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Welcome to New York City, Grand Central Terminal and the New York City Subway

We have an extensive collection of material on railroads and transit in New York City.

Much of this material is not published elsewhere on the Internet. If you are interested in Grand Central Terminal, New York City subways, or transportation around New York City, read on and enjoy!

Grand Central Terminal is one of the most significant landmarks in New York City.

It is historical, but it is vital to transportation in the city. Some of the stories we have are about the signal towers that control trains entering Grand Central, the buildings that surround Grand Central, the electric engines that go into Grand Central. We have old postcards of Grand Central and the Hotel Commodore.

New York City Subway System is massive and impressive.

Some of our articles include a look at what has gone wrong with the subways since 1940. We have a report on a panel discussion on the merits of various types of subway maps hosted by New York City's Transit Museum. Find out about the loss of rapid transit on New York's Second Avenue.

How about a story of a cab ride from Howard Beach to the new station at Queensbridge on the next-to-last day of operation of the "JFK Express"?

Plans for better transit in the metropolitan area.

An analysis of a early 1960's Ford Foundation study of commuting into Grand Central and what might be done to improve it. Some unique ideas and far ahead of its time. Developed early on in the history of aviation, JFK International, LaGuardia and Newark airports were intended to only be accessed by automobile.

Did you ever wonder who messed up the mass transit system in New York City? An in-depth look at Robert Moses and his life.

Begun in 1846, the New York Central's West Side Freight Line was the only freight railroad directly into Manhattan.

Read about the history and future of this line.

Most railroad passengers today are commuters.

Taxpayers underwrite part of this cost and the ride is now more comfortable and the future more secure than ever before. Many ideas have been brought up over the years to ease commuting problems from New Jersey. One of the most interesting was a 1935 proposal by L. Alfred Jenny which consisted of a modern electrified railroad connecting the various New Jersey railroads and bringing these lines into a new passenger terminal in mid-Manhattan.

Read more about commuters

Read the full story on the Jenny Plan and lots more on commuters

The NEW YORK CENTRAL LINES magazine contains a wealth of information on Grand Central Terminal.

This most interesting period in the history of the New York Central was well-chronicled in its in-house magazine. We have excerpts from 1919-1931.
Stories about the Red Caps, police officers, long-time employees, Chauncey Depew, and much more about Grand Central.

Grand Central was owned by the New York Central Railroad

Do you know who owns Grand Central now?
If you said Metro North Railroad, or its parent company, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, then you are wrong.
Nor is it Donald Trump, Disney or WalMart.

Click here to find who owns Grand Central now

and find out a lot of interesting facts.

In 1848, the New York, New Haven & Hartford Railroad Company was granted rights "in perpetuity" to enter New York City and Grand Central.

New York Times: The Subway Issue
A speed test occurred on January 31, 1972. An eight car train was tested on a stretch of track between Woodside and Jamaica. The R-44 set the all-time speed record for subway cars topping out at 87.75 MPH. A second run was made with two motors cut out to simulate a fully loaded train and still reached 77 MPH. Source: "New York Subways" by Mr.Gene Sansone
Here's the current subway map overlaid with eleven subway lines that were planned but never built: Cursoring over the map will bold the unbuilt lines, revealing a vision of an extensive New York transit system lost to expediencies like tightened budgets and the need to upgrade the first generation of lines. The map also shows seven stations or platforms that were built and later put out of service. That includes the South 4th Street station in Williamsburg, which was constructed as an underground concrete shell but not opened. These stations are highlighted with thick lines around them. Cursor over the abandoned stations and unbuilt lines to make a text box appear with information about each one.
By Ken Kinlock at kenkinlock@gmail.com affiliate_link

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Supply Chain Control Tower

Supply Chain Management Control Towers

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ec-bp.com The Forum for Supply Chain Integration

ec-bp was established in 2005 as the advocate for lowering the barriers to the adoption of EDI, and our email newsletter has been published every month since that time. Our focus has expanded beyond EDI to encompas the full gamut of supply chain practices and technologies. In addition, our readership has grown to become the largest of any similarly focused publication, and has expanded to include more than 90,000 professionals involved in nearly every aspect of the supply chain.

