Third Avenue Lightweight Streetcars

8259 views
57 replies
1 rating 2 rating 3 rating 4 rating 5 rating
  • Member since
    September, 2003
  • 7,068 posts
Posted by Overmod on Tuesday, November 21, 2017 5:54 AM

There are videos of the 'last days' of the 2nd and 3rd Avenue Els (narrated by Roger Arcara iianm) that clearly show the bridges and track arrangements with discussion (and film!) of operations across them.

  • Member since
    September, 2011
  • 4,101 posts
Posted by MidlandMike on Tuesday, November 21, 2017 9:26 PM

Are those videos on line?

  • Member since
    June, 2002
  • 14,568 posts
Posted by daveklepper on Thursday, November 23, 2017 1:07 PM

Yes, definitely, on U-Tube.   Google Second and Third Avenue Elevateds, and you will reach it.   Very good, except too much footage on scrapping and disposing of old cars.  Also one minior error.  The streetcar undr the 2nd Avenue and 42nd Street Station he calls a 42nd Street crosstowno is clearly a double-end Peter Witt 551-series lightweight assigned only to the Broadway - 42nd Street Line.  The 42nd St. Crosstown was run almost entirely by curved-side convertables with the occasional Sunday-only appearance of end-door 626-series lightweights borrowed from the 59th Street crosstown.

Also the old subway cars used as elevated express trains were composites, not mostly wood.  We called them The Comoposites.

  • Member since
    June, 2002
  • 14,568 posts
Posted by daveklepper on Sunday, October 07, 2018 7:34 AM

As an experiment, one of the aluminum bodied 551-600 Brodway - 42nd Street "Huffliners" was left mainly unpainted aliluminum with red numbers and trim.  After some months it was painted creamy yellow and red like the oeathers.  I copied this photo 71 years ago from the companies files.

  • Member since
    June, 2002
  • 14,568 posts
Posted by daveklepper on Tuesday, October 09, 2018 9:03 AM

Here we are at the north end of the West Farms carhouse, August 1948, with 194 the last car on the Boston Road line,  The elevated structure is that use by the 2 and 5.  The car saw four more years of service in Yonkers, until 1952.

  • Member since
    September, 2011
  • 4,101 posts
Posted by MidlandMike on Tuesday, October 09, 2018 8:22 PM

Dave, it does not look like the photo made it into your last post.

  • Member since
    June, 2002
  • 14,568 posts
Posted by daveklepper on Wednesday, October 10, 2018 1:09 PM

Strange.  Should be able to correct this tomorrow with a wide-band server.

  • Member since
    June, 2002
  • 14,568 posts
Posted by daveklepper on Thursday, October 11, 2018 2:33 AM

corrected by this post with another from the same day:

  • Member since
    June, 2002
  • 14,568 posts
Posted by daveklepper on Sunday, October 14, 2018 4:51 AM

Correction to previous posts. 194 was not the last car and was at the north upper level portal on Southern Bkvd of the West Farms car-house.  196, the last car, was photographed inside on the lower level, back entrnce.  Both cars saw addional service in Yonkers replacing 301-400 series cars that needed overhauling.

In the autumn 1947 the Columbia Grammar Prep Football team played a game (Bronx Highschool of Science?) on the public park field across 161st Street from Yankee Stadium; and, while photographing football actifities, I did manage a passing photo of 130, formerly a conduit car for the "T"and "K" Manahttan routes, but transfered to the Bronx with troilley pole in March 1947.  I think it was sold to someplace in Indua in 1948.  The Elevated structure in the background is here on River Street, merges into Jerome Avenue, behind me here, just before the 167th Street Station.  The "4" is the line today.  The streetcar line is the 161st-163rd  Street Crosstown.

  • Member since
    June, 2002
  • 14,568 posts
Posted by daveklepper on Thursday, January 10, 2019 5:05 AM

Here are all photos scanned so far for my favorite streetcar, the Broadway - 42nd Street Huffliner named for Slaughter Huff, Pres. of Third Avenue Railway and then Third Avenue Tansit, and believer in conltinued streetcar operation on heavy routes.  Two or three posted earlier.

551 was the sample prototype, aluminum.  Reportadly built by Brill.  552-600 were also aluminium, but assembled at the Third Avenue'shop at E. 65th St. and Third Avenue.

Here it is equipped with a temporar single trolley pole at the Gardner Avenue, Mt. Veron, yard, shorly after its completion in 1938.  Its visit to Yonkers and Westchester may have been to test its speed capabilities on Yonkers Avenue, where sustained relatively high speed ws possible, and it probably was run all the way to New Rochelle to get tusrned around at the loop there.

555, one of the 551- 600 aluminum production run, was left as unpainted aluminum, with a thin red stripe.  The wood doors were painted silver to match.  The car is in front of the 129th Stret and Amsterdam Av. carhouse. 551 had exit doors opposed, 552-600, and the Corten steel 601 - 625 had staggered exit doors; 551's were opposite.

