Sunday, February 26, 2012

The Persistence of Horses


I've taken the New Jersey Terminals project all the way back to the beginning of railroading in the area. As early as 1812 Stevens had published his Documents Tending to Prove the Superior Advantages of Railway and Steam Carriages over Canal Navigation. In 1814 he surveyed a route across the state between New Brunswick and Trenton, pretty much what would eventually be the Northeast Corridor, even though Stevens's project itself was never realized. Still determined at age 76, Stevens in 1825 built a demonstration railroad on his property at Hoboken, New Jersey. While it was just a circular route to nowhere it was the first steam-powered railroad in New Jersey.

The consensus of railway historians is that the Stockton and Darlington Railroad, in northeastern England, was the first railroad to operate scheduled passenger and freight services, in 1825, the same year as Stevens's demonstration.

But the first practical railroads in the state were not steam powered. Early on, steam locomotives were small and underpowered, and had a tendency to break down or, worse, a tendency to explode because pressure was poorly regulated. Good locomotives were also hard to obtain. A company had to choose between the expense of importing one from England or the risk of allowing an American inventor to see if he could build one. As a result, conservative investors preferred the time-tested horse as motive power. Given smooth iron wheels running on smooth iron track, a horse could pull a greater load by railway than it could on ordinary streets. That was enough.

The first railroad opened in New Jersey was the Camden and Amboy. Its route will today seem peculiar: from South Amboy to Bordentown. The idea was to form a land route as short as possible between boat passages in New York Bay and on the Delaware River. The railroad opened at the end of 1832 with horses pulling the cars. Horses were changed three times so that each team worked a distance of less than ten miles. The company already had a locomotive on hand but did not trust the track or locomotive enough to use it. It had arrived from England as a kit, with no instructions, and had been fitted together in 1831 by a young mechanic who had never seen a locomotive. John Bull finally pulled a train late in 1833. The rest of the railroad, Bordentown to Camden, opened the next year. It's not clear from what I've read when the last trips were made by horse.

But South Amboy is not even on the New Jersey Terminals map. The familiar plan of running to a Jersey City waterfront terminal followed soon after, with the construction of two railroads.

The Paterson and Hudson River Railroad was the second railroad incorporated in the state and the second to open. Construction was supervised by two West Point engineers, McNeill and Whistler (the uncle and father of the later well known painter). Paterson was an industrial town taking advantage of hydropower from the drop in the Passaic River at Great Falls, but had poor transportation. Local investors pledge more than a million dollars toward the railroad, an incredible sum in 1831.

The first section of the P&H, horse operated, opened in 1832 between Paterson and a river landing at what is now Passaic. The more difficult section across the soft ground in the Hackensack Meadows was completed at the end of 1833, but there the railroad ended, at the location later called Marion. The new section was again powered by horses, and so were the carriages that completed the journey by road to the Hudson ferry.

The obstacle of course was Bergen Hill. The cut through the hill was being built jointly by the P&H and the New Jersey Railroad. Work began in 1832 and took six years to complete. All they had was black powder and hand tools.

The New Jersey Railroad was to run via Newark and Elizabeth to New Brunswick. The first section was finally opened late in 1834, almost a year after the P & H, from Newark to the junction. The companies built a temporary track by a routing I cannot identify over the top of Bergen Hill and then down to the ferry.

Neither company ran a steam locomotive until 1835, when they acquired one each, imported from England. The NJ's engine Newark actually managed to go up and over Bergen Hill pulling one coach.

The opening of the Bergen Hill cut in 1838 was also the occasion of running all-steam trains on the New Jersey Railroad. Up to that time locals to Newark were still horse powered, running in between steam trains to New Brunswick. Of course there were only a few a day on each service.

I don't have to hand the date when the P&H stopped running horse trains. It was probably earlier than 1838.

The really persistent use of horses was on my own familiar Morris and Essex Railroad. The M&E opened in 1836 from the New Jersey Railroad's Centre St station in Newark to Orange, horse powered, and onward to the original terminal at Morristown Green the next year. The M&E's cars were handled by the New Jersey Railroad to and from Jersey City.

The M&E got its first locomotive in time for the Morristown extension. It was built in Newark under the direction of inventor Seth Boyden, the polymath who already had the patent on patent leather and would in his later years develop the Hilton strawberry. Orange was probably the first locomotive built in New Jersey. It managed to go up the steep hill from Broad Street Newark to the Morris Canal crossing, a 2.5% grade, lessened today because the line is now above ground level at Broad Street and below ground level at the City Subway crossing. Reportedly Orange also achieved sixty miles an hour somewhere out in the Oranges. Doubt about that rests more on the crude condition of the track than any slight to Boyden's engine.

Boyden provided a second locomotive, Essex, the next year. But that was all, for quite a while. Local service between Newark and Orange continued to be run with horses, while the steam trains ran nonstop over that section. This is an arrangement you would expect to be very temporary in nature, but it was not.

The horsecar locals to Orange continued until 1851! Amazingly late. People in East Orange were complaining about having to change cars whether they were going east or west. And the service was so infrequent that an omnibus company had been formed to pull horse drawn stages over the parallel public road.

All this comes to mind as I work on the maps for 1835 and 1845. Should I indicate the horse services? I'm inclined not to, because I don't distinguish electric and steam operation later.


Sunday, February 19, 2012

Hudson Tube Recreation Guide

I don't think of the Hudson Tubes, also known as the Hudson and Manhattan Railroad, now known as the PATH system... every time I see an ad for H & M the clothing store I think of H & M the railroad... because sometimes I live in the past. Not even my own past, since the earliest I can remember riding through the tube was some years after it became PATH in 1962. But that's another story.

I don't think of the Hudson Tubes and recreation together. I guess not enough people did, so the company put out a Recreation Guide. There's no date. What's on the map inside tells me the likely date range is 1946-1956. The map is signed OPPY.

Oppy was the illustrator Amelia Opdyke Jones. She's best known for subway poster art (see here), but here she has strayed onto the H & M.

The compass rose for the map. It's fitting that the Tubes would have a round logo. That's one of the black cars, with the arched windows, which ran until newer equipment started arriving in 1958 and later. Oppy's lettering is always simple and pleasing.

Ball Parks: Ebbets Field, Polo Grounds, Yankee Stadium. For all three ballyards readers are advised, Get free H&M home game schedule. (If there are any other games played with balls, they are not mentioned in this guide.)

Concerts: Goodman Band. That bandshell in Central Park.

Greenwich Village: Quaint streets, shops, outdoor art shows, Washington Sq.

Library: Take IND "D" train to 42 St. Open Mon. through Sat. 9 AM to 10 PM. Sun. 1 to 10. Free.

Museums: Cloisters, Metropolitan, Modern Art, Mus City of N Y, Nat Hist and Planetarium. Admission to the MoMA was 60 cents, and the rest were free, except the Planetarium.

Zoos: Bronx, Central Park, Prospect Park. Free, except for some reason the Bronx Zoo was 12 cents Tuesday to Thursday.

Beaches: Coney Island, Orchard Beach. Beachgoers journeying on the uptown IRT from Fulton Street are advised to change at 125 St.

Buildings: City Hall, Empire State, Grant's Tomb, Radio City, Stock Exchange, United Nations. An interesting selection. Outstanding colonial architecture, antiques, it says of City Hall, at a lost age when visitors could not only walk right up to City Hall but go inside. Don't try it now. The 70th floor observation deck at "Radio City" (were they avoiding mentioning RCA?) at $1.50 a pop cost more to visit than the 102nd floor of the Empire State Building, but the former did include a guided tour.

Churches: Cath of St John, St Patrick's Cath, St Paul's Chapel, Temple Emanu-El, Trinity. I almost thought St Paul's made the list just because it was catty corner across from Hudson Terminal, but, Oldest public edifice in Manhattan, it says here.

Boat Rides: Around Man Island, Central Park Rowboats, Statue of Liberty, Various Other Cruises. I laughed at combining the rowboats into this category, but boats is boats. The Various Other Cruises mostly left from Pier 81 North River, 42nd St, and went to Atlantic Highlands, Bear Mt, Newburg, Poughkeepsie, West Pt, Yonkers (a confusingly disordered list). Others left from Pier 1 North River for Rye Playland, Rockaway Beach, and Moonlight Sail.

The Boat Rides item carefully steps around mentioning any ferries, not even the tourist favorite, the Staten Island Ferry. Touchy subject: the Tubes were built to replace or compete with the railroad ferries across the Hudson. If you wanted to ride a ferry... you could just get on one at Hoboken Terminal or Erie Jersey City and not use the Hudson Tubes. They didn't want anyone doing that!

I was looking around on the web for more on Oppy. I found the abstract of a New Yorker Talk of the Town feature from 1957 about the opening of the New York Aquarium, under the insane title "Aquarium Vernissage". Among those seated at Laurance Rockefeller's table was:--
Mrs. Amelia Opdyke Jones, who does posters for the "Subway Sun", and her son William. Young Mr. Jones runs a student alligator agency at Princeton, where he is about to graduate.

From the Daily Princetonian number for May 2, 1957:
Alligator Agency Formed to Satisfy That 'Hard to Please' Young Lady


"For the girl who has everything ... a live alligator." Two seniors have formed an organization to provide such merchandise for that hard-to-please young lady. "Sure we're serious," William J. Jones Jr. '57, co-founder of the Student Alligator Agency with Raymond S. Willey '57, said yesterday. The agency will send alligators to any place in the United States and Canada for $6.25, which price includes postage. Jones said the alligators, which run from a foot to a foot-and-half long, are guaranteed to arrive alive. The baby 'gators are all originally inhabitants of the Okefenokee Swamp in Florida, which also houses Pogo and his friends. They are shipped out by a Fort Lauderdale mailing firm. The agency suggests sending them as presents to preceptors, houseparties' dates, maiden aunts and brides-to-be. Upon arrival they will grow at a rate of only an inch-per-month. The care of the animals is no problem at all, as they will eat most anything. A rare delicacy for them is rare hamburger. It must be added, however, that sometimes they have to be forcefed at considerable risk to the feeder. Jones explained that he got into the business not only to make money, but because "just being the Student Alligator Agency appealed to us."

Sometimes I just don't know where one of my blog entries will lead me.

Two years earlier Oppy donated a silk dress from 1835 to the Metropolitan Museum. What is this, a commercial illustrator hobnobbing with a Rockefeller and donating fine antique clothing? Did she marry rich? Who was Mr Jones?

The more you know, the more you don't know.


Sunday, February 12, 2012

Elizabeth Loop


Research for the New Jersey Terminals map project is starting to enter the 19th century. I realize that some of my fine sources aren't all that solid on dates before 1900. There's going to be some guesswork on my part. But I do what I can.

Once in a while I come across something that's just baffling.


One such thing is the station lineup on the Greenwood Lake line between North Newark and Montclair. The railroad itself opened in 1873 and this portion had passenger service until 2002.

(7.9) North Newark (Newark): 1873.
(8.5) Forest Hill (Newark): possibly 1873. Junction with Orange Branch.
(9.0) Soho (Belleville): 1880s.
(9.4) Soho Park, later called Belwood Park (Belleville): 1890s.
(9.8) Orchard St, later called Rowe St (Bloomfield) : 1900?
(10.2) Bloomfield Walnut St: 1900? Replaced Bloomfield Chestnut St.
(10.4) Bloomfield Chestnut St: 1873? North side of Belleville Ave.
(10.9) Chestnut Hill, later called Glen Ridge Benson St: 1900? Replaced first Chestnut Hill.
(11.3) Chestnut Hill (Montclair): 1880s. At Montclair border.
(11.9) Montclair: 1873. Still open as Montclair Walnut St.

The numbers are mileages from Jersey City. Ten stations in only four miles! But of course, not all were open at the same time. It helped me to work out that Soho Park and Belwood Park are the same place, and so are Orchard St and Rowe St, so it's not twelve stations. But on the other hand, Chestnut Hill was two places.