Today’s supply chain is more than simple transport of EDI documents. The complexity of maintaining compliance with trading partners, managing the ever increasing amount of data, and analyzing that data to drive constant improvement in processes and service take supply chain professionals far beyond the basics of mapping EDI documents.

Terminal City and Grand Central

Some of this came from the NY Times Real Estate Section

In 1902, William J. Wilgus, an engineer for the New York Central Railroad, came up with the concept of roofing over the yards around Grand Central and building hotels, offices and apartment houses. Among the earliest concepts were a 20-story tower over the terminal itself, and an adjacent hotel, later erected as the Biltmore, from Vanderbilt to Madison Avenue, between 43rd and 44th Streets. In 1910, The New York Times published a design for a ceremonial Park Avenue showing tall, income-producing office buildings, but also new structures for the National Academy of Design and the Metropolitan Opera, their cultured imprimatur blunting the nakedness of the railroad’s commercial quest.

In the next 20 years, Mr. Wilgus’s plan remade the dozen or so blocks north of the terminal. The Biltmore was the best known, 26 stories high but set back along Vanderbilt Avenue to give the terminal breathing room. With no stores on Madison Avenue, a main dining room 120 feet long and a terrace on Vanderbilt, it was a particularly debonair work. Inside, the Palm Court had a timepiece on a wooden screen; “under the clock at the Biltmore” became a legendary meeting place.

Vanderbilt filled up with structures like the high-rise Yale Club, at 44th and Vanderbilt, and the Roosevelt Hotel, from 45th to 46th. Along Lexington, buildings included the giant Commodore Hotel at 42nd and the streamlined Graybar Building at 44th.

But it was the width of Park Avenue that offered the canvas for a much grander design, something really worthy of the name Terminal City. There were a few commercial buildings, like the New York Central Building, with its signature tower, spanning Park at 46th; and the crisp, cool Postum Building at 250 Park from 46th to 47th.

Office construction here was premature, though — the newly developed apartment house was in demand, as the well-to-do began to abandon town houses and pare their servant rosters.

Just north of the Postum Building rose 270 Park Avenue, with 3,000 rooms and, according to the magazine Buildings and Building Management in 1920, 100 millionaires. Its arcaded central courtyard, with triumphal arches, struck a particularly civilized note.

Directly opposite rose 277 Park Avenue, a colossal 12-section apartment house organized around a central court and 432 apartments.

The Hotel Chatham went up at 280 Park, from 48th to 49th, with a delicious terra cotta frosting along the top stories. Opposite, at 299 Park, the discreet Park Lane opened in the mid-1920s, an apartment hotel whose central dining room had tapestries and a coffered ceiling. In 1924 Arts & Decoration magazine referred to these as “the new apartment buildings which now constitute the social background of New York.”

They were, it is true, enclaves of the rich and well born, with names like Aldrich, Betts, Dodge and Rutherfurd. But there were also those whose families and fortunes were newer, like the developer Charles Paterno, the actor Rudolph Valentino and Frederick T. Ley, who started work in construction at age 15 but later was the contractor for the Chrysler Building.. The development of the residential section of Terminal City continued up to 50th Street, and was matched by construction farther north.

Terminal City began to dissolve after World War II, when commerce swept the avenue almost clean of residential buildings. The construction along Lexington has survived, except for the old Commodore at 42nd Street, refaced around 1980 for a new Hyatt. But its original gritty black smokestack still juts up from its back corner.

On Vanderbilt Avenue, the Biltmore was gutted and refaced with red granite in the 1980s to create the present, hulking office tower at 335 Madison. Here the legacy of Terminal City strikes a few poignant notes. Along 44th, the sleek, modern facade is interrupted by a taxicab ramp, descending to the concourse level of the station. The connection is now walled up, and the area is only a garage, but it is still roofed with the Guastavino tile seen elsewhere in the station.
R-9 at Coney Island in New York

Here is one of my favorite places: Coney Island. No, not the amusement park; the New York City Transit Authority shops. This has got to be the largest rapid transit repair facility in the World. This place could build a new subway car in a day from spare parts. Let me know if anything is bigger, but I know it beats Washington DC; Metro North at Harmon, White Plains North, or New Haven; BART; Philadelphia/SEPTA; London Underground; "Shops" (South Shore at Michigan City); Montreal Metro; Toronto; Miami; Boston MTA; Chicago CTA; Nice, France tramway; Japan???; SNCF in France???

