue:

Indy Poised to Build Nation’s First Trolleybus Rapid Transit Line
Among the thousands of projects that received funding in the 2014 round of TIGER grants is one that could lead to the development of a new type of rapid transit using a proven but largely abandoned technology: the nation’s first trolleybus rapid transit line.
Indianapolis’ Fox 59 notes that the $2 million TIGER grant awarded to the Indianapolis Metropolitan Planning Organization moves the city one step closer to construction of the Red Line, a 28-mile long north-south line running from Carmel to Greenwood via downtown Indianapolis that would be operated by electric buses drawing their power from overhead trolley wires.
The grant will pay for engineering and design studies; the cities of Carmel, Greenwood, Westfield and Indianapolis will chip in to cover the remaining one-third of the $3 million cost of the studies.
A number of U.S. cities purchased trolleybuses, or “trackless trolleys” as they are also known, in the 1940s and 1950s to replace aging streetcars, but most of the cities that operated them eventually took down the wires. Seattle and San Francisco have the most extensive trolleybus systems still in operation today; both cities kept their lines because trolleybuses are better able than diesel buses to scale their steep hills. Boston and Philadelphia also still operate trolleybus routes, but the proposed Indianapolis line would be the first use of trolleybuses in BRT service.
The mayors backing the “rail on tires” proposal tout it as giving Indianapolis an edge in attracting younger residents. Funding to cover construction of the line has yet to be lined up.
The Works is made possible with the support of the Surdna Foundation.
Philadelphia freelance writer Sandy Smith runs the Philly Living Blog for Noah Ostroff & Associates, a Philadelphia real estate brokerage. A veteran journalist with nearly 40 years’ experience, Smith writes extensively on transportation, development and urban issues for several media outlets, including Philadelphia magazine online.

Comments:   I have in my archive from the Electric Railway Association that around August, 1989, the New York City Transit Authority had plans for a sort of Trolleybus Rapid Transit lines in Brooklyn on Church Avenue and near Co-op City (Bx15) in the Bronx and Second Avenue in Manhattan..  Around 1992, the MTA started to actually study this.  Around this time also. Los Angeles also planned a large trolleybus system.  Because the Los Angeles system fell through (in favor of Light Rail), the New York City interest failed as well because of linkage.  Bus Rapid Transit did come to New York City on various routes, but of course, without the trolleybuses.
I wish Indianapolis and its' citizens good luck with this project, they need it.

Tramway Null(0)

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Pelham Subway Line: Track Plan as of 1988

Source:  Linder, B.  "Pelham Bay Line" in New York Division "Bulletin", Vol 31., No. 9, September, 1988, pp.2-7.

  In this older track map of 1988, Linder provides also some interesting statistics regarding ridership.
When the line was built, sections opened in stages from August 1, 1918, to 138th Street-3rd Avenue; to Pelham Bay Park on December 20, 1920.  Notice the temporary inspection shed on the surface north of the Whitlock Avenue Station.  When  the Pelham (Westchester) yard was opened in July, 1927, the inspection sheet was taken out of service.  In the early 1920's the northeast Bronx was not developed and the subway helped create new homes for many persons.  Through service was not provided for many years and either shuttles were operated north of Hunts Point Road or trains were turned.  Express service did not start between 138 Street-3rd Avenue and 177th Street until October, 1946 probably because of an increase in passengers from the huge Parkchester housing complex at East 177th Street.    The peak year for fares was 1947 and then the numbers fell off.  Co-Op City opened in the early 1970's but passenger count fell.  I remember the IRT in the 1970's:  Older R type of equipment, without air conditioning and terribly marked up by Graffiti.  Private express bus service came to Co-Op City on January 18, 1971 providing a cool one seat ride at least to 23rd Street and Madison Avenue.  When Co-Op city opened,  the local paper promised that monorail service was "just around the corner".  Well folks, stop looking at your watches, it does not seem that it will come soon, nor light rail, but there is some talk of creating a "Co-Op City" station on the railroad line east of the complex.  The drop in ridership in the 1970's was the result of the fall of population in the South Bronx and the success of the air conditioned express buses.    The article states  that when older equipment was refitted with air conditioning or the new R62A's arrived on the scene, subway ridership on the Pelham Bay Park Line improved.  Just a note, Co-Op City is north of the Pelham Bay Park station.  To reach Co-op City, years ago many people walked on the highway or took shuttle buses to the five Co-Op City sections.  Co-Op City is located where the New England Thruway and the Hutchinson River Parkway meet in the Northeast Bronx.  The Pelham Bay Park station is the gateway to City Island, Orchard Beach, Pelham Bay Park and Co-Op City and Westchester County.

