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Monday, April 28, 2014

Bleecker Street Line: The Last Horse Car Line in New York City

Source:  Linder, B.  " Bleecker Street Line:  The Last Horse Car Line in New York City"  In New York Division Bulletin, Electric Railroaders' Association, Vol. 32, No. 2, February, 1989, p.6.

The map below as presented by B. Linder, is as of 1907.  The line started as a horse car line in 1864 and was never converted to electricity or battery.  The line opened for traffic as of 1866 and there is not a complete record of the route changes.  In 1898, the line reached the 23rd Street ferry and around 1903, was from 14th Street and 9th Avenue to Broadway via Bleecker and return via West 4th Street.  The line was discontinued on July 26, 1917.  Many of the smaller lines in Manhattan did not have enough traffic to warrant it to be converted to electric conduit.  Some lines ran on battery power only and some experiments were conducted with compressed air.  With the opening of new subway lines around this time, the line was abandoned even though it was a crosstown line.  Shall we say that this was the beginning of the end?

Thursday, April 24, 2014

New York Times Writer Suggests Harborfront Streetcar Line in Brooklyn to Long Island City Queens

In his article, Kimmelman says streetcars make sense for that part of New York because the sections of Brooklyn and Queens near the line he ...

I am having trouble linking the original article.  More to follow

The line suggested, would go from Red Hook (Ikea) to Long Island City in Queens.  He suggests a new bridge for the streetcar should be built crossing Newton Creek.  Kimmelman suggests this would stimulate development.    I say that this is fine, but any modern streetcar is more comfortable and smooth riding than any bus.   More to follow... Copied Material from NYT article April 24, 2014 below?: I may not have the correct source, please excuse me I am having trouble with my computer (tramway null(0).  I am not sure of the source of the material below:

There’s a wonderful term for the dirt trails that people leave behind in parks: desire lines. Cities also have desire lines, marked by economic development and evolving patterns of travel. In New York, Manhattan was once the destination for nearly all such paths, expressed by subway tracks that linked Midtown with what Manhattanites liked to call the outer boroughs. But there is a new desire line, which avoids Manhattan altogether. It hugs the waterfronts of Brooklyn and Queens, stretching from Sunset Park past the piers of Red Hook, to the Brooklyn Navy Yard, through Greenpoint and across Newtown Creek, which separates the two boroughs, running all the way up to the Triborough Bridge in Astoria. The desire line is now poorly served by public transit, even as millennials are colonizing Astoria, working in Red Hook, then going out in Williamsburg and Bushwick — or working at the Navy Yard, visiting friends in Long Island City and sleeping in Bedford-Stuyvesant. They have helped drive housing developments approved or built along the Brooklyn waterfront, like the one by Two Trees at the former Domino Sugar Refinery. But this corridor isn’t only for millennials. It’s also home to thousands of less affluent New Yorkers struggling to get to jobs and join the work force. Photo On the Brooklyn waterfront, south of the Brooklyn Bridge. Activity on the Brooklyn and Queens waterfronts has revived talk of a route connecting them. Credit Gabe Johnson/The New York Times So here’s an idea: bring back the streetcar. Some of this route is served — barely — by subway lines like the G, the city’s sorriest little railroad. In Astoria, stations for the N and Q are nearly a full mile or more from the East River, meaning a vast swath of that neighborhood is virtually disconnected from the subway system. It’s an area ripe for growth — for new housing, start-ups and other small businesses and industries — all the more so with the coming of the Cornell Tech campus on Roosevelt Island, just across the river and linked to Queens via the F. One can imagine another Silicon Alley spanning Cornell, Astoria, Williamsburg and Sunset Park. Right now, it’s easier by subway to get from Long Island City to Midtown, or from Downtown Brooklyn to Wall Street, than it is to get from housing projects in Fort Greene or Long Island City to jobs in Williamsburg, or from much of Red Hook to — well, almost anywhere

My Opinion:

1)  Since New York City has been hostile to streetcars since the 1920's with Walker's administration ( it has been close to 100 years ) any new streetcar project should start small, in a situation where there is no or little opposition.  The line described is very long and involves building a bridge.  Could you image the opposition from motorist that will have to give up parking and road space, person's whose view will be blocked by wires, people who do not want to crash into trolley support poles and so on?  The longer the line, more complaints from more people and also the cost.

2)  Pick a area which is underserved by rapid transit, such as eastern Brooklyn or Queens, eastern Bronx and big parts of Staten Island.   Build a  line at the end of heavily used subway line  with no other rapid transit in the area.  Try to make the line partially private right of way.  The passengers will see the difference between the comforts of a modern streetcar and a smelly shaky motor bus.

3)  While it is nice to serve the waterfront community with the hope for development, as other critics said, is this the most underserved community?  While it is true that the waterfront community may be far away from rapid transit, big parts of eastern Queens and Brooklyn is underserved as well.