551 - 625 were the only Peter Witt Third Avenue cars.  All others in the era of one-man operation had rear exits.  577 is at or around 86th & Broadway.

597 is southbound at Broadway and 73rd Street.

Sao Paulo, Brazil

 

  • Member since
    January, 2019
  • From: Henrico, VA
  • 935 posts
Posted by Flintlock76 on Thursday, January 10, 2019 9:16 AM

Thanks for your efforts on this David, it's a fascinating look at a vanished time!

  • Member since
    September, 2003
  • 7,068 posts
Posted by Overmod on Thursday, January 10, 2019 11:20 AM

Didn't Richard Rodgers briefly have Huff in mind before he changed the street in the song title from 3rd to 10th?

  • Member since
    June, 2002
  • 14,568 posts
Posted by daveklepper on Thursday, January 10, 2019 11:32 AM

And in addition to being Peter Witts, 551-625 differed from the other new lightweights in copying the Agasote?? ceiling treatment of the PCCs and their frosted glass lighting.  The other new lightweighs, 101-200, 301-400, and 626-685 had bare roofs and exposed bulbs.  Reversable seating was rattan.  In addition, there were wood-board seats that were turned down from upright actoss the unused doorways on the off-side of the car, since only right-hand doors were used.  And an additdional wood seat was the top of the sandbox.

Really my favorite streetcars

  • Member since
    June, 2002
  • 14,568 posts
Posted by daveklepper on Thursday, January 17, 2019 2:39 AM

After the 1937 - 1938 construction of the Peter-Witt door-arrangement "Huffliners," again my favorite cars, 551 - 625, the last homemade lightweights were 626 - 685.  626 - 645 were conduit cars for 59th Street Crosstown, with one or two replacing convertables on 42nd Street Crosstown on Sundays.  They had special truckx using some rubber inlays to reduce noise.  May and June 1947 they got trolley poles and joined trolley-pole 646-685 to close out specifically Bronx atreetcar lines in August 1948.  (Yonkers lines entered The Bronx until 1952.)  The 59th Street X was the first line converted post-WWIi, 1 November 1946, while the Tremont Avenue line was one that lasted until August 1948.  See Jack May's report on his Vienna visits, TRAINS Transi Forum, for the further use of most of these cars.  The Bronx's Tremont Avenue line was joined by Southern Boulevard "S", Westchester Avenue "A", and Boston Post Road "B" as the final four.   In addition to 626-685, 101-200 and some high-numbered 300's that originally were conduit cars, closed The Bronx service.  All the wood convertables had been scrapped,

 

 

  • Member since
    January, 2019
  • From: Henrico, VA
  • 935 posts
Posted by Flintlock76 on Thursday, January 17, 2019 12:08 PM

Pictures two and three have a nice surprise in them, an Esso gas station!

It's been a long time since I've seen one of those!

Thanks David!

  • Member since
    September, 2013
  • 4,115 posts
Posted by Miningman on Thursday, January 17, 2019 1:58 PM

Plenty of Esso stations still up here right across the whole land. 

Esso/Imperial Oil a household name in Canada due to their sponsorship of Hockey Night in Canada right from Day1 of TV. 

Back in da day when I was a kid the Esso commercials during the hockey game was LIVE! Anyone remember Murray Westgate? Bow tie, Station attendant outfit, tire gauge in breast pocket. He was as popular as the hockey players. Died Aug /2018 age 100. 

Here's an ad:

https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=S6cWeVy-xA8

Stateside Esso became Exxon and, to put in a railroad connection, the Exxon logo was designed by Raymond Lowery. How about that! 

We still have uniformed gas station attendants up here in La Ronge. We'll sort of, Co-oP gas bar gas jockeys wear black and red outfits and matching parkas in the winter. Name on the jacket, tire gauge, the whole schtick. Yes they always always always clean the windshield. 

On the other hand we have old Herman and his entire one early 60's pump thats so beat up, no glass cover, and super slow. Don't know how he gets away with it. Think he summons the bears when the inspectors come up a-la Tarzan. 

 

  • Member since
    May, 2012
  • 3,661 posts
Posted by rcdrye on Thursday, January 17, 2019 5:22 PM

Nice shot of 631.  I have many happy hours at its controller at Seashore (Complete with "X Crosstown" panel), where it awaits motor bearing work and other TLC when money becomes available.

  • Member since
    January, 2010
  • 317 posts
Posted by seppburgh2 on Thursday, January 17, 2019 9:12 PM
Awesome! Thanks for sharing a view into a long gone era.
  • Member since
    March, 2016
  • From: Burbank IL (near Clearing)
  • 11,181 posts
Posted by CSSHEGEWISCH on Friday, January 18, 2019 10:21 AM

As an aside, the ESSO brand name could not be used nationwide in the United States as part of the Standard Oil break-up agreement.  Consequently, the "Oklahoma" and later the ENCO brand name were used in the Midwest.