To be continued.....

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

A Map of the New York Waterfront in the 1940's from the Rutger's University Map Lab

  Rutgers University in New Jersey has a map lab site that has links to all sorts of historical, geological, typological and so on maps.  Other map sites are linked and much information can be obtained.  Although I probably should not post their maps, I am doing it for research purposes only.

Please see the map below:

This very interesting map shows the railroads that had terminals on the west bank of the Hudson River across from Manhattan in the 1940's.  To reach Manhattan, passengers needed to take a ferry across the river.  Many of the former streetcar lines in Manhattan greeted these passengers.  Please take a look at the western shore of Manhattan and the lower east side towards Brooklyn.  Many piers existed for commerce and the Port of New York was an important one.  Today, the Port of New York is not so strong because of the change of technology how shipping is handled (containers).  Many of the piers near the former World Trade Center are gone.

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Some Flooding Scenario Maps for Greenpoint and Long Island City

  In the maps below, I show some flooding scenarios based on  New York City RIM files.  These maps are produced on a "what if" basis if the polar ice caps should melt at a steady pace going to the year 2080.  These flood maps seem to be based on elevation.  In the recent local news, in the real estate sections are reporting  increased building activity in the Greenpoint and Long Island City areas of Queens.  Many of these zones of increased building activity are taking place a few hundred feet or less near the waterfront.  I am sure that the developers of these projects are taking into effect future water levels.  I would like to tell my readers that they should not make any decisions based on these maps.  I cannot tell if these maps are accurate or if the water level will rise due to melting ice caps.  I thought that the readers should be aware of this, if they are not so already.  Last weekend, the "G" train that was closed down for underwater tube reconstruction reopened.  It goes through the target area.  These Greenpoint tubes suffered much water damage due to superstorm Sandy.  I also wanted to show  mapping techniques as well.  It is possible to get a typographic map of New York City from the Rutgers' University Map Lab and bring it into a ARCGIS map. What is nice is that this file does not need to be geo referenced.

In the above map, I bring in the street pattern for Greenpoint Brooklyn and Long Island City Queens.  The black thick lines are the subway routes in the area.  You will see three flood scenarios for the area for years 2020, 2050 and 2080.  The location of the "G" line is indicated.  The "G" train crosses the Newtown Canal as indicated by the arrow.

In the map above, I brought in one flood stage scenario (2020), subway routes and a typographic map from around 1975 of the area.  This can be obtained from the Rutgers" University Map Lab.  It can be added to an ARCGIS map very easily.  At the Rutgers University Map Site, select New York City Typographic Maps.  Choose the "tile" that you need and download it as zip file to your desktop.  Open your already existing map in ARCGIS and add the *.tiff file after the file that was downloaded was unzipped.  It does not need to be geo referenced which can be a pain.

The map above is produced by GRASS and shows the direction and strength of water flow for the area based on rain and elevation.  The direction and thickness of the bars shows flow and direction.

I am not an expert in reading this but it seems that surface waterflow is not an issue for the area.  Notice the big waterflow vector for the Lower East Side of Manhattan to the left of the map.

Please ignore the legend.

