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Metro-North Rail Train at Riverdale Trains Observations Photos Videos

Throughout my travels, I frequently find myself fascinated with various types of railroad engineering. During my five years at Amtrak, I got the chance to observe quite a few distinctive machines devoted to the process of building railroad tracks. Particularly memorable were Portal-Krane 1, which maneuvered large pre-constructed switches into position during Penn Station Renewal, the catenary maintenance cars that lift technicians into position to service the wires on the Northeast Corridor, and the various rail grinders and welding machines used to replace Continuous Welded Rail (CWR). Closer to home but in a similar vein, Metro-North’s rail train has recently...

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The New York & Harlem Railroad Turns 190—Images From the Early Years History Photos

Today we are wishing the New York and Harlem Railroad—New York City’s first railroad—a very happy 190th birthday. On this day in 1831, the railroad was chartered to build from 23rd Street to the Harlem River. Ground was broken later on that year on October 11, in a rocky section of Murray Hill, around 32nd and Fourth Avenue. After a ceremonial rock boring, railroad president John Mason blasted a whistle thirteen times and delivered a rousing speech, celebrated with cheering from the crowd, and drinks of sparkling champagne. Although so long ago, in some respects we today are in a...

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Up Close With Grand Central Observations History Photos

I always thought it would be a fun challenge to take my 300mm zoom lens and capture the details of Grand Central. There are so many intricate design elements throughout the Terminal that one could spend many an hour doing solely that. From the constellations and their lighted stars to the sculpted acorns and oak leaves, and the brass information booth clock in all her glory there are just so many things that one could adore—and that’s just inside the main concourse. Many of these details were influenced by French aesthetic. The three main artists that created works for Grand...

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Hotel Commodore: Part 2 — 10 Reasons Why You’ll Love the New Skyscraper Next to Grand Central History Photos

In part one we left off with the story of the Hotel Commodore and its gradual fall into disrepair, mirroring the downturn of passenger railroading in the United States. The subsequent story has been oft-told, largely because one of the major players is a flamboyant former president of the United States. In his first major real estate deal, Donald Trump used his father’s influence with the local political apparatus to negotiate a deal for tax breaks for the old hotel. After arranging an unprecedented 40 year tax abatement arrangement with the city, Trump then negotiated with Hyatt to partner in...

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Times are changing… Events Photos

It’s that time again… that loathed period of the year when we change our clocks and lose an hour of sleep. Our world today is thoroughly regulated by time, but it wasn’t always that way. Time was once more fluid, independently existing at the local level by simply observing the sun, or by watching a prominent neighborhood clock—that one in the town square, perhaps. To the railroads, time was essential. Schedules were to be kept, and inaccurate timekeeping could, and did, lead to accidents. The oft-mentioned mantra is that every railroad rule is written in blood, and that included even...

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Behind the Scenes at the Subway’s Power Control Center Trains Photos Videos

Throughout the city there are countless nondescript structures that garner little attention from passersby. Hidden within one of them is the Power Control Center of New York City’s subway system, which like many important pieces of infrastructure today tries to keep a lower profile. A venerable hive of activity, the Power Control Center occupies an enormous room with long rows of seafoam green control panels running its length. Clusters of desks are arranged in the middle between the panels, with a perfect sight line to monitor the flashing lights and relayed information. The PCC’s expansive control panels display a schematic...

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