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Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Second Avenue El ended 6/13/42

This lithograph was posted in "Subchat" by "Queensboro Plaza" a few days ago.  It is a 1930 drawing by L. Lozowick and it shows, I believe where the Queensboro Bridge branch of the 2nd Avenue El separates from the 2nd Avenue mainline around 59th Street.  I think that it is very cool.  The late teens, 1920's and the beginning of the 1930's was the golden age of rapid transit.

Earlier picture of the 2nd Avenue El posted in this blog.

Second Avenue Elevated RIP

Posted by qveensboro_plaza on Tue Jun 13 16:54:49 2017
In remembrance of the final segment of the Second Avenue El closing on June 13,1942, 75 years ago today, here is a 1930 lithograph by Louis Lozowick:

Sunday, April 30, 2017

I Found a Gem

Hi Folks:

  I came across this video by accident.  It is titled " Trolley Lines of Brooklyn PCC Cars Home Movie 52964MB" .  This movie was shot by Ben Young during the period of 1951 to 1956 and concentrates on the last three PCC operated lines in Brooklyn, Namely the Church Avenue, McDonald Avenue and Coney Island Avenue lines.    I never saw such a long trolley video and it lasts 29 minutes.  This movie covers many of the topics that is discussed in this blog.  A heavy concentration is on the portion of the Church Avenue line at the waterfront, just four blocks from the future Luchenbach ship disaster in December, 1956.  You see in detail the private right of way between First and Second Avenues to the loop.  You see hilly 39th Street as well with a shot a 39th Street 13th Avenue at the fruit store, which may have been called "Burdo Brothers - Poor People Friends".  You look up 13th Avenue and you see the Culver Line.  You will see the garages that I spoke about at 37th Street and the Lumber yard, the former Nassau Electric depot.  You see the Ocean Parkway underpass and you can catch a view of the Kings County Hospital main tower in the distance.  Some Culver Line shots are also shown with B type and AB type BMT standard cars.  You will also see the Ninth Avenue Depot and McDonald Avenue with a sharp decline to Coney Island in the distance.  Other shots include the Coney Island Avenue line at Church Avenue and the private right of way near the ocean with BMT trains overhead at the Ocean Parkway station.  The Coney Island Avenue viaduct over the Belt Highway is shown with PCC cars running gracefully in the middle.

Much more.  Copy and paste the code below in your browser.  You will really enjoy this.

It was nice to see all the old stores again.  The PCC Cars really ran fast and kept up  in traffic.

Tramway Null (0)

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Proposed Waterfront Streetcar Between Brooklyn and Queens may be in Trouble

Hi Folks:

  Sorry for being away, but not too much was happening.   New news recently came about that the proposed waterfront streetcar between Brooklyn and Queens may be in trouble.  One source of trouble is the funding and the second may be the opposition form neighborhood residents and groups.  This may have been predicted.  One trouble source may be the cost of relocating utilities along the many mile right of way.  Why utilities should be relocated if new streetcar tracks do not need to have a base very deep into he ground is a question that I have.  This point killed the proposed 42nd Street Light Rail Line around 1994?   Other bad news, or lack of news, is that of the proposed trolleybus systems for Spokane, Washington and Montreal Quebec.    I think these proposals are dead because the away from the wire technology using batteries and capacitors is really advancing. Who needs wires anymore?  So systems buy battery buses.  The proposed trolley bus system for Leeds in England died about a year ago as well.