Sunday, August 31, 2014

NewsFlash: Los Angeles eHighway to be constructed and completed in July, 2015

  Several years ago, I reported about experiments with trolley trucks in Europe.  It seems that according to the attached article, a test system will be built in Los Angeles near the port.  The line, about a mile long will go directly into the port and construction is to begin in early 2015 and be completed by July, 2015.  Perhaps the interest this experiment generates will bring renewed interest in trolley buses as well.  This is very good for the environment.

Friday, August 29, 2014

Somewhere Along McDonald Avenue

The photo below, also comes from the New York Transit Museum Archives and it is from the Lonto-Watson collection.  It was taken on April 9, 1955 somewhere along McDonald Avenue.  This is the period after the Culver Line was "captured" by the IND Subway in October 1954 and PCC streetcars were found on the last three streetcar lines in Brooklyn (Church Avenue, Church-McDonald and Coney Island Avenue)  Streetcar service ended under the Culver Line on October 31, 1956.  This great shot shows a train of R1-9 cars on the Independent "D" Line (Sixth Avenue Line) between 205th Street in the Bronx and Coney Island.  Great side view shot of the PCC car and the"D" train. The PCC car shares its' tracks with the South Brooklyn Railroad.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Another Look at the Delancey-Essex Street Trolley Terminal at the foot of the Williamsburgh Bridge

 These series of photographs were available at the New York City Transit Museum website in their archive division.  My attempt here is not to "steal" them but just to present to you some photographs that are not that well known.    I believe about a year ago plans were announced to make the former trolley terminal, at the southern side of the Essex Street subway station in Manhattan, on the Lower East Side into an underground park lighted by natural light conveyed through fiber optics.  Other transportation facilities in Manhattan, such as the former "High Line", an elevated freight line on the west side.  Please look at these photographs and you will see that the former trolley terminal has many characteristics in common with an ordinary subway station and is similar to the trolley terminal at Newark station in New Jersey.  These photographs come from the Lundin Collection.

In these photographs, you can see the overhead wire support apparatus and the shiny tracks.

In my humble opinion, such a resource should not be wasted.  If the city wanted to construct a light rail line across the Williamsburgh Bridge today, how much would such an underground terminal cost if built from scratch?  I believe that west of the trolley terminal provisions were made to join the trolley tracks to the BMT Jamaica Line downtown to Canal Street or for a new trolley subway tunnel perhaps north of Delancey Street.

    Many areas in northern and eastern Brooklyn are experiencing a real estate boom with the "L" train severely overcrowded.  I would:
  1. Bring streetcars across the bridge.  I would not use heavy light rail vehicles but very light streetcars.  Their tracks can be in the regular roadway without requiring deep construction.
  2. Some bus lines in the area near Washington Plaza would be converted to streetcar so they can make the trip across the bridge.
  3. If possible, some streetcars should use the less used tracks south of the station to the area around Canal Street.
  4. By converting some bus routes in Williamsburgh or Greenpoint to streetcar, a one seat ride can be provided to Essex Street were transfer can be made to the J, M, Z or F trains without going into the street or having a smelly diesel bus terminal on the surface.
This is my opinion but I do not know if this is doable from a practical and engineering standpoint.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Some New York El Drawings from the 1930's

   The el system that developed in Manhattan from the middle of the 19th Century was quite useful in transporting cheaply and efficiently passengers for many years.  Els also developed elsewhere in New York City as well, particularly in Brooklyn and Queens and as extensions to Manhattan els into the Bronx.  Other cities, such as Philadelphia, Boston, Chicago and perhaps Kansas City as well had their el lines as well, with Chicago perhaps being more famous for having els more  than Manhattan.  With the development of subways, the pressure to get rid of els increased because they were considered eyesores as well.  In an very interesting blog called "Ephemeral New York", some of the topics covered here, such as gas tanks, old buildings and els are discussed in detail.  I came across some interesting drawings made in the 1930's on one of our favorite subjects, the els of Manhattan.  These drawing are posted in their blog.