The daily commute is part of everyday life but I get two rides a day out of it. Paul
  • Member since
    August, 2005
  • From: At the Crossroads of the West
  • 9,906 posts
Posted by Deggesty on Friday, January 18, 2019 1:31 PM

I grew up in South Carolina, knowing  "ESSO" quite well. You could buy Standard Oil of New Jersey products in both Carolinas, Tennessee, Louisiana and, I think, Virginia. My oldest brother worked at the ESSO refinery in Baton Rouge.

Johnny

  • Member since
    April, 2018
  • 978 posts
Posted by Jones1945 on Saturday, January 19, 2019 6:31 AM

There are at least 42 Esso gas stations in the city I am living in. So no worries, Esso is still with us. CoffeeLaugh

Jones Family Railroad Hobby YouTube Channel: 
https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCu9gt9Q9RF-Hwq7xWciVcWg/

  • Member since
    June, 2002
  • 14,568 posts
Posted by daveklepper on Sunday, January 20, 2019 2:54 AM

Please see a spelling correction and additional information on my previous posting.

  • Member since
    June, 2002
  • 14,568 posts
Posted by daveklepper on Thursday, March 07, 2019 2:24 AM

Here is 637, built for 59th St., Manhattan, without poles and with a conduit "plow" current-collector after it received poles and was moved to The Bronx at the eastern terminal od the Tremont Street line.  (Union Port Avenue?)

And on a demonstration run, probably for visitors from Vienna, on Southeern Blvd.  Correction:  The 59th Street photo is of duplicate 631. Apologies.

  • Member since
    September, 2003
  • 7,068 posts
Posted by Overmod on Thursday, March 07, 2019 6:43 AM

CSSHEGEWISCH
As an aside, the ESSO brand name could not be used nationwide in the United States as part of the Standard Oil break-up agreement.  Consequently, the "Oklahoma" and later the ENCO brand name were used in the Midwest.

Different brand names were 'proprietary' to the various independent companies that Standard Oil was broken up into, a problem with "Esso" (it's from S.O. meaning Standard Oil of New Jersey) being that it couldn't be used in areas that had other "Standard Oils" (like Sohio or SOCONY).  The creation of "Exxon" in the computer was an attempt to synthesize a national brand that would not suffer from the problems Humble Oil had with the Esso (and then Enco) branding in the '60s as it tried to establish a national presence.

I don't usually like citing Wikipedia but they have a pretty good discussion-in-a-nutshell here.

  • Member since
    September, 2003
  • 7,068 posts
Posted by Overmod on Thursday, March 07, 2019 6:47 AM

The New York and Stamford was also one of those roads with a lavish private car, a detail that should surely find its way into recent discussion.

Seems to me that one of the topics here is the 'plow exchange' in the vicinity of the Willis Avenue Bridge, where apparently there was expanded vault space for people to attach and detach plows quickly, if not in fact 'on the fly'.  Presumably there was a procedure similar to that at Penn Station to ensure that the overhead connection (or at least the collector contact) was not 'energized' at the same time the plow's was...

  • Member since
    June, 2002
  • 14,568 posts
Posted by daveklepper on Tuesday, March 26, 2019 6:29 AM

The south end of the Willis Avenue Bridge on First Avenue, around East 128th Street did have a "plow-pit," and the Willis Avenue convertable streetcars switched between conduit opertion beween that point and the Fort Lee Ferry at the Hudson shore at West 125th Street, and overhead wire north to 149th Street ("The Hub") Willis Avenue, Third Avenue, 149th Street, Melrose Avenue (location of the 3rd Avenue Station of the existing 2 and 5 subway lines).  That line went bus just before the Trioboro Bridge was construted, construction that interfered with the streetcar operation.

 But the plow-pit at West 145th Street and Lenox Avenue was used by the 149th Street Crosstown until the summer of 1947.

Here are some photos from the Georgetown plow-pit on the Capitol Transit Cabin John line, already posted on the Capitol Transit thread, but here repeated to give you an idea of how they worked.

Coming from downtown:

Towards downtown:

And between times:

Plow-pit man:

At the Benning Road Plow-pit:

  • Member since
    September, 2011
  • 4,101 posts
Posted by MidlandMike on Tuesday, March 26, 2019 11:07 PM

The plow pit opening looks big enough for a auto wheel or pedestrian to fall into.  Were they normally open like in the photo.

  • Member since
    May, 2012
  • 3,661 posts
Posted by rcdrye on Wednesday, March 27, 2019 9:04 AM

MidlandMike

The plow pit opening looks big enough for a auto wheel or pedestrian to fall into.  Were they normally open like in the photo.

 

That's what the bollards are for.  The Benning Rd. pit was used by WB&A interurbans prior to 1935.

SUBSCRIBER & MEMBER LOGIN

Login, or register today to interact in our online community, comment on articles, receive our newsletter, manage your account online and more!

FREE NEWSLETTER SIGNUP

Get the Classic Trains twice-monthly newsletter