For establishing a new streetcar system or line for an area that is hostile towards electric transit or did not have it for many years, I would:

  1. Start with a very small line.
  2. The line should be a very strong feeder to a subway line where no other transportation is available except feed in bus lines.
  3. Development of real estate should not be a factor.  They can be used in built up areas.
  4. The new line should be marketed for efficiency in terms of moving people at a low cost, lower than that of diesel or battery buses.
  5. The new line should be somewhat grade separated from other traffic.
  6. The new line should not be expensive and have  not have all the bells and whistles.  A simple on surface stations should be available will a small canopy.
  7. If possible, used equipment should be used to emphasize low cost and efficiency,  New equipment can come later.
  8. The line should not block the view ( wires ) of  people who are hostile towards any type of wires.
  9. Modern streetcars are much more comfortable than any type of bus.  Conversion of diesel bus lines to streetcar should be put forth on the basis of efficiency, environment and passenger comfort.
  10. If possible, a streetcar line should feed seamlessly into existing heavy rail, such as found in Toronto.  Streetcars at some terminals dive underground and meet heavy rail at platform level for easy transfer between modes.  This can be very expensive for cities like New York.  A candidate would be the Essex Delancey former trolley terminal in the Lower East Side.  Do not use this hidden facility as a park but make it into a trolley terminal for streetcars going over the bridge.  This will help out when the "L' train tubes close down for repairs.
  11. Candidates may be: Streetcars at Pelham Bay Park station (6)  to Co-op City.
  12. End of Queens rapid transit lines:  179th Street Jamaica, Parsons-Archer.
  13. Staten Island routes and former North Shore Line.
  14. Central Bronx:  Former right of way of the Third Avenue El.
  15. Brooklyn:  Pennsylvania Avenue, Nostrand Avenue at Brooklyn College
  16. Lower East Side Manhattan access via a far east avenue to Union Square or 14th Street.

A Comment:
    Earth Day has been around for almost 50 years.  This year we celebrate it on April 22, 2017.
Of course, the City of New York, the various mayors that we had during this time and the Transit Authority are pro environment.  How come rarely or perhaps never, modern streetcars and trolleybuses were proposed as an efficient way to deal with the environment?  There are hundreds of bus lines in New York City; certainly at least one of them meets the criteria from an objective engineering viewpoint to be a good candidate for conversion into trolleybus or streetcar, not because of development but because of efficiency and comfort.

Tramway Null(0)

Friday, March 17, 2017

Look at This:

From Southern Brooklyn Scrap Book

This great photo was taken in 1941.  It shows that the incline to the IND subway to Church Avenue was in place and some of the steel structure was in place, but no steel structure was connected to the BMT Culver Line.  Pictures around 1954 shows that the northbound local IND track was connected to the BMT Culver structure south of Ditmas Avenue, near the signal and workmen shown above.  Notice the trolley line poles to the right on McDonald Avenue.  They were there since the Culver Line was electrified on the surface.  The BMT structure dates from 1919 so the poles were out of service from 1919 to at least 1941.  More to tell you later.

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

From Southern Brooklyn Scrapbook

 The same location, years later, but the bus is headed to New Utrecht Avenue.

Hi Folks:

  I found by accident a great blog called "Southern Brooklyn  Scrapbook" while its' main focus is not rapid transit, it has a lot of interesting pictures that I did not see before.  Right above is a B-23 Cortelyou Road trolleybus just about to pass under the Culver El.  I believe it is dated 1941.  This style of trolleybus was replaced by newer ones in 1948.  Under the Culver El is the South Brooklyn RR tracks as well.  Notice the wooden protect boards above.  38th Street Park is in the background.  The trolleybus is headed towards Flatbush Avenue

Friday, February 3, 2017

Was this Taken at Avenue "N"?

ref name=NYPL>{{cite web | url= | title= (still image) View from the N Street station, (1954) }} |author=Digital Collections, The New York Public Library |accessdate=February 3, 2017 |publisher=The New York Public Library, Astor, Lennox, and Tilden Foundation}}</ref>