In the drawing below, by Francis Criss is a 1933 drawing titled "Third Avenue El".
This somewhat abstract drawing also contains a "Bishop Crook" streetlamp.

The next drawing is etching by Martin Lewis (1931) and shows the el station at 6th Avenue and 23rd Street in a winter storm.

  You really get the feeling of being in Manhattan on a snowy day  I know how it feels.  What a wonderful drawing showing the period clothes and the postures of the people on the street.  Under the staircase is a small news booth.

Our last drawing was drawn in 1934 by Charles L. Goeller and is titled "Third Avenue".

 This drawing is in a different style than the two above.  Notice the space rocket like famous New York skyscraper and of course, a few of my Bishop Crook streetlamps. 

More discussion will hopefully follow in the future.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

New York Railways Eighth Avenue Line (1855? -1935)

Source:  Linder, B. "Eight Avenue Line" in Electric Railroaders Association " New York Division Bulletin", Vol. 32, Number 9, September, 1989, pp.2- 5.

  The track map below refers to the New York Railways "Eight Avenue" streetcar line in Manhattan.  According to Linder, the exact date of the start of horse car service is not known but the 1855 date is the date that the company bought from the owners the road from Barclay Street to 59th Street.  The line was extended in stages to 159th Street and Eight Avenue in 1897.  Portions of the line were electrified in 1898.

   The Eighth Avenue streetcar line does not follow the Eighth Avenue Subway directly that runs under it, but they share some common streets such as Eight Avenue in midtown and a portion of uptown.  The IND (Eighth Avenue) subway opened in 1932 but construction started in 1925.  Since the construction was mainly of the "cut and cover" kind, this would mean that the surface had to be turn up, including the trolley tracks and its' underground conduit.  Since according to Linder, there does not appear to have been major disturbances to streetcar service during construction (at least as explained in his brief article), streetcar service may have run on temporary tracks.  At any rate, by 1932, perhaps new track was installed on the surface of Eighth Avenue.  It is ironic that three years later, in 1935, the line was abandoned even though the track was relatively new.

Around 1904, a branch of the Eighth Avenue Streetcar opened to the Cortlandt Street ferry via Greenwich Street, Dey Street Washington Street and Cortlandt Street.  If you look at the downtown portion of the map, you can see the curve at Fulton Street and Church Street.  Fulton Street used to run from river to river.  The Fulton - Church Street intersection was at the entrance to the old World Trade Center.  Of course, before the development of the first World Trade Center, the street pattern was different and you had in the area a lot of electronics stores.  With the construction of the World Trade Center superblock in the late 1960's, the smaller streets at the site were eliminated.  This was the area of the historic Corlandt Street Ferry.

Friday, August 8, 2014

A View of the Culver Viaduct from Below

Many of my posts deal with the area around the Smith-9th Street station in Red Hook.  This viaduct, that includes the Smith-9th Street station was built in the late 1920's and early 1930's for the city run Independent  (IND) subway extension to Church Avenue.  Unlike earlier elevated lines, this structure is very high and the steel is covered with a layer of concrete.  This viaduct has just recently undergone a multi dollar renewal.  This is not the only concrete viaduct for subway service.

  In this shot below, which is taken from the New York Transit Museum archive, shows Smith Street facing north.  The Smith-Street station is towards the photographer's back and you see the curve of the structure as it swings to the west and starts to decline into the tunnel.  The structure is not over Smith Street but to the west side of the street.  Smith Street had trolley service as well.  The photo was taken on November 29, 1950 by Leon and it is part of the Lundin Collection.  You are looking at Smith Street between West 9th Street and Huntington Streets.

  If you look to the right (east side of Smith Street), you can see not one, but I believe two gas tanks (holders) that are adjustable?   It is said that gas tank site has many toxins buried underneath.

