Thursday, November 18, 2010

"Ditching" the Brooklyn–Queens Expressway

So Gothamist and The Brooklyn Paper posted plans of covering the open cuts of the Brooklyn–Queens Expressway with parks, gardens, or high-tech trellises.
Image courtesy of The Brooklyn Paper

Image courtesy of The Brooklyn Paper

Image courtesy of The Brooklyn Paper

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Articulating the Need to Move Between Subway Cars

So Ben at Second Avenue Sagas posted on the MTA's ban on riders moving between subway cars.
Does the MTA’s ban on inter-car travel make sense? Five years ago, MTA Board member Barry Feinstein defended the rule. “It’s dangerous. It’s not smart, and you shouldn’t do it,” he said. The number of people who get a ticket though far outweigh the one or two a year who suffer injury while switching cars.
The reasons for moving between subway cars are legion. Take Nora Hsu's story for example.
NY Post: Chad Rachman
An officer on patrol on the platform spotted her crossing and ordered her off the train.
"I told the cop, 'Cut me some slack. I'm 32 weeks pregnant, and I'm just trying to get home,' " she recalled for The Post. "I was out of breath."
But the officer said, "It doesn't matter," and wrote the ticket.

Friday, October 15, 2010

"Third Avenue Subway" (Route #3 from 1905)

Supplementing the First Avenue Subway (Route #1) and—one would assume—eliminating the need for a 3rd Avenue Elevated, William Barclay Parsons designed a four-track subway to run under 3rd Avenue and Bowery. It's complicated set of tracks in the Bronx belie an ambition of the original transit planners; to have the city's subways operated by private railroad companies such as the New York Central Railroad and the Pennsylvania Railroad. In Midtown, there's also an interesting crosstown connection along 35th and 36th Streets.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Lifestyle Studio "Gytha" Opens on 92nd & Lexington

My friend—designer and entrepreneur extraordinaire Niraj Parekh—has opened up a new "lifestyle studio" on the Upper East Side at 92nd Street and Lexington Avenue, just across the street from the 92nd Street Y.
"Step into my new store "Gytha" and you are spirited away to an exotic land, full of beautiful designs for your home and yourself!

A unique Lifestyle Studio that combines exotic, sumptuous and beautiful fabrics from all over the World and a collection of contemporary and antique jewelry, silk scarves and more..

Location - 1384 Lexington Avenue, New York, N.Y - 10128 (Between 91st and 92nd St) Across from 92Y Ph # - 212 289 4114"
Niraj Parekh on the left with your humble blogger.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

No Pain, No Train on 2nd Avenue

It took close to 90 years to get this far in the construction of the 2nd Avenue Subway, but now it feels like the construction itself will take another 90 years. In the meantime many stores at the are launch box site are shuttering.
Michael Nagle for The New York Times
This is a great image above. It's such a contrast from the clean, rosy illustrations rendered in the early EIS reports.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Subterranean Cell Phone Service You Say?

Image courtesy of

Love or hate the prospect of it...underground wireless reception for the subway may have taken a significant step forward according to Businessweek.
"AT&T Inc. and T-Mobile USA customers will have mobile-phone service on New York City subway stations after the carriers signed 10-year agreements to access an underground network being built by Transit Wireless LLC."

Friday, October 1, 2010

I.M. Pei's Hyperboloid vs. Grand Central Terminal

Take I.M. Pei's plans with a mix of relief and regret.

So imagine a fictitious, 'alternate history', 'parallel universe' version of New York City. Here a hyperboloid skyscraper, a narrow, vase-shaped tower, stands proudly over the Midtown skyline. It stands haughty, unique, and unforgettable—and right on top of what used to be Grand Central Terminal.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Red Hook Trolley Redux

So, a few weeks ago there was once again talk of reviving the old Red Hook trolley plan.

This was a plan that I had seen come and go for years, but now there could be real hope that it'll come to fruition. And that's mostly due to the credibility of NYCDOT Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan's ability to actually get things done.

Friday, July 23, 2010

There's Something Special in the Air

In lieu of the proliferation of satellite photos on my blog, I had to mention this.

Untapped New York and Gothamist just posted a image of a commercial airplane that got captured by a satellite camera just as it passed over Bushwick.

Well I see your Bushwick flyover, and raise you a silver bird coming in for a landing at Prospect Park:

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

"Ninth Avenue Subway" (Route #2 from 1905)

The next route William Barclay Parsons, Chief Engineer of the Rapid Transit Commission laid out while the IRT was being constructed was one that would weave through northern Manhattan, run down 9th Avenue, then veer west right up against the waterfront along West Street. Like the First Avenue Subway (Route #1), the Rapid Transit Commission and Public Service Commission did not consider it a priority (most likely because of the existing 9th Avenue elevated) and kept the plans on the back burner. The IND however would give life to certain stretches of it. Read more after the jump.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

"First Avenue Subway" (Route #1 from 1905)

The first route William Barclay Parsons (Chief Engineer of the Rapid Transit Commission) laid out while the IRT was under construction would have stretched from Claremont Park in the Bronx, run southwards to 1st Avenue, make a straight shot to the Lower East Side, and then weave it's way to the Financial District. His bosses at the Rapid Transit Commission (and it's successor, the Public Service Commission) considered the route worthwhile, but not crucial in the near term. The plan was put on the back burner with some southern stretches being adopted into the Board of Transportation's IND system in the 1930's. To this day there is no other subway line to supplement the IRT East Side (the Lex) as it runs through the dense east side of Manhattan north of Houston Street. Read more after the jump.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

The 1905 vision of Manhattan and the Bronx

Long before the IND or BMT came into the picture—indeed literally at the dawn of subway building in New York—William Barclay Parsons was already engineering the encore to his "Rapid Transit Railroad" aka the Interborough Rapid Transit system, the first leg of our Subway system. Read more after the jump.

This map is from the "Railroad Gazette, 1907" posted online courtesy of Google Books.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

"1905 Route #9: Brooklyn & Manhattan Loop Line - Trackage" on the mend

It's a complicated setup that the esteemed Mr. Parsons and company had drawn up in 1905. While initially I had just laid out the route after eye-balling the line drawing map that came with it, I had always intended to assign the text of each description to it's appropriate section. Which given Google Maps' constraints would involve recreating each line. Promise to have the route up and ready as soon as possible. And later on, an amalgam of all of the planned routes of 1905 into one map.

Friday, April 23, 2010

The Dual Contracts' "Second System" from 1920

And you thought the IND's Second System was huge. This, my friends is thus far the trippiest of the ego trips I've come across. It covers the ENTIRE city, ALL five boroughs including the waterfront of Hudson County, NJ (to be discussed in a future post). This map was included in the second of two New York Times' articles on the plan. What I love is that this wasn't submitted by some advisory panel or consulting engineer, but by the subway builders' themselves. It was completed by "Daniel L. Turner, chief engineer in the office of John H. Delaney, Transit Construction Commissioner":

Click on the "View Full Article" link below each to see a scanned pdf of each. Courtesy of the New York Times.

September 26, 1920: "$350,000,000 PLAN FOR SUBWAY ROUTES HAS BEEN COMPLETED; 830 Miles of New Track to Carry Five Billion Passengers a Year Contemplated."

October 3, 1920: "CITY'S GROWTH DISCOUNTED IN PLANS FOR ADDING 830 MILES OF TRACK TO RAPID TRANSIT SYSTEMS; Work to Cover Period of Twenty-five Years and Cost $350,000,000--New Lines and Extensions Would Provide for a Population of Nine Millions and Carry Five Billion Passengers"

I really like the way Daniel L. Turner thinks. He espouses the famous maxim attributed to Chicago city planner Daniel Burnham, "Make no small plans; they have no magic to stir men's blood". (I wonder if the two Daniels ever knew each other.) The goal of the plan was to ultimately eliminate all surface transit with elevateds, open-cuts, or subways as well as underground moving sidewalks (which had lately received much notoriety in the blogosphere). Many of the routes or their corridors in Manhattan, southern/western Bronx, and Brooklyn where already planned for rapid transit back in 1905 by William Barclay Parsons. The lines going to northeastern Bronx, Queens, and Staten Island were laid out first by Alfred Craven and then Mr. Turner. Later the Board of Transportation's IND would seemingly grandfather-in many of their plans from Turner's. (Notice what would be today's Culver IND and Fulton IND, but with notable exception is Queens Boulevard.)

My only criticism of Turner's plans is the insistence on parallel routes. It would have been better to mimic the pattern of railroad building and create multiple hub and spoke routes. The hubs around NYC include the downtowns of Flushing, Jamaica and Brooklyn plus Long Island City, Broadway Junction (BK), South Bronx, and St. George (SI).

If, nowadays, the city, state, and the MTA can get past their endless series crisis management, then a "100 Year Blueprint" on this scale should be produced and adhered to like a city charter.

Oh, you know I'm gonna create a Google Map of this. If anyone has more detailed information on the plans, please post them and give me a heads up.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Walkability and the Le Corbusier superblock

Streetsblog brings up the topic of increasing walkability in NYC.

One project towards that goal is the restoration of 129th Street through the St. Nicholas Houses:

One agency that's doing some interesting work to connect housing policy with urban design is the New York City Housing Authority. NYCHA General Manager Mike Kelly pointed to a site where enhancing walkability is also helping to add and improve housing. At the St. Nicholas Houses in Harlem, NYCHA plans to restore the street grid to a towers-in-the-park superblock, extending 129th Street from Frederick Douglass Boulevard to Adam Clayton Powell, Jr. Boulevard.

IMO, restoring the road without restoring the "streetwall" would be better for cars than people.

People have opinions about the whole mission of public housing, however Le Corbusier's saving grace may be all that green space. They're extra lungs for a neighborhood, before which there was none.

In a "satellite" photo of Downtown Brooklyn from 1924—long before Cadman Plaza and MetroTech—the area is thick with buildings with little if any greenery:

Plus they provide a shelter, for those within, from the demolition derby of the road.

They're very pedestrian friendly, but if we want walkability then allow the ground floor the buildings to be rented out for shops. Or if we're going to restore the road, then restore the original streetwall.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Lost Parks of New York: Parade

Now this would have changed the nature of Midtown. Imagine everything from Madison Square to Herald Square and from Murray Hill to Penn Station—all park land. All that remains of it is Madison Square Park. As it's name implies, Parade would have served primarily as parade grounds for military exercises, drills and pageantry. Like armories they would eventually be used by cities for more civilian purposes. Like "Market Place", I like the name "Parade". It seems down-to-earth and to-the-point. Perhaps later on some bombastic committee of city patricians would successfully petition to have it renamed.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Lost Parks of New York: Market Place

All that remains is Tompkins Square. Would've added a lot of green to the Lower East Side. I rather like the name Market Place, it seems to hearken back to the pre-modern tendency to name parks and commons to be descriptive or even utilitarian rather than commemorative. Makes me imagine merchants, artisans, hucksters, itinerant performers and such, all gathered under the eaves and lanes of Market Place.

More on Tompkins Square Park at NYC Dept. of Parks & Recreation.

Lost Parks of New York

Behold the greenery that could have been had the corrupt politicians out of Gangs of New York not run this city.

The NYC Dept. of Parks & Recreation website had the foresight to present "Parks for the New Metropolis (1811–1870)" to inform and enlighten us on the history of parks in NYC.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

IND Second System Map 1929 plan

So this will be my first post for Ego Trip Express. I'll begin this blog as a means to display the Google Maps I've made that lay out the bygone plans in New York City.

I'll start with the most famous of them, the "IND Second System". A very comprehensive entry in Wikipedia goes into detail about it.

The map below is interactive, if you click on a line it'll describe the details of it. You can also click on the link just below it to open it in Google Maps itself and turn on "Transit" to compare it to the existing system. Unfortunately Google Maps has yet to allow embedding of it's Transit overlay into sites outside of Google Maps.

I'll be going into detail on the features of the plan and post other maps and links to Google Books as time goes by. Thank you and enjoy.