The New Grand Central Terminal Digital Departure Display

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The New Grand Central Terminal Digital Departure Display
Posted by daveklepper on Tuesday, April 30, 2019 3:37 AM

The old and the new

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Posted by daveklepper on Thursday, August 15, 2019 2:49 AM

Here is all-new, assembled from three photos by Randy Glucksmith and posted with his permission:

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Posted by 54light15 on Friday, August 16, 2019 2:30 PM

Nice but it's no Solari board! I miss that thing! 

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Posted by Flintlock76 on Friday, August 16, 2019 5:22 PM

Yeah, certainly not as fun and dramatic as a Solari board, but as I understand it the parts for a Solari aren't available anymore, so what are you gonna do?  

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Posted by Steve B500 on Friday, August 16, 2019 8:46 PM

Too bad they didn't at least keep the subdued white on black look, in keeping with the historic nature of the building. It still would have been perfectly readable. The color is too jarring and bright. 

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Posted by D.Carleton on Saturday, August 17, 2019 3:14 AM

Meh.

Editor Emeritus, This Week at Amtrak

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Posted by CMStPnP on Saturday, August 17, 2019 3:38 AM

I like the old German slat boards...............

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cj32w5z81Ak

 

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Posted by CSSHEGEWISCH on Saturday, August 17, 2019 6:49 AM

Time marches on.  In my youth, I can remember when Solari boards were the new thing at airports and the various airlines talked them up.  Nevertheless, they are mechanical and you can display only so much information on them, which doomed them as airlines expanded with de-reg.

The daily commute is part of everyday life but I get two rides a day out of it. Paul
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Posted by NKP guy on Saturday, August 17, 2019 8:39 AM

   The Cleveland Union Terminal had a very large (10' x 10'?) and centrally located blackboard, impressively framed in bronze.  In front of it sat an attendant behind a small marble wall.  This man used chalk and a ladder to enter the information required.  It certainly wasn't as interesting as a Solari board, but there was some suspense as the attendant would write out in longhand what was happening with the train you were waiting for.  The only sound the blackboard made was when the chalk squeeked on it as he wrote.  When he finished writing he'd grab his microphone and announce the updated information as his voice echoed off the marble walls of the huge waiting room.  Who doesn't miss old-time train announcements?

   What did GCT use before the Solari's were installed?  Another blackboard?  Where was it located?  

   New Haven's station now has a new board just like the one on the right in the GCT photo.  I hate to say it, but it's easier to read and can contain more train information.  

   But still, I really enjoyed watching and hearing the Solari boards clacking away.  Which railroad museum will preserve one for visitors to enjoy?

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Posted by Flintlock76 on Saturday, August 17, 2019 9:10 AM

The Solari board in Philidelphia's 30th Street Station was replaced last year, and somebody's  got it now, either a preservation group or rail museum, I don't recall who.  Possibly the Railroad Museum of Pennsylvania?

At least it wasn't junked.

And yes, GCT had a blackboard, but I don't know just where it was.  

Progress, folks.  The hand-written blackboard went the way of bowling alley pin-set boys a long time ago.

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Posted by daveklepper on Saturday, August 17, 2019 2:47 PM

If my memory is correct, the old white chalk on black slate blackboards were on the central Infomation Kiosk.  And many more people asked for information there in those days. I am referring to 70 or so years ago.  And the Kisok was more elaborate, more decorations, in those days.  With a four-sided clock above if my memory is correct.  All in polished bronze.

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Posted by zugmann on Saturday, August 17, 2019 2:55 PM

Flintlock76
The Solari board in Philidelphia's 30th Street Station was replaced last year, and somebody's got it now, either a preservation group or rail museum, I don't recall who. Possibly the Railroad Museum of Pennsylvania?

On loan to the RR museum of PA from Amtrak.

 The opinions expressed here represent my own and not those of my employer or any other railroad, company, or person.