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

A Trip to Prague, 1960

Hi folks.  Please check out this old video of the Prague Tramway system in 1960.  A lot of old equipment which was trolley pole driven.  A lot of focus on the overhead and architecture.   Views of street construction, trolley breaking systems and you will hear a nice jingle.


Very nice with great photography from 1960.  In black and white.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Having Your Trolleybus and Eating it Also

  Friends, I came across an interesting Facebook posting called "Trolleybus".  It is interested in trolleybuses only and has very interesting items on "Trolleybus Art".  Simply type in "Trolleybus" where you want to find friends.

This posting comes from this site.  Even though  I cannot read Russian script, this is very interesting.

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Anniversary of the Last Trolley Bus in Brooklyn (July 27, 1960)

     July 27, 1960, over fifty years ago, was the last date of trolleybus service in Brooklyn.  Not all of the several lines made it to this end
 date.  The Cortelyou Road route ended on October 31, 1956 and I believe  the St. Johns Place line ended in 1959.  Except for the Cortelyou Road line, the few Brooklyn-Queens operated about 12 years only while the Cortelyou Road line was established in either 1930 or 1932.  Trolleybuses never made it New York City.  In Staten Island, an early operation was set up in the 1920's but did not last long.  It was operated by the New York City Department of Plants and Structures.  Around 1992, there were plans to operate trolleybuses in Manhattan on 2nd Avenue in a "Select Bus Service" format, but nothing came of this plan.  I saw in 1989, in one of the  of ERA  "Headlights" that there were plans for a select bus service using trolleybuses for the B-35 Church Avenue Route and a route going to Co-op City in the Bronx (BX-15).  Many years ago, an official at the New York City Transit Authority told me that a section of trolleybus wires existed under a wooden trough under the IRT Flushing Line el structure at Woodside.  A similar section may have also existed someplace in the Bronx as well.  I am not aware of any trolleybus operation in these two boroughs (except for some Brooklyn lines that crossed over into Queens, such as the Flushing Avenue Line).

Looking back from the late 1960's with the birth of the environmental movement, some people predicted that trolleybuses will make a big comeback across the United States and the world.  They were wrong in the sense that light rail and streetcars made a comeback while trolleybuses stagnated or kept their own.

 For New York City, July 27, 1960 marks the end of a form of electric transportation, on the surface that was in regular service.  Of course, in 1961 there was a private operation of a Swedish trolleycar under the Culver Line and much later, experiments such as Bob Diamond conducted, but July 27, 1960 was really the end.  It is unlikely that any form surface transportation will use overhead wires in New York City ever again.

  This shot comes from the archives of the New York Transit Museum. It was taken on 10/26/48 and it is part of the Lundin collection.  This is at the Fourth Avenue - Flatbush Avenue intersection.  You are seeing a Flatbush Avenue Streetcar and a St. Johns Place trolleybus.  For about two years,  both electric lines shared the street.  The Flatbush Avenue line was motorized in 1951?

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Another Look at the Smith-9th Street Area in Brooklyn: 1952

  This picture was taken from a Gowanus Area blog but the original photograph is the property of the Brooklyn Public Library.  It was taken in 1952 under the title of "Vital Waterway".  In this remarkable shot, you are facing north on the Gowanus Canal.  You see the Smith-9th Street elevated subway line crossing the canal.  The station is very high because the 9th Street drawbridge is right under it.  I believe that a year earlier, on February 11, 1951, the Smith Street trolley died.  It ran under the station  and over the  9th Street drawbridge.  You see the movable (adjustable)  gas tank in it's correct position.  Surrounding the canal was various cement and coal companies. I believe Cirillo Brothers was a coal company and they had  branch(es) near the Culver Line at the 13th Avenue Station.  In later years, I believe they became a supplier of fuel oil for heating.  In the right side of the shot, you see the Williamsburg Bank Building, which was for that time and perhaps until recently, the highest building in Brooklyn.  To the left, you see some of the tall office buildings on Court Street Brooklyn.  Manhattan skyscrapers do not show up in this photo.  To this day, this area is industrial with cement companies but there are plans for housing near the canal.  I believe Bob Diamond wants to link this area to the Red Hook Streetcar  as well.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Let Me Vent Again II