Notice the big shift that happened sometime around 1900. Chestnut Hill moved four blocks east, Bloomfield moved three blocks east, and Orchard Street appeared.

Left to right: Chestnut St, Walnut St, Orchard St. Walnut St once overlooked the Morris Canal, and then since the 1920s overlooked a ditch where the canal used to be. You can see why the station was closed around 1953— the Garden State Parkway was built right through the site. (By the way, it's not to be confused with Montclair Walnut St, known at that time as Montclair Erie Plaza when it needed to be differentiated from Montclair Lackawanna Plaza.)

The renaming of Orchard St station remains a mystery to me. The story is sometimes told that Rowe St was opened to replace the station closed for parkway construction, but that's not right. It had been there for years. The rename was not simultaneous with closing Walnut St either. I have an Erie timetable of September 24, 1954, that has Walnut St gone but Orchard St still so named.

The station is located between Orchard St, a north-south local connector street, and Rowe St, a minor dead end. Why would you rename a station for the less important street at the other end? To make it harder for drivers to find it? I think passengers even had to go to the Orchard St end to cross the tracks. I just don't get it.

Soho had the distinction of being the smallest station in New Jersey. Back in the day, there were numerous stations up in the hills and down in the pines that were no more than a wooden shelter the size of an outhouse. But Soho beats that. No walls at all.

All right, some country train stops had no shelter whatsoever, so they were infinitely smaller than this, but why ruin a good story?


Anyway that's not what I wanted to tell you about.

One of my book sources is (take a breath) Historic Journeys by Rail / Central Railroad of New Jersey / Stations, Structures & Marine Equipment by Benjamin L Bernhart, Outer Station Project, 2004. It's a good book. The author has tried to provide a photograph of every station building that existed in the 1900-1930 heyday of the railroad and to give the dates of each one, which is just what I wanted for my map project.

Many of the photographs are from the Interstate Commerce Commission valuation project done about 1917. Among them was this one. This is what I meant by baffling.

The caption notes that this was Fourth Street station, Elizabeth, on the Elizabeth Loop Line. To which I said to myself, THE... WHAT?

The same 'NE' who provided us a map of the Penhorn Creek Railroad has also worked his magic for the Elizabeth Loop Line, here. The left tangent is the original Central of New Jersey main line, which ran down a private right of way in the middle of Broadway to the Arthur Kill, where passengers and freight continued to New York by water. The right tangent is a later freight branch.

To my knowledge, up to last week, the old main line had no passenger service after 1864, when the Newark Bay bridge was completed, allowing all trains to run to the railroad's newly opened Jersey City terminal. Besides how could Fourth Street be the only station on the loop line?

I admit, for a few days I wrote this one off as an error by the writer. It just had to be a freight office, not a passenger station. This is called denial. Look at it. Long covered platform, small house. That's a passenger station. It's just in a very wrong place.

And then I saw Map of the City of Elizabeth New Jersey by Grassman & Kreh, published by Ernest L Meyer Inc, 1916. That might be the same year as the photograph! You can see it at Rutgers University's page New Jersey Historical Maps.

But I'll give you the key detail, below. I rotated the map to put north more or less at the top. (By the way it is intriguing how many New Jersey mapmakers in the early 20th century still carried on the Dutch colonial practice of putting west at the top.)

CNJ main line trains from Jersey City came in from the upper right, stopping at the important Elizabethport junction station, and stopping or passing the local Spring Street station at lower left. The other lines at Elizabethport ran north to Newark and south to Perth Amboy and shore points. Passengers would change at Elizabethport if their train did not continue in the direction they wanted.

I now think that around this date, the CNJ ran some local trains as follows. Coming from Jersey City, take a left at Elizabethport, stopping at the curved platform, like a shore train. But then, eight blocks south, take a right into the old main, and stop at Fourth Street. Continue straight back onto the main line in time to make the Spring Street stop too. How's that?

The routing I just described adds one stop to the run while skipping none. It also meets the usual railroad definition of a loop, which is not an oval, but rather a branch line that diverges from the main and then rejoins further on, forming an alternate route.

