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Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Thinking the Impossible: Bringing Back the Culver Line

  Those of us the grew up in rich rapid transit environments that had "days of glory" in the  past have sometimes fantasies or thought experiments "What Would Happen If?" if some service of a much beloved line would be partially brought back.  In subchat, there are individuals that mirror this thought process of asking hard questions of  what would it take to somewhat restore some type of service.   In the universe that we live in, it is hard to bring back what has happened in the past especially if no one shares your views or the proposal is expensive.  It is especially hard like a place like New York City where after 1950, very limited rapid transit expansion took place.  Take the case of Brooklyn:  The last station to open was probably Euclid Avenue or Grant Avenue at the Queens border and this was probably in 1948 or 1950.  In the past 63 years, so many lines and stations were destroyed, including our beloved Culver Line in Brooklyn.  A vast trolley car system vanished with almost no trace.
  In the map below produced in ARCGIS, various railroad and rapid transit shape files were added and building footprints.  Look please at 37 th Street on the left of the picture.  In discussing the culver line, it is important to remember that along 37th Street, the elevated structure was over the SBRR right of way and not over 37th Street.    Private houses have been built along this right of way in may places.  The black and white map shows a dotted line where the approximate location of the el structure was found.

  In the future, I will discuss the Culver Shuttle Right of Way and some interesting points on the topic.  We will discuss the new buildings  built directly on the former Right of Way.

This picture come from an interesting web site called

This picture may be from the period of 1967 ( after the abandoned two tracks on the structure were removed and the end in 1975.    The structure would remain for about another nine years.  Notice the South Brooklyn RR tracks and the "coal silo" to the left of the picture.  This view is facing west on 37th Street west of 13th Avenue.  Actually 37th Street is to the right.

More to follow.

This picture from 1914 shows how the area looked when the Culver Line service was on the ground and before the el structure was constructed.  You are facing west towards 13th Avenue  and you can see the track crossing of the Church Avenue Trolley Line.  You can also see a UFO just at the crossing.  An interesting turnoff to the right where the gentleman is standing may be a lead to the Nassau Electric Yard which was across the street.  37th Street itself is to the right of the picture.  It is this PRW in which housing is being built or it used as parking lots.  Any restoration of Culver Line service, either subway or light rail would need to be now on or over 37th Street.

More to follow
.  This Google Map shot is taken on 37th Street facing west towards 13th Avenue.  The white building behind the trees and the brown three story tan brick building on the left of the shot were probably the same buildings shown above in 1914.  Notice how narrow 37th Street is.  When the El structure existed, the sidewalk on the right was very narrow.  The parking lot was the location of the Culver El and underneath, the South Brooklyn Railroad.  The low tan brick building on the right was the former site of the Nassau Electric Yard for streetcars.  How do I know?  Around 1971 a series of low wood garages occupied the site.  When the building on the right was constructed, the old rubble had to be  removed and it included a lot of railroad rails.

 In the map below, I tried to show the path of any rapid transit facility from Ninth Avenue to Ditmas Avenue.  It is mainly on or over 37th Street and not in the previous PRW.  To be discussed later.

  In the charts below, I write out some scenarios of what the restoration of service on the "Culver Shuttle" would be like after deciding mode, route and other options.  There is almost an infinite number of options available but just remember, this is a thought experiment.  An interesting thought though:  " Why must service be restored to Ditmas Avenue... would Church Avenue be better because it is a potential express stop and G stops there but not at Ditmas... "

What are your thoughts?

 Now that there is housing on the prior private of way, any form of rapid transit will need to take that into consideration.  What is interesting about the former Culver Shuttle, is that some sections still exist or can be made operational.  The Ninth Avenue Station {lower level} has three tracks with third rails available.  Some of these tracks extend southeast of the station to connect with yard track and to a portion of the South Brooklyn Rail Road.  Track on the surface extends to the 37th Street and Ft. Hamilton Parkway intersection.  At the east end, yes, there is a small stump that leads to the Ditmas Avenue Station.  This structure is probably sound but currently has no tracks on it.  The tracks were removed many years after service was abandoned.   This fourth track structure extends beyond the south end of the Ditmas Avenue Station.  If we had the money and permission of residents and elected officials, choices must be made about the mode, destinations and type of terminals decided upon.  The table below shows the many choices.  If an elevated is decided, questions regarding number of tracks, station location and type of elevated.  Would it be a iron "dual contracts" type of elevated or would it be a concrete affair like the line that goes to Kennedy Airport?  Would the residents like an elevated structure over the street?  How about a subway? As soon as the line leaves Ninth Avenue and momentary enters the open air, an incline can take the line into a subway along 37th Street.  Perhaps a one track subway with one station at 13th Avenue with a passing track.  What about Ditmas Avenue?  Should the subway enter a ramp to Ditmas Avenue?  There does not appear to be too much room for this.  Perhaps a one track subway station under the  Ditmas Avenue Station with an elevator to the upper level.  More dreams to follow in the future.

