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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 Purple Heart Limited: Pullman War Ads, Part 2 Advertisements History Videos

Several months ago I brought you a collection of advertisements from the Pullman Company during World War II. Collecting old “railroad paper” has become a hobby of mine, from timetables and broadsides to postcards and advertisements such as these. When scanning, I attempt to digitally restore the image, so it looks more like it did when it was published, and without the tears, folds, dirt, and stains it picked up over the years. Today’s collection of ads shows some of the faraway locations that soldiers were sent in the war, as well as how they returned. Many soldiers utilized the...

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Hotel Commodore: Past, Present, and Future: Part 1 History Videos

By now you’ve probably heard the news that there are even more changes coming to Grand Central’s doorstep, with another skyscraper slated to be constructed alongside it. The Grand Hyatt, formerly known as the Hotel Commodore, will be demolished and a supertall structure built in its stead. The area surrounding the Terminal has already seen—and will continue to see—changes due to the rezoning of Midtown East approved by City Council in 2017. In exchange for higher and denser office buildings, developers must also improve access to transit or paths for pedestrians. One Vanderbilt, on Grand Central’s west side, was one...

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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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A Rotary Converter and the Power Historian History Photos Videos

One of the joys of running this site is getting the chance to meet interesting people. When researching the supposed Nazi sabotage of Grand Central’s sub basement known as M42, I encountered a video on YouTube showing one Robert Lobenstein—identified as the retired General Superintendent of Power Operations at New York City Transit—starting up an old rotary converter. I had seen rotary converters before, the very ones in Grand Central’s M42, in fact. Yet I had never seen one in operation, and the video fascinated me. It was clear that the modern static frequency converters I had encountered on filming...

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Grade Crossing Safety: Metro-North’s New Pilot Program Humor Videos

This morning Metro-North announced a new plan to get people’s eyes focused on grade crossings – literally. In a new pilot program, the railroad will be hiring people to wear costumes and protect grade crossings, reminding drivers not to stop on the tracks, or attempt to go around lowered or lowering crossing gates. Grade crossing incidents have been at the forefront of railroad safety recently, after three high-profile incidents caused major derailments, many injuries, and seven deaths. The three incidents occurred in New York, California, and North Carolina, proving that this is not merely a local problem, but a national...

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