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Posted by zugmann on Saturday, August 17, 2019 2:58 PM

Steve B500
The color is too jarring and bright.

Probably that way to make it more readable (contrast and brightness) for those with vision issues.

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Posted by Flintlock76 on Saturday, August 17, 2019 3:22 PM

zugmann

 

 
Flintlock76
The Solari board in Philidelphia's 30th Street Station was replaced last year, and somebody's got it now, either a preservation group or rail museum, I don't recall who. Possibly the Railroad Museum of Pennsylvania?

 

On loan to the RR museum of PA from Amtrak.

 

Thanks Zug, I knew it went somewhere!  I doubt Amtrak's going to want it back.

And David, that GCT information booth with the clock and polished bronze is still there.  I saw it maybe ten years ago, and it was a thrill!  A real-life piece of history! 

It was said at one time a person could spend their whole life in GCT and never have to leave, everything  one could want or need was available on-site.  Amazing. 

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Posted by Overmod on Saturday, August 17, 2019 4:25 PM

zugmann
Steve B500
The color is too jarring and bright. 

Probably that way to make it more readable (contrast and brightness) for those with vision issues.

It doesn't do that.  There is insufficient contrast between the letters and background -- one of the cardinal reasons the old boards used good letterforms against a dark background -- and there is so much brightness the background and letters are almost isoluminant in ambient light.

What this is appears to be display code 'adapted' from one of the current video service electronic program guides (EPGs), and probably used without any further examination into 'fitness for purpose' either as an information display or device to be used by the general public.  Hey! it's roughly the same subtended visual angle, and it's familiar to lots of our passengers, so what's not to like?  

After all the work I did on the EPG display criteria for the TV Anytime project... it's as if no one involved with this instantiation ever really bothers thinking about readability, let alone readability by the visually impaired.

 

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Posted by x2000 on Saturday, August 17, 2019 5:10 PM

The GCT Chalk boards (2) are located in the "Arrivals Waiting Room" at the top of the "upper thirty" track numbers.They are still there, handsomely framed in bronze and covered in glass, displaying representative information written in chalk.  One board was for New York Central trains and the other was for New Haven trains.  A unifomed attendant sat in one corner of the board location.  His desk contained, among other things, a "Tel-autowriter"(sp?) and a public address microphone, as well as a supply of chalk and board erasers.  Arrival information would be received via the"Tel-autowriter" and he would post the news as appropriate.  He would announce train arivals as well. Information on the auto writer originated at a remote tower and appeared as actual handwriting just as the towerman wrote it.  Arrival times, delay information, and departure track information was received in this fashion.

The "Arrivals Waiting Room" or Arrivals Hall featured long ramps that led down  to platforms that served the several loop tracks that circled the stub end tracks that make up most of GCT's track layout.  Most long-distance trains arrived on one of loop tracks.  Once they had discharged their passngers, they continued arround the loop, often to Mott Haven Yard where they were switched and seviced.  In general, trains did not depart from the loop tracks.

Departures were not posted in this fashion.  Nor were there any boards above the ticket offices or the information booth. These are a "modern addition"  courtesy of the MTA. Inquiring customers would ask about  long distance train departure tracks from the one or two attendants in the central information booth on the main level, while departure track data for commuter trains was available form the booth on the lower level.

Departure data was also posted prominently in white letters painted on black roll curtains which were put up at appropriate times on the gate departure frames adjacent to each track.  The departure frames also had racks to the left of the roll curtains.  Small removeable plates with car numbers were mounted one above the other and would display the order of sleeping car, parlor car, or reserved coaches by line numbers.  Plates that said "diner" or "lounge" were also displayed at the appropriate spot in the list.

Clearly, this was a labor intensive, but facinating and effective process.

