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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.