This photo was taken by Max Hubacher in 1954 and was obtained from the source above.  I do not believe that this is the view from the Avenue "N" station because you will see some interesting items.  Incidentally, you are seeing a southbound BMT Culver Line train composed of BMT Standard cars,  I think the B Types with roof vents.  The "S & M Plumbing & Heating Supplies" I believe is right at the private right of way of the Bay Ridge Division LIRR.  At that time, this branch operated with overhead high voltage wires and you can see the silver painted high tension wire support to the left of the train.  I believe part of that support may exist today and you can see it while looking out the west side of a southbound "F" train.  I believe that behind the train you can see the double platform 18th Avenue station.  The high wire support raised the high tension wires above the level of the Culver Line.  Notice the small yard to the left.  I believe that I may have seen a map years ago showing this.  This site today is occupied by "Amazing Savings" and other big stores near the Avenue "I" station.  The building dealing with plumbing supplies I believe still exists and has been refurnished.  The only electric transportation in this area is only the present day "F" train.  The LIRR pulled the plug on overhead power at this location many decades ago and the wires for the South Brooklyn Railroad and McDonald Avenue Trolley were gone by 1965. The tracks under the el lingered for a few more decades but were removed within the last twenty years because they were said to be hazard to motorists.
The map below comes from a great South Brooklyn RR site and shows the Parkville interchange.
ca. 1920 - ca. 1959 
R. Emery map
courtesy of S. Lynch
(modified by author and reoriented for north)

added 11 Dec 2009

Is that the freight house in the left bottom corner?

Thanks so much for the map below from the link below!

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Eastbound Church Avenue PCC car at 39th Street and 13th Avenue Brooklyn

Hi Folks:
  The photo below comes from the source below, namely the New York Public Library Digital Collection and it is a
 1952 Hubacher personal photograph.

This east bound  PCC car bond for Bristol Street is about to swing left unto 13th Avenue.  Across

 39th Street to the left is the City of New York Retail Market built in the 1930's.
  I was inside that building when there was a harbor disaster in December, 1956 (Luchenbach Explosion)
.Notice the buildings to the rear of the streetcar.  This may have been a commercial laundry and when the explosion
 hit in 1956, many of these windows broke and glass fell to the street.   I am not sure if anyone was hurt.
 The corner store to the right of the photo was a fresh fruit and vegetable store.
  You would be surprised how fast, before the age of hand held calculators, the salespersons, using a thick black
 crayon were able to calculate the price for each customer
with multi bags of vegetables in a few seconds.

Brooklyn, N.Y. [13th Avenue and 39th Street]

Hubacher, Max Henry, 1900-1989 (Photographer)
Date Created: 1952
Date Issued: 1970-09
Place: Brooklyn, N.Y.
Irma and Paul Milstein Division of United States History, Local History and Genealogy
Shelf locator: AZ 13-3600
Brooklyn (New York, N.Y.)
Trolley cars
Local transit
Date: Photo enlargement made Sept. 1970
Still image
MSS Unit ID: 22378
NYPL catalog ID (B-number): b19892408
Universal Unique Identifier (UUID): 9254c880-864d-0133-be8b-00505686a51c
Photo by: Max H. Hubacher
The New York Public Library holds or manages the copyright(s) in this item. If you need information about reusing this item, please go to:



Monday, January 30, 2017

BRT Shops and the Four Sister Map Mystery

  According to some of my older postings, the area around Old New Utrecht Road, 37th Streets an 13th Avenue in Brooklyn is rich in Brooklyn and transit history.  At this area, where the Culver Line ran on the surface and the Church Avenue trolley passed through, a Nassau Electric streetcar shop once existed.  In the map below, I believe from 1884 shows the general area.  To the right, you see where Church Avenue (Lane) begins and I posted a picture from there a few days ago. It seems that an early Brooklyn Rapid Transit Shop was located at the 37th Street and 13th Avenue intersection.  The former "Lumber Yard" which was a Nassau - Electric shop appears to not have been built yet in 1884 at 36th Street and Old New Utrecht Road.   Incidentally, this area is at the intersection of two great Brooklyn Street grids:  Namely the Flatbush east street grid and the Brooklyn grid with numbered avenues and streets with no prefixes.  Notice the streets that end at 36th Street, namely Story Street, Louisa Street, Clara Street, Tehema Street and Minna Street.  These streets form a triangle between the two great street systems near Greenwood Cemetery. See map below.  Who are these persons?   Story was probably a land owner and he named the four streets after development after his daughters.