Joe Silien

 

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Posted by Overmod on Saturday, August 17, 2019 5:49 PM

x2000
A unifomed attendant sat in one corner of the board location.  His desk contained, among other things, a "Tel-autowriter"(sp?) and a public address microphone, as well as a supply of chalk and board erasers.  Arrival information would be received via the"Tel-autowriter" and he would post the news as appropriate.  He would announce train arivals as well. Information on the auto writer originated at a remote tower and appeared as actual handwriting just as the towerman wrote it.  Arrival times, delay information, and departure track information was received in this fashion.

The Tel-Auto-Writer was a fascinating device.  It was in no sense a teletype, nor was it a telautograph.  One used a special stylus to ink a piece of mimeograph paper, and then passed this through the machine whereupon it did a one-to-many transmission to the other connected machines.  It had the signal advantage of involving only handwriting and very fundamental operator skills.

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Posted by Overmod on Saturday, August 17, 2019 5:58 PM

x2000
A uniformed attendant sat in one corner of the board location.  His desk contained, among other things, a "Tel-autowriter"(sp?) and a public address microphone, as well as a supply of chalk and board erasers.  Arrival information would be received via the"Tel-autowriter" and he would post the news as appropriate.  He would announce train arrivals as well. Information on the auto writer originated at a remote tower and appeared as actual handwriting just as the towerman wrote it.  Arrival times, delay information, and departure track information was received in this fashion.

The Tel-Auto-Writer was a fascinating device.  It was in no sense a teletype, nor was it a telautograph.  One used a special stylus to ink a piece of mimeograph paper, and then passed this through the machine whereupon it did a one-to-many transmission to the other connected machines.  It had the signal advantage of involving only handwriting and very fundamental operator skills.

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Posted by Miningman on Saturday, August 17, 2019 5:59 PM

Overmod-- Very correct. I would have great difficulty reading that display. No thought to the human condition! 

x2000-- Great information, thanks.

Here is more great information and fascinating reading from our friend Mike. Ad placed by Teledyne at the near bottom caught my attention. The manufacturer and inventor of the Water Pik started out as a Silver Miner in Cobalt, Ontario at its famous Teledyne Mine. When the silver ore finally ran out they had all this technology they developed, especially in air and water lines for underground drills Jacklegs and Stopers. Thinking about what to do now they built on all that acquired technology. Remnants of the Mine can still be seen. They still have a presence in Cobalt.

New York's Grand Central Terminal - modern information display with classic face
 

 

 

 

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Posted by daveklepper on Saturday, August 17, 2019 9:57 PM

I stand corrected on my memories of 70 years ago, and am happy that the central information booth has not been "modernized."  I do remember that one always went to that booth for departure information, if one did not immediately see the departure curtain sign at the specific gate.

But complaints about too much brightness or whatever about the new signs should come only if you actually experience them at the station, not a judgement from the pictures.  The feedback I have been getting from users has been positive.  

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Posted by Overmod on Sunday, August 18, 2019 5:32 AM

daveklepper
But complaints about too much brightness or whatever about the new signs should come only if you actually experience them at the station, not a judgement from the pictures.  

This is correct.  I have been there and my comments are based on the direct observation, not pictures.

At least part of the problem, for me, is the phony 'embossing' effect that is intended to make each line look convex.  This interferes with determining the letterforms and makes the board more tiresome to scan.

If they are going to obtrude that garish red, white, and blue scheme into GST, where it really doesn't fit, they might as well bring back the historic Kodak display (probably now as a showcase for one of those 8K TV makers) as that at least has nostalgia value for generations of station users.

The sad thing, of course, is that the displays are almost certainly full RGB and could display any graphics including those with clear 'historic letter form' graphics on an appropriate-tone background.  What we have instead is, in multiple senses, a failure of vision.

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Posted by daveklepper on Sunday, August 18, 2019 9:08 AM

By all means contact MN Public Relations!

You may have more weight if you are a regular commuter.

I should point out that the red is not red-red, but the McGinnis Red-Orange, having some historic basis for the New Haven Line.

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Posted by Flintlock76 on Sunday, August 18, 2019 11:03 AM

What a great thread this has turned into!  I'm learning a lot!

I got a kick out of seeing the Panasonic color TV picture tube ad in Miningman's link.  I was reminded of when our TV died about three years ago and we replaced it with a new flat-screen.  When I picked up the old set to take it to the dump I was forceably reminded just how heavy the things were!  It had sat in the living room for so long I'd completely forgotten.

I forgot to mention I have a familial connection with GCT.  My grandfather worked in the "Oyster Bar"  (Still there as well!) in the 1920's and learned how to make a Manhattan clam chowder that Dad said was fantastic!  Funny thing was, only Grandpa knew how to make it, he never showed Grandma how.  Odd.  Or maybe he did but she couldn't get the knack of it.  That's even more odd, man, she could  hit it out of the park with everything else!

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Posted by rdamon on Sunday, August 18, 2019 12:18 PM

Newark Penn attempted to keep the feel ..

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Posted by CMStPnP on Sunday, August 18, 2019 1:01 PM

Flintlock76
And David, that GCT information booth with the clock

Each of the four clock faces of that clock is made of large opal gemstone.   Which pushes the value of the clock to $10 million by conservative estimates.    Most people do not even know this that pass the clock daily.

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Posted by Flintlock76 on Sunday, August 18, 2019 1:39 PM

CMStPnP

 

 
Flintlock76
And David, that GCT information booth with the clock

 

Each of the four clock faces of that clock is made of large opal gemstone.   Which pushes the value of the clock to $10 million by conservative estimates.    Most people do not even know this that pass the clock daily.

 

Holy smoke, I didn't know that!  Amazing!  I wonder how many other unknown stories GCT holds?

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Posted by charlie hebdo on Sunday, August 18, 2019 1:42 PM

CMStPnP

I like the old German slat boards...............

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cj32w5z81Ak

 

 

They were still there and at Berlin-Tegel in 2018

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Posted by NKP guy on Monday, August 19, 2019 8:59 AM

CMStPnP
Each of the four clock faces of that clock is made of large opal gemstone.   Which pushes the value of the clock to $10 million by conservative estimates. 

  I found this a fascinating factoid.  What's your source for knowing the clock face is opal and that it's worth $10 million?

   I need confirmation before I start telling my friends in Manhattan about this.  I'm not necessarily doubting you, but I'd like to see this in print somewhere else.

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Posted by 54light15 on Monday, August 19, 2019 9:20 AM

I recall pictures of the info booth at GCT without it's "roof"- when was that added? I have heard that there is a place by the Oyster Bar where you stand by the entrance  and face the wall and speak at a whisper and someone on the other side will hear you perfectly. I could be wrong about the location but I am told it's by the Oyster Bar. It's an amazing place.

In 1994 after attending a beer festival under the Brooklyn Bridge (what a time that was!) and awaiting a train back to Poughkeepsie, I was in the deli at the southeast corner and was given the eye by a good looking blonde woman. She was a babe and she was a sergeant of New York's finest. 

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Posted by Flintlock76 on Monday, August 19, 2019 9:23 AM

Not to nit-pick, but I like to stop things before they take on a life of their own, that is, if it's not too late.  For example, the word factoid.  

A factoid is a "fact," usually ficticious that "everyone" thinks is true but really isn't, such as General Pershing saying "Lafayette, we are here!" when visiting the Marquis' grave in Paris.  Actually Pershing never said it, a colonel on his staff did, but it stuck to Pershing, who always denied it.

"Lord, I wish I DID say it!" was always Pershing's response when questioned.

The opal clock faces are a fact, not a factoid, assuming it's true.  It probably is, the NYC spared no expense on GCT. 

OK, stand by everyone, I did some research.  The clock faces aren't opal, they're opal milk glass.  So I guess we can call the "real opal" thing a factoid after all.  Embarrassed

And the appraisal of the clock by Sotheby's for anywhere from ten to twenty million dollars is apparantly an urban legend as well.  Another factoid.

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