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Friday, August 7, 2015

Sunset Park and Smith-9th Streets Revisited

  The above photo comes from the digital collection of the New York Public Library and was shot on September 8, 1940 by P.L. Sperry.  You are facing west towards the waterfront in Brooklyn.  You are on 39th Street near the intersection of Fourth Avenue.  The el structure that you are looking at is at 3rd Avenue and 39th Street and it was  part of the 3rd Avenue branch of the BMT 5th Avenue El that was abandoned that June.  Notice how high the elevated structure is.  At this location today, the Belt Highway Gowanas Expressway is found.  On 39th Street, Church Avenue and 8th Avenue streetcars going westbound will reach the 39th Street Ferry terminal where ferry boats will take you to St. George, Staten Island.  At this location, 39th Street is very sloped as you reach the bay.  If you were in a streetcar facing north (to the right), as you pass the cross streets, you may get a peak of the Manhattan skyline and perhaps, the high Smith-9th Street station.  Notice the trolley pole supporting the power cables on the left side of the photograph.  Look at the cap on the pole.  Notice that there is a "pin " in the cap like a arrow.  I remember seeing this as a child on the top of some trolley support poles but I do not know its' purpose.  Does anyone know?

  The above map was produced in a newer version of GRASS.  The new version was able to take my "visibility" old profile from the Smith-9th Street station and bring it on the map.  The green is those areas on the surface, if not blocked by buildings which are visible from the Smith-9th Street station.  I marked off where the Smith-9th Street station is, It is a red dot.  37th Street and Fourth Avenue is shown on the map where the two subway lines converge.  This is two blocks away from where the photo above was shot.  It is possible to see the Smith-9th Street station from 39th Street at spots as shown on the map.  The thicker blue areas are areas on the waterfront that are subject to flooding in 2020 and was part of the original map constructed a few years ago..

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