"In the field" railroad history adventures...

Sunday, July 24, 2016

Train Ride at the Danbury Railroad Museum

I returned to Danbury Railroad Museum today to donate a bunch of computer-related stuff that hopefully they can use for video presentations and interactive kiosks. At some point I will be assisting in these presentations.

Train Ride

It was very hot late afternoon but I took the short train ride they offered thru the yard and saw the turntable and pump house. The Pump in the pump house has been nicely restored.

All Aboard!
The whistle was blowing...
The Turntable
On the other side of the turntable - there's a nice array of passenger cars
The train stopped on the Pump House. This used to pump the water for the water tower next door (no longer there). The water tower serviced the steam engines back in the day and had spouts on two sides (unusual).
The Pump House
Our locomotive and engineer
Back at the station
Enhanced old valuation map of the railroad yard

Monday, July 11, 2016

The High Line - NYC

The High Line - New York City

On Monday July 11th, 2016, I visited the High Line in Manhattan. This trek was truly an amazing experience and is recommended to anyone who lives and/or visits the Big Apple. The revitalization of this old railroad line into an "aerial garden" is breathtaking.
At the 30th Street Entrance
Skyscraper Construction permeated the surroundings 
A perfect day for enjoying the High Line: sunny with a breeze - it was beautiful!
The High Line itself is stunning's like walking in one long garden
In many spots the rails were left intact
One long section is actually raised above the original rail bed and there is a closed off walkway below - this is for the gardeners who maintain the plants.
The gardener's path is visible below
For parts of the Line you are right next to the buildings
Some industry still exists
All along the Line there are shady, secluded spots to sit and relax
A glance back
There are artwork displays scattered along the way
(this is made from discarded tires!)
The immense amount of new skyscrapers going up all around the High Line necessitates frequent scaffolding under the construction areas. A "falling object" safety precaution.
It was cool in the shade under these "tunnels"
In the heart of an urban environment yet refreshingly different! :-)
Looking back
A NYC "parking solution" off to the side
At the turn the High Line, it is nice and wide
Wishful thinking? I kept my eyes peeled but none were out today :-)
Kinda hard to tell from the photo but up ahead is a glass window and an "amphitheater" for people watching...
At the amphitheater. It faces north
I took a selfie - someone nearby made me laugh
(or was I just ecstatic being in such an amazing spot?)
In this building walk through are souvenir booths and a cafe.
All very tastefully "zoned"
The "old" NYC is still present
The "nude sunbather"
A realistic statue that had everybody gawking and smiling!
The "new" NYC loomed high all around
Oo yeah - more rails!
Remnants of the "old "NYC
This was the front edifice of a pier building no longer in existence 
Straight ahead - through the forest!
Rail crossing (a "frog")
(Scroll down this link for Frog info if interested)
This is the end of the High Line
The Whitney Museum is at the end of the High Line. It has a skyview option but I didn't check it out this trip....

Close Up of the rails

The Way Back

On the way back, I took a few more photos...
This was a spur that went right into the building - kinda cool!
Looking north - the lawn and mini amphitheater
(benches on left)
Mini Video of the spot below...

From 30th to 34th Street

Once past where I first entered, the High Line continues on a long sweeping curve to 34th Street. Much of this stretch is still being "developed"...
How cool is this? The walkway is between the rails....
Its a long sweeping curve out towards the river. The original "look and feel" of the High Line plant growth is visible on the side...
Looking west out toward the Hudson.
Penn Station rail yard
Looking north
The end of the line on 34th street

About the High Line

The High Line is a public park built on a historic freight rail line elevated above the streets on Manhattan’s West Side. It runs from Gansevoort Street in the Meatpacking District to West 34th Street, between 10th and 12th Avenue.
“A city that had once pioneered so many technological and urban planning solutions, that had dazzled the world with its public works, its skyscrapers, bridges, subways, water-delivery system, its Central Park, palatial train stations, libraries and museums, [currently] appears unable to undertake any innovative construction on a grand scale, and is now consigned to cannibalizing its past and retrofitting it to function as an image, a consumable spectacle.”- Phillip Lopate, director of the MFA nonfiction program at Columbia University.
New York City Railroads c. 1900
(By James R. Irwin - Own work)
Before the High Line was constructed, the New York Central Railroad had operated a rail freight line along Tenth Avenue at street level. Men on horseback (known as the “West Side cowboys”) had ridden ahead of the train with red flags or lanterns to warn pedestrians.  Despite this precaution, so many citizens had gotten run over that the street acquired the notorious name “Death Avenue.” For over 70 years, since the mid-19th century, public outcry had demanded a safer solution: thus, the High Line was built.
“West Side Cowboy”, 1934. [Photographer unknown]
At the time the High Line went up, the public was turning against elevated structures, such as the “El” subway trains, because their huge looming presence created shadows that darkened the adjoining streets.

On June 28, 1934, the city and railroad held a special dedication ceremony for the new elevated route and the huge new freight station: St. John’s Park Freight Terminal. The terminal covered three city blocks, could handle 14 freight elevators, and serviced 150 trucks. The entire route, all double-tracked from 30th Street to St. John’s Park, was 13 miles long and cost more than $150 million.  The New York Central also electrified the corridor but the electric was later abandoned in favor of diesel-electric locomotives.

One unique aspect of the High Line is that it was built in the middle of the block: “in between the buildings” so to speak. Massive industrial-sized buildings could absorb a rail line running right through them and could profit from proximity for quick and easy freight deliveries.
View north from West 17th Street, 1934. [Photographer unknown]
“With the completion of the West Side Improvement, of which this viaduct is one of the more important features, West Side manufacturers, distributors and merchants in general will have transportation facilities unsurpassed anywhere. …Tenants can bring in their raw materials and ship out their finished products swiftly, safely and efficiently over rails at their very doors.”  - F.E. Williamson,president of New York Central, at a dedication ceremony for the West Side Viaduct
Although factories and packing houses did indeed congregate around and benefit from the line, by the 1960s, trucks and airplanes had cut significantly into the rail freight business and the rail line was operating deeply in the red. The southern part of the structure was soon dismantled and sadly the last freight delivery on the remaining northern part of the line took place in 1980.
“Much of the High Line’s present magic stems from its passing though an historic industrial cityscape roughly the same age as the viaduct, supplemented by private tenement backyards and the poetic grunge of taxi garages. It would make a huge difference if High Line walkers were to feel trapped in a canyon of spanking new high-rise condos, providing antlike visual entertainment for one’s financial betters lolling on balconies…”- Phillip Lopate, director of the MFA nonfiction program at Columbia University.

Source Material and Further Info

High Line History
Preserving the Legacy of America's Railroads

Friends of the High Line

High Line - New York City (Wikipedia)

West Side Line - NYCRR (Wikipedia)
^ Note: Empire Connection

Empire Corridor (Wikipedia)

Freedom Tunnel (Wikipedia)

Video: High Line History
Narrated by Ethan Hawke

Above Grade: On the High Line (Essay)
This is a great article!
A native New Yorker traces the pre-history of the High Line, and ponders whether the celebrated park will be a victim of its success.

Looking Back at The History of The High Line in NYC