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Using GRASS 6.4.1 To Calculate Water Flow on Mars

Hi Folks:
   Most of this blog deals with mapping and rapid transit issues, particularly street railways and trolleybuses.  I would like to step away for a moment from the rapid transit part and dealing with another mapping issue, mapping other worlds.  Mars has always been  interesting to me on account of the supposed canals.  Perhaps Martians also had some form of rapid transit along the canals?  At any rate, thanks to the internet and interesting map programs as GRASS 6.4.1 which does all sorts of hydrology and other operations, let us see what Mars has to offer?

The following source shots were probably unzipped from a NASA website by myself:

The map below was produced from a shape file of the Mar's surface.  I produced a map in ARCGIS and then transferred the program to GRASS.  The two points of observation are pointed out.  One is in the center of a crater where one of the Rover modules landed in 2004.  Its' approximate location is -260521.36, -87339.29.   I did not get the exact location*.  Notice the "river like" crack south of the crater that goes to the east.  I also picked as a reference point -251316.35 and -1044693.55 which is sort of a projection of some kind near the south side of the crater..

As a experiment:  What would a person at this two locations see on Mars?  Here we are asking about visibility.  Second, how would water flow in the "river" to the south of the crater?  To answer this, we will use GRASS 6.4.1.

*  The location of the rover landing is handled by a separate shape file and I will need to investigate this further.  The coordinate system by default in ARCGIS and GRASS is not the same.  I picked the rover location at he near center of the crater randomly since the surface appears to be relatively flat.  The picture below comes from NASA.  It shows sunset over the Gusev Crater which is the crater that is shown below that has a "river " extending from it's southern section.  The river is called "Ma-adim Vallis".

   In the map above, I used the GRASS contour generator.  My range is from about +4000 m to -4000 m in 1000 m sections.  Notice the river is stands out clearly from the surroundings.  The colors are coded according to elevation.  Essentially, this map is a elevation file that is coded according to altitude.  This was done automatically by GRASS.  Do you see the red circle disk with two projections on the east side near the "river" Ma-adim Vallis..  This high area will also be a frame of reference.  What would an observer see at both locations if the observer is 1.5 meters high?  This is the raster - terrain analysis - visibility sequence.

This is the "visibility" result from the small red disk like projection.  The range is 200,000 meters.
I cannot explain why I got this triangular shape.  When I do the analysis at above 200,000 meters, the system crashes completely.  Perhaps this odd shape is due to a computer problem and not a visual result.  The dot at the north point of the triangle is the frame of reference.

  In the map above, the yellow-green triangle is the visibility from the center of the projection that has the yellow dot in the red disk.  I do not know why I get such a pattern.

In the map below, the GRASS 6.4.1 hydrology program was used to indict flow areas downhill from a rainstorm.  The program will ask you to supply two parameters or more dealing with the length of the vector produced and the number of "cells" that it covers.  Here you will need to try your luck in case you are like me and do not know what you are doing.

The  green lines are theoretical water flow if Mars had a rain storm.  This was based on the elevation file provided.  You can see the outline of the "river" and the outline of the crater.    Notice that the walls of the river have the water flow but not the bottom of the "river" itself.

The above map was produced in GRASS 6.4.1 using the raster-hydration program dealing with water flow and is the same as the picture above except for different settings.  You can see the shape of the Gusev crater and the area where the river is.  The water flow is perpendicular to the river and not along it.  The walls of the crater produce water flow also perpendicular to the walls.

  And I almost forgot, here is the visibility at a random location near where the rover landed in 2004.

The red dot in the frame of reference in the Gusev Crater.  Visibility extends only inside the crater, of course.
Notice at the right side of at the bottom of the crater there appears to be a projection of a low area which appears to be the beginning of the "river".

Another view of the Gusev Crater and Ma-adim Vallis River.

This map was produced in GRASS using the slope aspect.  Various derivatives can be derived from the slope of the elevations.  I believe this is a dxdy partial derivative.

 Below is a map that used GRASS to produce contour lines at 500 m intervals from -4000 to +3500.

Notice how much more information is provided.  The distance between two contour lines is 500 m and you can see how steep the slope is to the "river".

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Another Possible Trolley Overhead Reminder in Brooklyn

  In other posts regarding the South Brooklyn Railroad, I posted a track map showing that for a long time, the only crossing from west to east across Third Avenue in Brooklyn was a one track surface track parallel to 39th Street.  This crossing under the overhead Gowanas Expressway was at grade level and connected with the yards at the waterfront.  Most of the track of the South Brooklyn RR had trolley style overhead mounted either from the familiar trolley poles painted black or wooden troughs mounted under structures.  I remember in the late 1970's at this location, over the track there was a inverted wooden trough with trolley wire in it.  It extended only under the highway structure and did not protrude over the sides. Of course, at the ends of the trough there was no further trolley wire like in the entire New York State except for Buffalo.  I believe this was the only location in New York City were trolley wire then existed over a track; except perhaps the Essex Delancey Street trolley terminal on the Lower East Side where the overhead may still exist over trolley tracks covered over with six decades of dust.  At any rate, the track path crossing Third Avenue may have changed in the past few years as a result of closing of the Davidson's Pipe Yard and the building of Cosco at the former yard site west of that location near 39th Street.  Take a look at the picture attached from Google Maps.  Do you see the support brackets to the former wooden trough that contained the trolley wire?  Notice that the track curves slightly.  I remember that is crossed Third Avenue at right angles.  Or are they just pipe supports?

What do you think?  You are facing east towards the South Brooklyn freight yard between 3rd and 4th Avenues.  This area is so rich in rapid transit history.

Please look at the roof of the highway.  Notice the curved track.  This is the only track connecting east and west sections of the railroad, even in the good days.

Shanghai Trolleybuses seem to get another chance

From "Trolleymotion". Part of this turn around may be due to bad air pollution. City: news archive Shanghai [CN] - change of direction: Renewal of Trolleybusparks D. búdách - 03:03:14 Obviously, a clear change of direction - instead of the abolition of the still extensive trolleybus system, a comprehensive modernization on the plan After several attempts with electric buses have been found with battery or Super Cab energy storage as unreliable, now the transport policy orientation has been changed. About the procurement of 60 Youngman trolleybuses of the type JNP6120BEV1 we reported, the first of them met on 01.26.2014 (see release dated 27/01/2014 ). In February tender was published for the delivery of 230 additional cars, including 200 trolley buses with battery backup drive as so-called "Rechargable Electric Buses" and another 30 cars as battery electric duo-buses which are expected with stronger batteries for longer trips away from the contact line. All vehicles will be 12m long solo vehicle. Delivery is already done for 200 cars in May and June 2014, the remaining 30 to follow a little later. This is the entire current Trolleybusflotte that is continuously less than 10 years old, will be replaced. In addition, the then increased to 290 cars on hand at the end of the temporary mixed operation with diesel buses to run on the remaining trolleybus lines. Currently the lines are 6,8,14,19,20,24,25 and 28 traveled by trolley buses. The new car will also come on the 15 for a year no longer electrically operated line back into use, also on line 22 (since October 2013 without trolley buses). The re-commissioning of the lines 13 and 23 is currently (still) not on the agenda. The trolleybus in Shanghai celebrates in November this year its 100th anniversary and is the oldest operating trolley coach system in the world. Photos: On 13/02/2014 led the first Youngman Trolleybus (J2B0001) a test drive on the line by 15, it was after the retirement of the last two KGP trolleybuses in March 2013, the first trolleybus after almost a year on this line (photo above). A week later, on 22.02.2013 was the Youngman Trolleybus be J2B0009 spotted on a test drive on the line 22. Recordings: Wenchao Song

Sunday, March 2, 2014

An Interesting film from 1949 by the New York City Board of Transportation

Hi Folks:

   Please find below a link to an interesting film made by the New York City Board of Transportation in 1949.  The film is interesting in that it presents the actual sounds of old equipment that have passed away from the scene many decades ago.  The film was not edited correctly, because it shows a train starting out as an IRT Lo-V but as it goes through the system it becomes a IND R 1-9.  Despite these problems, you will see good shots of IRT equipment  (Lo-V's) and the standard IND equipment as well.  You will get to see, even though a few seconds, the iconic skyline of Manhattan through the girders of the Smith-9th Street station.  You will get to see the new IND R-10's and the Euclid Avenue Station.  For those 76 Street investigators, you will get to see for a few seconds the signal board at Euclid Avenue in 1949 about 7 minutes into the film.  Perhaps there is some information there that is useful.  So sit back and enjoy.  It is interesting that no BMT equipment or 3rd Avenue El scenes are shown.  It is important to remember, as it seems to me and I am no expert, the New York Board of Transportation was no fan of streetcars, elevated lines or innovative equipment such as articulated cars.  This is my opinion only.