Grand Central Terminal Track Plans

Grand Central Terminal is the largest train station in the world by number of platforms: 44, with 67 tracks along them. They are on two levels, both below ground, with 41 tracks on the upper level and 26 on the lower, though the total number of tracks along platforms and in rail yards exceeds 100. When the Long Island Rail Road's new station, below the existing levels, opens, Grand Central will offer a total of 75 tracks and 48 platforms. The terminal covers an area of 48 acres. There are 31 tracks in revenue service on the upper level. These are numbered from 11 to 42, from the most eastern track to the most western track. Tracks 22 and 31 were removed in the late '90s to build concourses for Grand Central North, track 12 was removed to expand the platform between tracks 11 and 13, and track 14 is only used for loading a garbage train. The lower level has 26 tracks, numbered from 100 to 126, east to west, though only tracks 102-112, and 114-116 are currently used for passenger service. Grand Central Terminal Track, Signal, and Interlocking Diagrams. A great view of the Long Island Railroad access to Grand Central from Auto-free New York. More detailed explanations of Grand Central Terminal from "New York Architecture". More questions on the Long Island RR link to Grand Central..

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Just Around the Corner by Bertrande H. Snell

Bertrande H. Snell, author of the following article, a native of Parish, Oswego County, N.Y., was a telegrapher all his working life. For many years he was employed by the New York Central Railroad, and for 33 years was a telegrapher for Western Union in Syracuse.

Bertrande Snell commenced his writing career with the Syracuse Syracuse Post-Standard in 1945 and continued it until shortly before his death in 1949. His columns were primarily of a reminiscent or historical nature, which included railroad stories.

If you like his column, we have more.
Syracuse Post-Standard, Nov. 16, 1946

Just Around the Corner
By Bertrande

Traveling south from Corning, you come to Lawrenceville, Pa., which is in Tioga county. Bordering this on the south is Lycoming county, where I spent the years between 1905 and 1917.

Pine Creek, which in many places approaches the dignity of river, rises in Tioga county and flows through the Lycoming hills to empty into the mighty Susquehanna near Jersey Shore. Lycoming county yields to none in the matter of scenery. Its mountainous terrain, heavily wooded and freely interspersed with swift moving brooks - known as "runs" - make it a veritable paradise for fishermen and hunters.

I was working as railroad telegrapher at Slate Run, a few miles south of Wellsboro, when, in 1907 the last run of logs went down Pine creek to the Susquehanna and thence to the big boom at Williamsport. It was a grand sight to watch those millions of logs go bumping down the river, while the lumberjacks in the red-and-blue shirts stood in the swift water to their waists and kept the line moving with their peavies. And the way those lads could ride the logs was something to remember.

Slate Run village was just a straggle of houses and shanties along the river bank and under the mountainside. In my time there was a big lumber mill there, owned and operated by Weed & Co. of Binghamton. This enterprise took care of the logs cut by some eight or 10 camps, scattered through the uplands in a 50-mile area.

A narrow-gauge railroad penetrated the fastnesses for some 25 miles and brought the logs down to the mill. Here were 200 mill-hands, a big "company store," a church, and three - count 'em - three hotels. Each hotel boasted a big dance hall and seldom a Saturday night went by without at least one big dance - generally two.

Along about 7 p.m. of a Saturday, Ben Wolfe would get out his battered brass trumpet, walk to the end of the river bridge and cut loose with a blast that could be heard clear to Cammal, six miles down the track. then would come on the run, Lafe Tomb, the organist; Steve Tomb, fiddler, and old "Rat," the caller, closely followed by the majority of the other villagers, and away they'd hike to Ben's big barn-like hall.

In a few minutes the "doin's" would start - and if they kept it up until four in the morning, whose business was that?

All those I have mentioned above have long since crossed the big bridge, from whose other side there is no return - and:
The town an' all has gone to smash
an' th' folks are scattered far;
But there's many a ghost that walks the hills,
where the rottin' log-camps are;
An' there's many an echo, far an' faint,
that broods on the ripplin' run
An' whisper low of th' long ago
an' th' days o' foolish fun.
Ol' Steve is dead an' his fiddle
hangs neglected on the wall,
An' th' summer days have passed away
an' we mourn in th' naked fall -
But I'd like to be back in ol' Slate Run
in nineteen-eight or nine
To hear Steve play that fiddle,
fer he surely played it fine!