The Culver Line runs at the bottom edge of this map, right above this line.

  It just so happens that several months ago, I looked at a downtown San Francisco map and I observed that three of sisters are present  as named streets.  The streets are not adjacent or major streets, but narrow streets like in Brooklyn:  These streets are east from Market:  Minna, Tehema and Clara Street, in the same order as in Brooklyn, but Louisa Street is missing.  Was Story connected with San Francisco?

Brooklyn V. 11, Plate No. 119 [Map bounded by 36th St., 14th Ave., 41st St., 13th Ave.]

Sanborn Map Company (Publisher)
Date Issued: 1884-
Place: New York
Publisher: Sanborn Map Company
Lionel Pincus and Princess Firyal Map Division
Shelf locator: Map Div. (Sanborn Map Co. Insurance maps of N.Y.)
Fire insurance -- New York (State)
Real property -- New York (State)
Cities & towns -- New York (State)
Content: Fire insurance plans of cities and towns in New York State.
Still image
NYPL catalog ID (B-number): b10860230
Universal Unique Identifier (UUID): bd23ead0-c5fe-012f-e89c-58d385a7bc34
We believe that this item has no known US copyright restrictions. The item may be subject to rights of privacy, rights of publicity and other restrictions. Though not required, if you want to credit us as the source, please use the following statement, "From The New York Public Library." Doing so helps us track how our collection is used and helps justify freely releasing even more content in the future.



Thursday, January 26, 2017

Great Photo from 1954.

Modified Feb. 6, 2017.  Please see the map below from the NY Digital Collection of the NYPL.

The map shows 37th Street, 36 Street (Martense Lane) and Church Lane (church Avenue).  The map shows that the Lumberyard above was attached to the Church Avenue Line tracks from the west side of the building.  Please see  the red triangle on the map below.  This map also shows that the Nassau Electric yard was not established at this time but the lumberyard may have been the depot.  Notice that the SBRR and Culver Line tracks were not attached to the lumber yard.

From the NY Public Library Digital Collection.  This is 1954 photo of Max Hubacher and is part of the NY Public Library collection.  It is a personal photograph. In it, we see a west bound Church Avenue PCC streetcar just about to make a right turn unto 37th Street in Brooklyn.  The car is located at what could be called the beginning of Church Avenue at Old New Utrecht Road which is a historic street which no longer exists in its full glory.  We see the north bound windscreen of the the then BMT Culver Line and the lumber yard on the left was the site of an early Nassau Electric trolley yard.  About everything in the above photo is mainly now gone.

Friday, January 20, 2017

Gravesend Brooklyn 1890 Map Showing Brooklyn Jockey Club

Plate23: [Bounded by Avenue P, Ocean Avenue, Avenue U, W. 6th Street, Avenue R, W. 8th Street, Avenue P and W. 11th Street.]

Additional title: Part of the Town of Gravesend, Kings Co., N.Y.
Robinson, E. (Elisha) (Cartographer)
E. Robinson Co. (Publisher)
Mueller, A. H. (August H.) (Engraver)
F. Bourquin & Co. (Printer)
Date Issued: 1890
Place: New York
Publisher: E. Robinson Co.

 Hi Folks:  Look at the left of the picture just below.  Do you see the branch from the Sea Beach RR to the Brooklyn Jockey Club on Gravesend Avenue.  The Sea Beach line is about an inch from the left upper margin at Kings Highway.    What a cool map from the NY Public Library.

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Brooklyn Jockey Club as seen on a 1905 Map

      On resource that I did not look at in a long time is the New York Public Library Digital Collection.  This vast resource has many maps and the above section comes from a Brooklyn Eagle newspaper map drawn in 1905 dealing with transportation improvements for Brooklyn.  Notice the two race tracks and also note that the Jockey Club's southern boarder is Johnson's Lane, a street that does not exist today.  The red lines shown are surface railroads including streetcars.  In 1905, for this portion of the Brooklyn, the former steam railways ran on the surface  This was the case for the Culver Line prior to 1919.       Notice the Brighton Line branch to the Coney  Island Jockey Club at  Avenue X near Ocean Avenue.                                                                                                                                                                    

Thursday, January 5, 2017

Elevation Near the New Second Avenue Subway

  In the map below, I brought in an old typographical map and some elevation contour lines for the east side of Manhattan.  I was able to bring in the Lexington Avenue subway map but unfortunately, I was not able to locate a new shapefile dealing with the the Second Avenue Line that opened a few days ago.  Second Avenue is two blocks east of the Lexington Avenue Line (shown in green).  Notice the change of elevation along Second Avenue in Manhattan.  At particular locations, the Second Avenue El had to be built higher to avoid all these dips.  When I locate a new subway shapefile, I'll add it.   The old typographical map is interesting.

Sunday, January 1, 2017

Second Avenue Subway Opened 12 minutes Ago

 As type this, at 12:12 pm New York time, the Second Avenue subway probably went into revenue service twelve minutes ago.  I am at home but I could not go to the opening.  In an interesting subchat posting "BMT Invades the Upper East Side", there is much truth in that statement.  The new Second Avenue subway is an extension of the Broadway - 7th Avenue BMT subway as far as present service is concerned because the Q train runs along the BMT lines from Coney Island to 57th Street and 7th Avenue.  In early subway history, and I will not quote references which I do not have presently but some may have been posted here years ago, the future plans for subway extensions was very different at the beginning of the 20th Century.  At the earlier stages, the IRT subway the opened in 1904 and extended to Brooklyn in 1908 may have be planned to go to Bay Ridge via Fourth Avenue.  The lower level at Atlantic Avenue was built with a track perhaps pointing to the Manhattan Bridge.  Who knows, if these plans may have been carried out, our traditional BMT lines, including the Culver, Sea Beach, West End and Fourth Avenue lines may have been part of the IRT network with branches to the upper Bronx!  In Manhattan, in planning service to upper Manhattan and perhaps the Bronx, the BMT subway at 57th Street was supposed to be extended to upper Manhattan as the BMT subway.  Everything above 59th Street in Manhattan could be considered as IND or IRT territory and now this changes.  Other changes of stripes occurred in Brooklyn.  The traditional BMT Culver subway line from Ditmas Avenue south became the IND D train in 1954.  The BMT City Line Elevated Line east of Grant Avenue became the IND Fulton Street Line in 1956.  The Dyer Avenue IRT line was originally part of a Westchester based private railroad.  In the late 1960's according to the Regional Plan, if the Second Avenue was extended to the Bronx, it would have "captured" the IRT Pelham Bay Park Line.  That line would have been modified to Dual Contract standards including provisions to use BMT-IND wider equipment.

Let us wish the Second Avenue Subway success and that the users will have many benefits from it.  It is really a "stubway" but something is better than nothing.  I guess that "Hell really froze over" today at 12 noon.

According to subchat, as of today, January 2, 2017, the new Second Avenue subway is beginning to experience "congestion" in turning trains around at the 96th Street station.  If appears that the turn around time involving signals and crossovers in greater than the regular schedule of trains.  It was suggested that since the tunnel goes north to 99th Street, there should have been a crossover north of the station as well.  Let us see what happens Tuesday morning which is a regular work day.  It was also suggested by some that the users of the new subway will not be Lexington Avenue Line users in the area but unhappy bus riders who need to get to their destination fast.  Do not forget that a GM fishbowl will solve all our transit woes.  Just joking.  Let us  see what happens regarding congestion; perhaps the signals and schedules need to be modified