4)  Keep the cost down by using modern track construction that is not deep and use if possible, modern but second hand cars as a first test. Plan your first line were the public wants such a line.  Very fancy neighborhoods may object to having their views blocked by wires. New Yorkers do not know that world capitals of Europe, such a Riga, Moscow, Sankt Petersburg, and Warsaw in the past had their palaces and art museums surrounded by "wires", both trolleybus and tramway.

5)  Instead of stressing development, which is great, stress the comforts of traveling by tram, which is quiet, odorless and smooth and cost effective and environmentally friendly.  Choose a candidate bus line that meets the criteria for such a conversion.  There are hundreds of bus lines in New York City to choose from.

6)  If the above line which is very long is built, I would, if we had the money, make a branch go over the Williamsburgh Bridge to the Essex - Delancey Street abandoned trolley terminal.  In this way, waterfront communities would have a one seat ride to the Lower East Side and or have excess to various subway lines such as the F, J, M and Z lines.  What a waste if such a valuable transit facility, such as the old trolley terminal at that location with tracks and wires should become a underground park?  But, could you imagine the difficulty of bringing streetcars on a New York bridge because of opposition from the motoring public and the New York City Department of Transportation?   I am not sure of this nor do I have the source, but for a period of time, the BRT or BMT wanted to build an extension for streetcar service north of the trolley terminal at Essex Street.  If this happened and a streetcar subway system developed, chances would have increased for streetcar service would not be abandoned since of the good service that such a service would have provided.  Note the tram subways in Philadelphia and Boston that survived the move to motorize everything.  Note the many tram subways in Europe.

More to follow:  Tramway Null(0)

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

The Abandoned Myrtle Avenue Station

This photo was taken off the web.  This station, at Myrtle Avenue and Flatbush Avenues in Brooklyn is not in service.  Originally two local platforms, only the northbound half is partially intact and Manhattan Bridge trains pass it every day.

More to follow this in the future.  Behind the wall are two "express tracks".  I believe the station was abandoned in 1956 due to the total reconstruction of the area to increase through service .  The southbound platform does not exist today and was ripped up to make room for a fifth track in the area.  This was to increase service through the DeKalb Avenue Station once the Christie Street Loop line opened in 1967.  Upstairs, the Myrtle Avenue El was still existing until that time.  Myrtle Avenue in Brooklyn was associated with the three forms of electric transit, namely  els, streetcars and serveral underground stations along the way.  In recent years, there has been much residential building in the area and I wonder if opening of the northbound platform to passengers would be helpful.  I believe that the length of the station has not been expanded and that the area of the platform has been taken over by store rooms.  The station, if opened, would require a major investment  of money.  I have no statistics to show if an reopened station would be helpful or how far the station is away from DeKalb Avenue, the station to it's south.

Possibly more to follow.

Here is a 1951 aerial view of the Myrtle Avenue - Flatbush Avenue Ext. Intersection.  I remember, as a child, seeing a green arch near the Myrtle Avenue El at this area ( above the station).  You can make out the arch from the aerial shot below.  Surprisingly, a 1920's aerial does not show the arch.  Perhaps the arch came after Flatbush Avenue was extended for the Manhattan Bridge.

                                                          Flatbush Ave Ext.

Myrtle Avenue is at the center gong from left to right.  You can make out the arch at the Flatbush Avenue - Myrtle Avenue intersection.  The station is underneath with tracks leading to the Manhattan Bridge.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Some Interesting Views of the 59th Street Queensboro Elevated Line

  Recently, Dave of Subchat posted a series of clear and rare photos of rapid transit topics of high quality.  I would like to share with you two of them; views of the elevated line that crosses the bridge to Queens.

In this 1940 picture, we seem to facing north along 2nd Avenue and we see the turnoff to the Queensboro Bridge.  The Bishop Crook streetlamp has a sign that says East 59th Street.  If you look carefully in the street, you can see conduit trolley track.  Notice the wooden elevated cars as well.  This curve also shows up on a 1924 aerial.  Yes, we are facing north on Second Avenue.

  In this view as well, I believe we are in Manhattan and we are facing Queens.  Notice our "Friends", the two adjustable Gas Tanks.  I am not sure if they are in Manhattan along the shore or in Queens.
Comparing the location of the gas tanks to the entire Queensboro Bridge, I think the tanks our nearby in Manhattan.  When I have more time, I will look at an aerial of the area.  Note, a 1924 aerial shows three tanks near the intersection of East 62nd Street and York Avenue.  So the tanks are in Manhattan right near the river.  They are sitting on some prime real estate.

Notice the conduit trolley track in the street.  The elevated train seems to consist of wooden gate cars.

What a great shot.  From 1940.

Below, another view of the gas tanks: