Tag Archives: Subway

Old New York in Photos #32

1915 Subway Explosion Kills Seven, Injures Scores: 7th Avenue Between 24th and 25th Streets

This photograph taken on September 24, 1915 looking east across Seventh Avenue between 25th and 24th Streets shows the extent of a tragedy that took the lives of seven people and injured more than 100.

At about 7:50 a.m. on September 22, 1915 during the subway excavation for a new line, an explosion followed by a massive street collapse threw 7th Avenue into a scene of pandemonium and carnage.  A blast of dynamite caused the temporary roadway of wood planking to give way. A trolley loaded with passengers plunged 30 feet into the abyss created by the cave in. A beer truck minus the driver also fell into the excavation.

The reason more people were not killed was because the street undulated for a few seconds before collapsing which allowed precious time for people on the street to scatter to safety.

The motorman of the northbound trolley, John Mayne said, “The car sank just where I stopped it. I had no stop at Twenty-fourth street and there was no warning there. When I was half way to Twenty-fifth street I saw a flagman and set my brakes. As I set the brakes I felt the earth going from under me. The next thing I knew I was being pulled out of hell.”

Fanny Borie, 18,  of Brooklyn was on the trolley, on her way to work when it went down into the hole. “When the car started to sink there were terrible screams, and I think I fainted,” she said. “I remember feeling people tugging at my feet, as I was buried under some timbers. Then I lost consciousness and came to again when I was being carried up a ladder to the street.” Continue reading

Old New York In Photos #23

Subway Excavation, Broadway and 49th Street – 1901

While the MTA is currently striving to build the new Second Avenue subway without disturbing businesses along the route, the Interborough Rapid Transit Company (IRT) had no such compunction about hampering businesses as demonstrated by this photograph taken on November 26, 1901.

We are looking north along Broadway towards 49th Street. The J.B. Brewster Carriage showroom is on the left at 1581 Broadway. The “cut and cover method” of subway building is shown here in full swing. More than half the street is blocked off to dig the necessary trench.

This method of building, which disturbed all the utilities, businesses, and residents along the route, was not only cost effective, but fast.

Ground Breaking Ceremony Brochure 1900

It took less than four and a half years for the original subway line, nine miles in length, to be completed. Ground breaking for the subway occurred March 24, 1900 and the first section from City Hall to 145th Street was opened to the public on October 26, 1904.  According to the book Interborough Rapid Transit The New York Subway Its Construction and Equipment (McGraw Publishing; 1904) the amount paid by the city for the construction was $35,000,000 and an additional sum was given not to exceed $2,750,000 for terminals, station sites, and other purposes.

It was an amazing accomplishment considering what New Yorker’s are currently putting up with just to build a two mile section of a new subway on Second Avenue.

First New York Subway Map 1904

Old New York in Photos #22

Times Square And The New York Times Tower Building 1908

Times Square featuring The Times Tower 1908 – click to vastly enlarge (six megabytes!)

Times Square is burgeoning with activity in 1908 and there is so much to see in this picture.

This photograph of Times Square was part of The Detroit Publishing Company collection, now housed at The Library of Congress. The company made picture postcards from these original photographs at the turn of the century.

The area formerly known as Longacre Square became Times Square after the New York Times opened their iconic flagship office building in 1905 at what would become known as “the crossroads of the world,” the southern end of Times Square, the triangular intersection of 42nd and 43rd streets where Broadway and Seventh Avenue diverge.

Flatiron Building in 1903

The Times Tower Building design is reminiscent of the Fuller Building, which became popularly known as the “Flatiron Building” soon after it opened in 1902 between 22nd and 23rd Streets where Broadway and Fifth Avenue intersect. The two buildings don’t look alike at all. But because they were each built on irregular plots of land, the triangular buildings both resemble flatirons.

The original Times Tower Building was a Gothic structure of beautiful light limestone and featured intricate terra-cotta and granite on the facade. More about the building later in the article. Continue reading

The Forgotten Brooklyn Elevated Train Crash Of 1923

June 25, 1923 Intersection of Atlantic and Flatbush Avenues

Photo © Osmund Leviness

“Those who died were fortunate it seemed to me when I looked inside the cars. As long as I live I can never forget it. All the people were in a mass there, struggling and screaming, with blood running over them. They all seemed to be bleeding or stained with blood. One woman’s head was terribly cut on top, and one jaw seemed to be crushed in. The hand of another woman was almost cut off. One woman I took out through a window died a few minutes after I carried her into the post office. I can’t forget the inside of those cars. They looked like my idea of purgatory.” –  Traffic Officer Joseph J. Ryan who was on the scene immediately after the crash.

This incredible accident happened 89 years ago, Monday, June 25, 1923  as two cars of the BMT derailed and plunged 35 feet into the street at the intersection of Atlantic and Flatbush Avenues in Brooklyn. Continue reading

The New York Times Obituaries Occasionally Celebrates Low-Lifes, Yet Ignores Deserving Artists and Notables

Who Gets A New York Times Obituary Write-up?

What do legendary blues and heavy metal guitarist, Gary Moore, rock album photographer Jim McCrary and playwright, screenwriter, author and jazz champion Max Wilk all have in common?

When they died, the New York Times did not cover their deaths in the obituary column. We all know space is limited, but these people were significant in their artistic fields, enriching the lives of countless others.  It would be nice had the self-proclaimed “newspaper of record” recorded and noted their amazing lives. But The Times editors felt these people were not deserving.

The official policy about who the The Times decides to write up is :

When we look to see whether someone had made a newsworthy impact in some way — who “made a wrinkle in the social fabric,” — we don’t equate significance with fame. In point of fact, 9 out of 10 people we write about are indeed not household names (the 10th is — a movie star, a secretary of state). But that doesn’t negate their importance. Most made their marks in quiet ways, out of the public limelight, but they still made a mark, possibly on your life and mine.

So who is deserving?

Apparently an unremarkable low-life, graffiti tagger, StayHigh 149, a.k.a. Wayne Roberts , can get a full write-up.

Yes, Roberts definitely, as the Times puts it, “made a mark on your life and mine.”

More like a blemish.

Especially in New York City in the 1970’s when the city was bombarded with the eyesore of graffiti defacing public and private property.

As is noted in the obituary, this great man (sarcasm) in the 1960’s was working as a messenger on Wall Street and smoking about an ounce of marijuana a week, earning the Stay High nickname.

Inspired by other vandals tagging subway cars, he then began defacing public property.

Chris Pape a fellow graffiti  aficionado says in the Times obituary:

“He (Roberts) rode empty trains all day with markers in his pocket, and he wrote everywhere.” By the early ’80s, Pape said, drugs had begun to take their toll. Roberts left his World Trade Center job, and his wife, because of his drug use. “He was a functional junkie who occasionally did time in prison for stupid things,” Pape said. “He was like that for 20 years. He didn’t want to be found.”

For some reason, I can only think of the millions of wasted dollars that it cost taxpayers to eradicate the vandalism this cretin created.  As I have said before – graffiti is definitely not art.

This is the sort of person The New York Times chooses to cover in their obituaries?

For the record, when one of the most influential singers in heavy metal history, Ronnie James Dio, died on May 16, 2010, the following day The Times devoted 493 words to summing up his life.

Graffiti vandal Wayne Roberts had 838 words written about him.

Subway Song

“I Saw It in The BRT”

An ode to the subway.

This 1917 ditty was written about the BRT (Brooklyn Rapid Transit System), which was the former name to the BMT (Brooklyn Manhattan Transit System).  The words which extoll the virtues of the advertising you would see on the train were written by Charles H. Willich and the music by George A. Sumner.

It is amazing how many products mentioned in the song are still around from almost 100 years ago: Grape Nuts, Wrigley’s Gum, Cracker Jacks, Aunt Jemima Pancake Mix and many others.

New Yorker’s have no more BRT, BMT, IND (Independent) or IRT (Interboro Rapid Transit). Now we just call it the subway, run by the oligarchal fiefdom called the MTA (Metropolitan Transit Authority).  And most of the ads you see are for acne treatments, learning English, and filing lawsuits.

Lyrics can be read here (click to enlarge):

   

 

MTA Propaganda

Open For Business  ** Shop 2nd Ave ** It’s Worth It!

A cryptic poster on a city bus that says absolutely nothing. Typical of the MTA.

The punishment for the person who wrote this slogan should be to live in an apartment adjacent to the constant construction.

Below is the text of this MTA sign pictured above that “encourages” shoppers.

The many interesting shops, restaurants and services on Second Avenue are open while MTA Capital Construction builds the Second Avenue Subway. Shop Second Avenue. It’s Worth It!

Visit mta.info and click on the Capital Construction link for more about your local shops, restaurants and services.

The Manhattan Chamber of Commerce is a partner with MTA Capital Construction in support of local establishments as construction continues on the Second Avenue Subway.

This is going to convince anyone to shop in the construction zone?

Lame signs do not get people to shop in an area that is having many of its businesses being decimated by the constant construction for the Second Avenue Subway project. The poor business owners and residents along the construction route have suffered since 2007 and many stores have gone under in the intervening four-plus years.

Solutions, Not Signs

More people might patronize the establishments on Second Avenue if the MTA didn’t in a prima facie way, block access to the stores along the construction path. One side of certain streets appear to be inaccessible. Maybe the MTA could cut down on the hours that allowed filth and noise to be generated. Or just make a conscious effort to make the streets more inviting by not chopping the sidewalks to half their normal width and blocking re-routing crosswalks, making it difficult for pedestrians to stroll.

Plus the area is just plain ugly. It seems little or no thought was given into making the avenue look more appealing.  The fences, walls and temporary banners give Second Avenue a very shabby appearance. In many places Second Avenue looks more like a post-war zone, not a construction zone.

Originally the MTA projected the first phase from 105th Street to 72nd Street of the Second Avenue subway would be completed in 2014.  It is of course delayed and over budget. If they don’t run out of funds it might be completed by June 2018.

One side note: the entire first phase of the original New York City subway from City Hall to 145th Street, (almost nine miles) was built in just over four years from March 27, 1900 – October 26, 1904.