  In an earlier post, I told you about my experience as a child riding on the Fourth Avenue Subway in Brooklyn, particularly on express trains, and seeing in the tunnel at almost each block, a large amount of sunlight illuminating the two middle express tracks.  There was so much light, that a casual observer on a rainy day may see that the third rail protection boards were wet.  These illuminated vaults, stretched from south of Pacific Street to south of the 36th Street station.  I do not remember if the outer Fourth Avenue Line, to 86th Street had the same types of vents.  Around 1960, they were gone probably because the Department of Transportation made the middle island narrower so more lanes could fit in the street.  Also, the grill work does not allow that much sunlight to enter.

    In the picture below, obtained from the New York Transit Museum Archive, is a 1910 photo showing the Fourth Avenue subway under construction.  You can see the alignment of the vents above.  A lot a sun light comes in, even though in this case, the grillwork has not been installed yet on the central median.   If you look further down the track, the light vault seems to repeat at the next block.

  It was nice to be in a triplex Type D Sea Beach Express train on the express track and seeing the interplay of light and shadow while listening to the beautiful music that the Triplexes produced.  The original IRT subway, for most sections was built cut and cover and the roof of the tunnel was supported by steel girders.  When the Independent Subway was built, usually a solid cinder block or cement wall separated the express and local tracks.  In the Fourth Avenue Subway in Brooklyn, at least between 36th Street and Pacific Street, a slotted wall separated the express tracks from the local tracks.  Notice that this slotted was is on the right of this picture.  The vents are above a wall separating the uptown and downtown express tracks.  This visual interplay of light and dark, as viewed through a slotted wall was very interesting and this wall had an effect on the sounds that were emitted by the Triplexes or the BMT Standard Cars.

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Some Interesting Shots from the New York Transit Museum: Church Avenue, Cortelyou Road and McDonald Avenue Lines

  The New York Transit Museum, located in downtown Brooklyn has a photo archive of many historic shots of the transit system on all levels: elevated, subway, streetcar, trolleybus and so on.  It is not my aim to steal anything from them in this blog, but to introduce to you some interesting information that was not usually seen or available.  So please excuse me for the quality of the shots.  Many of the shots were taken in the late 1920's before construction started on the Independent Subway  on the Prospect Park Line to Church Avenue.

In this shot, you are facing west on Church Avenue.  You are looking at the 13th Avenue Station of the Culver Line.  The lumber yard was probably the site of the Nassau Electric trolley garage.  I remember the pointed building but if you look to the left of it, you see an annex.  At the extreme left you see a white chimney.  This building is still in existence.

Another shot of the lumber yard, but you are facing east.  Notice how close to the building the eastbound Church Avenue trolley track is.  You are technically at number 1 Church Avenue, at Old New Utrecht Road, which is a historic street and most of it does not exist today.
 You are looking north on Gravesend Avenue (McDonald Avenue) before the IND subway ramp was built.  The store is on the corner of McDonald Avenue and Cortelyou Road.  This shot is probably before the Cortelyou Road trolleybus line was established.   Notice that in the middle of Gravesend Avenue, the tracks are on its' own right of way and this was the historic path of the Culver Line when it was a steam railroad.
   Another view at the same location looking north from Cortelyou Road.  Notice that the private right of way ends further north.  The storage building is still in existence and southbound F Train riders greet it every day as the train descends into the tunnel.
 The same location but in 1944, slightly, to the south of Cortelyou Road.  You can see the two wooden troughs for the Cortelyou Road trolleybus wires (perpendicular to McDonald Avenue, under the El).  Notice that by 1944, the ramp to the IND subway was complete but only one track was installed.  This ramp would not come into service until 10 years later on October, 1954.  Notice the southbound trough for southbound streetcars.
 In this rare photo, you are looking east towards the junction of the original Culver Line and the Independent Subway.  This location is where the Cortelyou Road trolley bus curves onto Dahill Road near the 37th Street Park.  Notice the graceful trolleybus wire curve.  Like its' sister, the Cortelyou Road trolleybus died on the same day (including the McDonald Avenue Line) on October 31, 1956.
 The same location as above, but facing west.  The line just left Cortelyou Road and is swinging towards Dahill Road.  The trees are at the 37th Street Park.  The line will make a swing to the right unto 16th Avenue and eventually reach the BMT West End Station at 62nd Street.

