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Friday, June 12, 2015

Culver El Train at Coney Island Creek, 1939

The private photograph is part of the digital archive at the New York Public Library.  It was taken on August 24, 1939 and it was photographed by P. L. Sperr. The  purpose of this photo was to show road construction near the Shell Road and West 5th Street intersection at the Coney Island Creek.  I am using the photo for research purposes only.  It presents several interesting points: Firstly, even though the Culver Line ran to Chambers Street via the 4th Avenue Subway, wooden el car service was still in existence in 1939.  This was probably a 5th Avenue - Culver El train running to Park Row or Sands Street.  Secondly, even though the el structure at this point was constructed in 1919-20, the el looks much older than other stretches of elevated trackage in NYC built around the same time.  This is because old parts of the BRT Fulton Street El was used for construction  here in order to save money.  If you are able to look closer, you will see that the outside sides of the trackways do not have a cat walk.  Only one catwalk is available for each track and is towards the center.  This situation does not exist today.  The photo is facing north east.  If you can look towards the crane near the train and look to the upper left, you can see an object.  This object might be the moon or it may be a drop of water, or it may be.. ... a UFO.  It looks very strange.

I believe that the wooden el cars are of the "BU" type numbered in the 1300 series.  I believe they were built in 1905-6.  (Source:  Bulletin, May, 1958, Vol. 1, No. 1  "New York Division Bulletin", P. 2.

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