To our village came on occasion, Billy Larkin, cook in "Mode" Archer's camp 20 miles up the mountain side. Billy would work faithfully and ceaselessly for three or four months; then, when the spirit moved him, he'd grab is "turkey" and foot it down the slope for Slate Run, where he would spend the better part of a week imbibing the strenuous liquor of those parts. Billy would have $200 or $300 dollars in his poke on arrival - and of course, not a cent when he went back up the mountain.

Billy was never very articulate, even in his cups, but he had a certain routine which he repeated incessantly while lapping up the booze which his dollars caused to flow freely. He's been dead these many years, but i confess I'd love to hear him repeat just once more that silly rigamarole of his:

"My name is Billy Larkin - a cheap skate from Buffalo - that's me. Goodness, godness, Ignes Agnes; it's two sides up an' two sides down an; keep 'er there in the company's notch - Ow's chances for another drink?"

Our most resplendent citizen during those days was Patsy Delaney, who has become a tradition among lumberjacks and river men. He was champion longroller of the world for many years. He had traveled to London, To Stockholm and to Canada, giving exhibitions in the art of riding logs through the swift currents. He was a little man, strong, wiry and absolutely fearless, and when he grabbed his peavie and jumped for a log - any long - that bit of timber was conquered then and there. All his movements were the graceful ones of an athlete and his reaction of brain and muscle were lightning-quick.

After his barnstorming trip to Canada and Europe, he never did much actual logging - or any other kind of work for that matter. he much preferred to strut around in his "stage" clothes, both for his own enjoyment and that of spectators. He was a grand eyeful those days; with his chamois-skin trousers, his four-colored skirt made of the finest Swiss wool, and his luimberman's pea-jacket with the real-silk lining and the solid good buttons. On his feet were a pair of "short boots' made in Russia of the finest calfskin, and the inch-long caulks on their soles heavily gold plated.

Patsy prided himself that he could "cuss" in 12 languages and dialects for an hour and 30 minutes without repeating himself. And I have reason to believe that he could do even better than that.

Ballad of the Lumberjack

Oh, the lumberjack was a hard-bit man
And a hard-bit man was he,
In the days when the big pine forests ran
In their solemn majesty.
From the edge of the gorge where the Pine Creek Flows
Through dim, unmeasured tracks,
And the woods rang out with the sturdy blows
Of the double-bitted ax.
Oh, the lumberjack was a careless man,
But a mighty man was he;
And little he cared how brief his span
So that his life were free.
Oh, the lumberjack was a hard-bit man
And a hard-bit man, you see -
But hunt me out in the world, if you can,
A better man than he!

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Former New York Central Railroad Headquarters

This impressive building was the headquarters of the New York Central System.

New York City subway map

Click on map to see full size or print
Signal Station F

Signal Station "F" in Grand Central Terminal

This picture was from my grandfather

Read more about Grand Central's Signal Stations
Grand Central Control

Here's a more modern picture of how trains are controlled now.

World's Largest Office Building planned for Grand Central

The pictures below all appeared in the New York Central HEADLIGHT employee magazine and show design and building of what used to be called the Pan Am building. Pan Am went broke, got rid of the building and became a railroad. It is now the Met Life Building and sits atop the terminal. From the same era is the "new" train board.
Pan Am Building atop Grand Central Pan Am Building atop Grand Central
Pan Am Building atop Grand Central Pan Am Building atop Grand Central
Pan Am Building atop Grand Central Pan Am Building atop Grand Central
Pan Am Building atop Grand Central
NY Central  20 Century Limited along the Hudson New York Central