This is at the same area as above, but from the Kensington Loop of the Church Avenue Line and McDonald Avenue Line, midway between Ditmas Avenue And Cortelyou Road. Notice the coal silo.  If you look in the shot above, just above the AAA sign, you can see the silo.  The silo was parallel with Dahill Road.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Hello Beautiful! Russia's R1 New Generation Tram

Hi Folks:

   I believe yesterday a new generation of trams for Russia was presented at a exhibition.  Labeled the "R1", this innovative tram was produced by a high tech Russian military tank manufacturer.

  There are more pictures but I am having trouble with the blog.  More to follow in the future.  There is much to discuss.

Friday, July 4, 2014

Does the number "35" go to FIRST AVENUE but not the Fishbowl?

  In the late 1950's, in New York City and elsewhere, many of the older buses, and of course, some of the last trolleybus lines were replaced by modern and sleek new diesel buses produced by General Motors.  They were given the nickname "Fishbowls" because of the large curved windscreen at the front.  In New York City, for many years, for both Transit Authority and private buses, the fishbowls ruled.  When the fishbowls came to Brooklyn and elsewhere, I noticed as a small child, that the front destination signs were not that clear.  In those early years, there were no side signs and no back signs or route numbers in the back of the bus.  I remember the following signs:


  In Manhattan, I remember:

 So my question was, is it the number "35" going to First Avenue but not the bus and passengers?
And,  which FIRST AVENUE are we going to?  There is a FIRST AVENUE in Brooklyn at the waterfront, as shown in this blog regarding the Church Avenue Trolley loop.  There is a FIRST AVENUE in Manhattan as well.  There is probably a FIRST AVENUE in Seattle as well.  So which FIRST AVENUE are we going to?  And is the number going only?

It could be worse, for the sign could have said:  1 TO GRAND.
Grand Street, Grand Avenue and in which borough?  What happens if Grand Street is very long.  Which intersection are we going to?

The point that I am trying to make is that the signs, as planned by our transportation planners were not so grand, after all.

 A Fishbowl in Brooklyn on the 60th Street route.  I believe near Flatbush Avenue.  This fishbowl had a side destination sign installed near the rear doors sometime in the 60's.

Sunday, June 29, 2014

A Tale of Two Cities Continued: Chicago and New York: Which Is More Anti-Trolley?

  One of the things that I neglected to mention on the present subject in the prior posting is that Chicago had interurban service via the downtown loop.  In other words, various type of equipment, from private railroads in the suburbs of Chicago provided suburban to center city service via the elevated system.  Please see the picture below from 1957:

In New York, suburban service, let us say using the Long Island Railroad to Park Row in Manhattan and New York and  New Haven and Hartford RR service to 129th Street and 2nd Avenue was not the norm.  In the 19th Century and perhaps up to 1919, the Long Island Railroad at times used the right of way of various Brooklyn Rapid Transit Lines to reach Manhattan and other destinations.  NY & NH & H RR service to Manhattan to via El was gone very earlier and only a small portion of the existing El structure was used.  In Chicago, various interurban services used the downtown loop for many years, and some of this equipment used traditional trolley poles and wires before connecting with the el system.

To be continued...

