The RMS Queen Mary

Starting it’s career about the same time as the Normandie, Cunard’s entry into the super liner competition had a much longer more illustrious career before ending up as a museum/hotel in Long Beach CA.  That, in spite of a rather rocky construction and some thinking  for a time that the ship would   end up being scrapped in the slip before  ever touching the water.

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The Last Day Of Hot Type At The NY Times.

Here’s a film of the last day of using linotype machines at the NY Times.

It’s interesting to see the two stage process for manufacturing the Times printing plates in 1978.  At the time the Times was probably the largest newspaper in the world.  It was also beset by the ongoing woes of NYC.  In any case, the ongoing evolution of technology has made everything in this film, including the new typeset system at the end, obsolete and long gone.

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Rethink NY? It’s Time


At least for the Commuter rail System.  All too frequently it doesn’t do what you need it to do and doesn’t go where you want to go.  This is especially true for making connections at airports.  It’s time for a rethink.

New York City’s commuter rail system is a hodge podge of leftovers from legacy systems built back in the early 20th Century.  The commuter rail that we have now is a product of evolution rather than any attempt at a coherent plan.  That is not unusual, as most of the large cities in the world tha

It’s time for a reassesment. This plan is actually Pretty good, especially the thinking about Penn Station’s throughput.

The main stations in Tokyo handle similar loads and they also avoid having trains cross over because of the bottleneck issues. Operating the tunnels in single directions makes sense.  One initial problem is that once the Gateway tunnels are complete, the north river tunnels will have to be shutdown for long term maintenance, that is if they can be reopened at all.

The addition of a new station at Port Morris would have many advantages. Not least of which would be a boon development in the South Bronx. It would also allow transit access to LaGuardia, something that’s been badly needed. Especially if there is express service to Penn and Newark.



One advantage of this plan is that it takes advantage of some existing rights of way, not being currently being utilized and developments that are already under way. A Port Morris station utilizes the old New Haven Oak Point yard and perhaps sections of the Old Harlem River yard. It’s one of the few place in NYC that’s available for real growth.  Adding the Airtrain access to LGA and I imagine that that area could have real potential.

I’m not sure that Amtrak is ready to give up Sunnyside, but there’s no real reason for it too.  The whole yard could be slowly air righted, which would help cover the costs. I look at some of the things that JR EAST is doing at Shinagawa Station in Tokyo and I don’t see any real reason other than cost to not pursue the same things here.

NYC’s Commuter rail has just clunked along for 100 years with service declines being more common than service increases.  Yet for the last 30 years or so demand has actually increased, stressing the system to almost the breaking point.  The East Side Access Project will add some capacity and flexibility, but I’m not sure that it will be enough. I’ve posted about the East Side Access project before, here.



The fact is that the bottlenecks through the city don’t start a Penn, but at Harold interlocking, where three different railroads all terminate and cross over each other.  Harold is the most complicated interlocking on the corridor and it’s been a bottleneck for almost 100 years. The problem is that Harold was designed in 1910 or so for entirely different operation expectations. Here’s an “as Built schematic for Harold.


Note that this was before the addition of the Connecting Railroad and the New Haven connection and long before anybody considered running ALL corridor trains through Harold. Harold simply requires too many crossing trains and traffic bottlenecks. Which back up, right into Penn. Here’s a bunch of picture overlooking Harold and Sunnyside Yard.

With the changes that East Side Access are bringing there is an opportunity to address the long term Harold problems and as this plan points out, provide significant service improvements that are going to be badly needed. The plan also looks like it takes what is already happening and provides reasonable alternatives that will, in the end save  bunch of time for a lot of people. Which is what transit is all about.



The Rooftops Of NYC

There’s an amazing variety of stuff up there.

First a piece from the Gothamist.


The temptation to put a small cottage or other structure on the roof can be overwhelming.





NYC Rooftops


They even have bars up top.

Rooftop Roundup


Here’s an album of NYC rooftops.


Why Can’t New Yorkers Have A Nice City?

When I was very little, you never saw graffiti. Up to the time I was about eleven or so, it wasn’t a big deal.  But around 1972 or so you couldn’t avoid it.  From the time that I started going to baseball games on a regular basis until the 1980’s and the MTA painting all the trains in a paint that allowed paint to be washed off and finally replacing the entire fleet of subway cars with stainless steel cars, you couldn’t ride a train that wasn’t covered in the stuff.

Tagging was old back in the 1970’s.  Trust me, it got old real fast. The problems started when the Liberals wanted to “understand” criminal and antisocial behaviors rather than stating that they not something that was going to be tolerated.  So vandalism was redefined as art and assumed to be victimless.  Of course the liberals in charge never had to clean up the crap off their walls or ride the trains covered in the stuff.

Of course this was also the time of light policing, and such great movies as the “The Warriors” and “Death Wish.”  The Libs at the top may have wanted to pal with the gangsters, but most of us cheered when Bronson shot them dead. I still get a little nervous walking through streets after dark and I’ve never had any trouble.


Like so many bad ideas, spray painting walls and trains became yet another part of the Liberal’s radical chic. Of course what it did to city life wasn’t something that the Liberals in charge at city hall paid much attention to until the problem became overwhelming. The videos below sort of capture the feel of what riding the trains was like.

The fact is that the TA invested great resources to attempt to make the trains look like something other the pit of despair and chaos.  To a large extent they failed because the people on top didn’t support the TA.  To say nothing of the problem that when all the graffiti was a problem the TA was struggling to just keep the trains running at all.



The need to deal with the tagging happened at the worst possible time.  At a time when everything seemed to be going wrong, the tagged trains sort of emphasized that yes, indeed the city was going to hell.

Where people still tag stuff , it still looks like everything’s going to hell.  Fortunately after going through about a thousand picture or so this is what I found. And most are of Five Points which doesn’t count.

Or maybe it did, because the paint and then the building are gone.


Demolition Begins At 5Pointz Graffiti Mecca In Long Island City, Queens

Apparently the “artists” never realized that paint on somebody else’s wall is never permanent.  The owners apparently never realized that having a building covered in graffiti doesn’t make it easier to rent.  So the city loses another factory to vanilla development.

Hopefully everybody will learn from the experience.  I’m not holding my breath.


What’s amazing to me is that anybody would want to bring those days back.  NYC is a now a nice city.  At least in Manhattan.  I went through  all those pictures that I’ve taken in NYC looking for graffiti and surprisingly found almost none.  But I suspect that that’s because 1. I spend most of my time in Manhattan doing things like shopping, 2. I am so used to graffiti that I just gloss over it when looking for stuff to shoot and 3.  Manhattan gets cleaned up fairly quickly.

Outside of Manhattan it’s a different story.  Just every vertical surface seems to get tagged.  Almost none of it is anything that could be called art by any stretch of the imagination.  Certainly almost none of it is anything that I would want on my building or business.

Still NYC seems to be the holy grail of vandalism.  People seem to want to come from all over just to tag my city.  Here’s a hint, people. Stay home.  We don’t want your crap all over the walls even if you are “famous.” Especially stay away from the Subway.  It’s dangerous and we like nice trains.  We want to spend our money on new tunnels, stations and trains, not on cleaning up the mess that people come and leave.







As for our home grown set, here’s a clue, Art is something you paint or hang on your OWN wall, not something you spray on somebody else’s wall without their permission.  If you’re good you don’t need to “tag.”  Your stuff will do that for you. Paint on canvas, not walls.





Turns out that without graffiti, NYC is a much nicer place.