20th Century Limited along the Hudson

This was probably the all-time most famous train

Bruce Wolfe collection, courtesy of Bernie Rudberg

In 1947 a trio of EMD E units are powering the 20th Century Limited southbound along the banks of the Hudson River. This train had just thundered through Beacon and was heading for the engine change at Harmon. Since these diesel engines were not welcome under the streets of Manhattan, an electric engine would pull the limited the rest of the way into Grand Central Terminal.
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Antibes was a Greek fortified town named Antipolis in the 5th century BC, and later a Roman town, and always an active port for trading along the Mediterranean. Today it's an attractive and active town, popular with "foreigners" from Paris and the north of France, with non-French, and with the local population.
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Thanks to a beneficial subtropical microclimate (316 cloudless days a year), winter is practically unknown in Menton. Therefore, you can enjoy a beautiful sea and the nearby sunny mountains all year round. Menton is on the borders of Italy, the Principality of Monaco and the Comté de Nice.
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Penn Central New Haven Railroad New York Central Railroad Interested in Penn Central? New York Central? Pennsylvania Railroad? New Haven Railroad? or in the smaller Eastern US railroads? Then you will be interested in "What if the Penn Central Merger Did Not Happen". You will also enjoy "Could George Alpert have saved the New Haven?" as well as "What if the New Haven never merged with Penn Central?"

The Loss of Rapid Transit on New York's Second Avenue

The First Avenue Association letterhead from 1940 listed the group's Directors. Of the thirty-two directors, a few were simply elite professionals -- lawyers, judges, business managers -- with no obvious vested interest in the demolition of the el. Twelve of the directors, however, clearly held high positions at real estate firms. Seven others held positions at private firms, whose business was not listed, that may also have been involved in real estate. One director, an architect, also would be involved in real estate development. Two directors were bankers, and three, treasurers of major institutions -- representing, therefore, large investors.

Realtors, investors, and architects all would profit from the property development that would accompany the transformation of Second Avenue into a higher-class neighborhood. One director, the Chairman of the Board of Bloomingdales, also would benefit from the gentrification of the neighborhood near his expensive East Side department store. The director with the most vested interest in the el demolition, however, was the Secretary-Treasurer of the East Side Omnibus Corp. With the el demolished, and no subway along the route to replace it, many passengers would rely on buses along Second Avenue for transportation -- buses that the East Side Omnibus Corp. could operate. There is no other indication that the First Avenue Association was party to an anti-rail transit conspiracy, however. The vast majority of the association's directors were involved in real estate. They simply hoped to increase in property values along the corridor.

The First Avenue Association agreed that the el was a traffic obstruction. The association did not believe that the el should be replaced with a subway, and then torn down.

Rather, it argued that the el should be torn down immediately, to improve automobile access. The real aim of the association was not to improve accessibility to Second Avenue, but to reduce traffic on First Avenue.

For more information on the loss of rapid transit on New York's Second Avenue
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Grand Central Terminal

Grand Central Terminal

See more historic photographs of Grand Central Terminal, New York's subway system, marine rail operations in New York Harbor and the New Haven Railroad.

Hotel Commodore

Hotel Commodore

Part of Grand Central Complex
New York City
Now Grand Hyatt Hotel
From postcard found in
St. Joseph, Michigan
Was one of several hotels
owned by the
New York Central
Grand Central Postcard

Grand Central Terminal from my postcard collection.

Grand Central Pictures Grand Central Pictures Grand Central Pictures Grand Central Pictures
Grand Central Pictures

Above: Some middle of the night pictures of Grand Central Terminal. Courtesy of Wayne Koch.

Left: End of the track at Grand Central
This is where the ride into Grand Central ends and where the ride out of Grand Central begins.

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George Alpert. Last President of the New Haven Railroad. Talking with Albert Einstein at Brandeis University
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In a surprise move, Nice Mayor Christian Estrosi changed his mind about running Line 2 up the Promenade des Anglais and instead went with a plan that provides an 8.6 kilometer "tram/metro" with 3.6 kilometers below ground. It will cost €'450,000,000 and carry 110,000 - 140,000 daily passengers. It will run between Gare de Riquier and new? Gare Multimodal Saint-Augustin.
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Fifty-three years after the closure of the Tramway de Nice et du Littoral, the Tramway de Nice began to serve its Northern and Eastern sections. 2007 saw the completion of Line 1 serving the North-South needs of the city. Line 2 now addresses the East-West needs. This WebSite will be updated continuously until completion of Line 2 in Year 2017.
Grand Central phone operators Grand Central Terminal

At left is the New York Central main telephone switchboard from the NY Central employee's magazine. At top is another of our postcards of Grand Central. Still had trolley's then!

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