  So which city is more anti-trolley?  It is hard to tell.  Chicago has kept its' streetcars for two more years than did New York, however Chicago streetcars where front and center in the business district.   Since 1936, Chicago Surface Lines and later the Chicago Transit Authority ran the biggest fleet of modern PCC cars, 683 in all.    The 600 postwar models were very modern, spacious with three doors.  The trolleybus fleet lasted until 1973, thirteen years longer than New York with many lines running almost to the end.

Unscientific Research by Sampling

   For several years, I have been using search words "streetcar" and "transportation" in the Google News Section and for here in the United States, some interesting things come up.  About ten years ago?, I came across a plan to bring streetcars back to downtown Chicago.  The line would have been a loop line.  Since that time, I have heard nothing about streetcar developments for Chicago.  Of course, other aspects of Chicago rapid transit are covered in the news including new subway\elevated equipment, funding, crime, routing and fare collection, but nothing about proposed streetcar or light rail lines for Chicago.  
   In New York, plans for streetcars on 42nd Street have been discussed since the 1970's.  In fact, a line for 42nd Street was almost successful, including passing the planning board, funding, lawsuits and other red tape.  At the last moment, the mayor would not sign off on it because he was concerned about the "pipe infrastructure under 42nd Street".  The entire project died around 1993 and it is ironic that there was not a major pipe infrastructure water main break  all the years since on 42nd Street.
      Looking at the news for the past 15 years for New York reveals that periodically, there is some streetcar data in the news, perhaps every sixth months and includes:
  1. New plans for streetcars on 42nd street without  wires (Vision 42).
  2. Bob Diamonds' attempts to bring streetcar service to Red Hook.
  3. A Department of Transportation  study concerning a possible Red Hook streetcar line.   That study decided it was not a good idea since it would take up parking spaces.
  4. Various plans to link Red Hook with Downtown Brooklyn and recently other waterfront communities to Williamsburgh and beyond all the way to Long Island City.
  5. A plan for streetcars on the Grand Concourse in the Bronx.
  6. A plan to run light rail service on the North Shore Branch of the Staten  Island Rapid Transit right of way and a new light rail line in western Staten Island (under study).
  7. Streetcars for Surf Avenue in Brooklyn in the Coney Island amusement area.
  8. A plan to run streetcars from the Red Hook waterfront to the Smith-9th Street subway station and beyond.
  9. There is a New York Regional Plan document suggesting streetcar service in Manhattan  on 34th Street and 42nd Street from river to river in the form of a loop.
Every six months you hear something about these projects and others, but nothing materializes.
Even the anti-trolley MTA had a plan about twenty years ago to run a light rail line from Union Square to the lower east side and to our beloved Chambers Street station via a tunnel near Essex Street as an alternative to an expensive 2nd Avenue Subway.

  In a future post, I will tell about the difficulty of building a light rail or streetcar lines in the United States, as shown by the news reports of those difficulties for  establishing lines in Washington, D.C, Seattle, and elsewhere.  In short, Washington DC info is everyday in the news but no information regarding Chicago or New York for the matter.

To be continued.

    Doing a Google search for "Streetcar" & "Transportation" ( If I did "Streetcar" alone, I would get reviews to the play "A Streetcar Named Desire") reveals that for such cities such as Detroit, El Paso, Cincinnati, Washington, DC and others, streetcar news is almost daily. Either there is a vote for funding, or opposition to funding,  problems with route selection, better use of resources and so on.  For Chicago and New York, dealing with streetcars we have silence for many months and many years.  In my humble opinion, and I am not a transportation engineer or in the field, I find it ironic that for two of America's biggest cities,  namely New York and Chicago, out of hundreds of bus routes, not a single route would qualify from an engineering standpoint for conversion to streetcar?
Anti trolley cities, such as Paris and London, which have similar history profiles regarding streetcars and trolleybuses in terms of abandonment, now have a few nice low floored streetcar lines.  Why not Chicago and New York?  Forget streetcars are a source of "development ".  New York and Chicago are developed already in the Central Business District.  What about comfort for passengers?
Just my opinion folks.