The Loop route could not have been operated much later than 1917. Within a few years the Perth Amboy line was raised above street level on an earth embankment, to eliminate the street crossings at grade, and that work also eliminated the connecting curve to old main line in Broadway.

I'm tentatively putting the Elizabeth Loop onto the 1915 and 1905 maps, but not earlier. Princeton's online Sanborn map collection has a map of Elizabeth from 1889 that shows neither the station nor the connecting curve. The map from 1903 at the same site shows the curve without the station, but because the station was a wooden structure in the middle of the street, I'm willing to imagine that it was left off. The 1889 map coverage also shows that much of the city was not yet built up in this area. I think the Loop station was used for factory shifts, and therefore would have had only a few trains per day at the right times. In that case it was not a holdover from 1864 but a new service put back on part of the old main when there was enough passenger traffic to warrant it. I don't think that happened yet in 1895.

There was a similar stop east of Elizabethport, Singer's, which Mr Bernhart documents as being in use from about 1908 to about 1926. It was for employees of the Singer Sewing Machine factory next to the line at that location, and it was doomed by another reconstruction project, the grade change for a new Newark Bay bridge. For that matter the CNJ's Kearny station was primarily for the Western Electric plant, and the entire Sound Shore Branch in Linden and Carteret (known in its later years as the Chemical Coast line!) was for factory workers.

I have never seen any mention of the Elizabeth Loop service in any book or web site, and I have the feeling I am one of just a handful of living humans who know about it. Now you are too.


Sunday, February 5, 2012

Stereoview GIFs


This was the week we all heard about New York Public Library's Stereogranimator that makes animated GIF files out of their stereoview collection.

I have quite a few stereoviews myself, so I wanted to do it. It's this week's crazy thing. I want to be a happening person.

You can see five images here. They might make you feel dizzy, but they're still cool.

I thought I'd write here about how I did them.

You use the software you have. I see there's something for freakin' Windows that helps you align the images, but I'm not quite ready to go over to the Dark Side. I have Graphic Converter and I have Illustrator, and if you're on a Mac you can do it with those.

The main thing you need to do is to align the two images properly. The rest is just implementation. For example take this view:

The anchor point should be on something near the middle in depth. For this image, I chose the tree in between the women and children and the train. The tree was good: I moved the second image around until the branches of the tree lined up.

1. Graphic Converter. I scanned the stereoview and converted to greyscale.

I did a test run with color, but the conversion to GIF seemed to create artifacts, so I let it go. For each of these the images are albumen prints in shades of brown, mounted on cards with wild colors like yellow, orange, or lime green.

2. Graphic Converter. Open the image, select each half, copy.

3. Illustrator. Create a three-layer image. Two layers are the two halves of the view. Make the upper layer 50% transparent, and move it around until the anchor point, like the tree up above, is aligned. The third layer, at the bottom, is a rectangle surrounding both the other layers.

4. Illustrator. Select one image and the rectangle, and export. Then select the other and the rectangle, and export.

Illustrator will export only the content, not empty space around it. The purpose of the rectangle is to make the two exported images the same size with the anchor point at the same location in both. The two images themselves may be slightly different widths, and in a stereoview each image always has a little bit on the right or left that is not in the other image, so the exported files will not align without the rectangle around them.

5. Graphic Converter. Using Convert & Modify, select the two images exported from Illustrator and tell it to create an animated GIF from them. I used a delay of 0.2 seconds.


Except it was not done in one case, which happened to be the first one I tried. It's the last of the five images on that page. It just didn't work, and I didn't see why. I finally realized that the views were not mounted exactly right on the card. They were on two separate prints. When I rotated one of them 1 degree, suddenly it all worked. I anchored it on the boy on the platform.

PS: New Jersey Terminals is coming along. I was going to put the maps up one or two a week, but what happened is that I keep finding corrections that had to go back a few steps up the line. Just yesterday I found out something at 1915 that had to copy up to 1925, 1935, and 1945. So I'm holding on to them rather than keep uploading updates. It's going to be good.