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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.

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