Tag Archives: Jersey City

Tracking the Light hits Half Million Mark.

To celebrate Tracking the Light’s 500,000th click on briansolomon.com I’m posting scan 500000.tif made from one of my father’s Kodachrome slides.

This view of B&O and Reading EMD diesels was exposed on Kodachrome at Central Railroad of New Jersey’s Communipaw engine terminal in Jersey City in the late 1950s

Kodachrome at Communipaw, Jersey City by Richard Jay Solomon-file 500000.tif
Kodachrome converted to jpg.

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A Window Back in Time; Exchange Place.

This is another of my ‘Then and Now’ attempts from last week’s exploration of Jersey City.

As previously mentioned: my fascination with Pennsylvania Railroad’s Jersey City waterfront terminal at Exchange Place, inspired a family trip to look for vestiges in February 1983. This is my window back in time.

Exchange Place in Jersey City as I photographed it with my Leica in February 1983. I'm looking south toward the Colgate-Palmolive Building. About the only thing left of this scene today is the bank building at the left.
Exchange Place in Jersey City as I photographed it with my Leica in February 1983. I’m looking south toward the Colgate-Palmolive Building. About the only thing left of this scene today is the bank building at the left.

Both my dad and I made a few photos. At the time I was trying to get a sense for how things looked decades earlier. (Pop, had made views of PRR MP54s by day and by night at the old terminal, which by 1983 was long gone.)
Fast forward another 32-33 years, and I find that Jersey City has been completely transformed. Most traces of Conrail’s waterfront track have been replaced by modern development, while NJ Transit’s Hudson-Bergen Light Rail now winds through the city.

Working from my 1983 view at Exchange Place, on my recent visit I spent an hour walking around in concentric circles trying to figure out where I’d made the old photo. How hard could this be?

Complicating matters, I’d only been there once, my father was driving, and my memories from this one visit are a bit hazy.

Yes, I remember the day, and I recall making the photos, but how the various locations related to one another remained a bit sketchy. This was especially difficult because today the setting has been so completely changed that many of the landmarks in my old image are gone.

Exchange Place in December 2015: Perhaps after the renovation work on the bank building (at left) has been completed, I’ll come back and make another view.
Exchange Place in December 2015: Perhaps after the renovation work on the bank building (at left) has been completed, I’ll come back and make another view.

I’d all but given up. I went for a spin on the Light Rail, and my way back north towards Hoboken, I recognized the setting for my 1983 image.

Now then, how could I have known that my 1983 Exchange Place view was indeed at today’s NJ Transit Exchange Place light rail station!

The location of the awnings makes the direct recreation complicated. Ideally I'd need to stand back a little further with a 50mm lens perspective to precisely the same view of the bank on the right (as shown in the 1983 view).
The location of the Light Rail awnings makes the direct recreation complicated. Ideally I’d need to stand back a little further using a 50mm lens perspective to precisely recreate  the same view of the bank on the right (as shown in the 1983 view).

Construction on the bank building made for a difficult comparison view, as does the Light Rail’s supporting infrastructure: awnings, ticket machines, catenary poles, etc, which precluded standing in the exact same spot.

Actually, the bank building on the left is just about the only common anchor between my two images. Almost all the other buildings in the 1983, including the Colgate-Palmolive building in the distance, have been replaced by newer structures.

Jersey City P1350781

And, while there are tracks in both views, these are on different alignments and serve entire different purposes.

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NJ Transit Hudson-Bergen Light Rail; My Jersey City Gallery, 8 photos.

I arrived in Jersey City on NJ Transit’s Hudson-Bergen Light Rail a few days ago. While I was checking out some comparative ‘now and then’ locations, I made these photos of the modern cars with my Lumix LX7.

NJT_Hudson_Bergen_light_rail_Harsimus_Cove_P1350295Hudson-Bergen_lightrail_Jersey_City_P1350331Morris_Canal_plaque_P1350329Hudson-Bergen_lightrail_Jersey_City_P1350335Hudson-Bergen_lightrail_Jersey_City_P1350322Hudson-Bergen_lightrail_Jersey_City_P1350316Hudson-Bergen_lightrail_Jersey_City_P1350336Hudson-Bergen_lightrail_Jersey_City_P1350343

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Light Rail in a Ghost Shadow of Terminal Trackage.

  • Sometimes I wonder if I’m living in the wrong century.
  • Lumix LX7 photo at Harboside in Jersey, New Jersey.
    Lumix LX7 photo at Harboside in Jersey, New Jersey.

    On June 26, 2015, I exposed this digital image at Harborside of an NJ Transit light rail train destined for Hoboken.

    Although there’s virtually no evidence today, decades ago this was the site of intensive Pennsylvania Railroad waterfront terminal trackage.

    More than a century ago PRR’s vast arched shed was located at Exchange Place (a few blocks to the south) while the entire area was blanketed with tracks.

    See: http://furnesque.tumblr.com/post/34850191832/jersey-city-ferry-terminal-pennsylvania-railroad

    My father photographed PRR MP54 electrics at Exchange Place in the early 1960s, and I recall watching a Conrail NW2 work freight trackage here in the early 1980s.

    Today, the area is covered in towering office blocks.

    It is similar to modern waterfront development at Dublin’s North Wall but on a larger scale. In Dublin, as in Jersey City, light rail crosses the site of heavy rail trackage against the back-drop of geometric office-block architecture.

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Hudson-Bergen Light Rail.

Seven photos of a reincarnated railway.

NJ Transit’s Hudson-Bergen Light Rail has been on my photo list for more than a decade. It’s one of those things that is close enough to be just out of reach.

When an operation is under threat, time is made—found—to photograph it. You know, before its gone. But when something isn’t going anywhere, its often easy to ignore.

Such was my failings in photographing the Hudson-Bergen Light Rail. Thanks to a detailed tour with Jack May on January 15, 2015, I’ve finally explored of this interesting operation.

Canon EOS 7D photo.
Canon EOS 7D photo.

This simplified map of the system is posted in all of the cars. Canon EOS 7D photo.
This simplified map of the system is posted in all of the cars. Canon EOS 7D photo.

Hoboken terminal, which the light rail serves via  stub-end spur.
Hoboken terminal, which the light rail serves via stub-end spur.

This compact modern passenger railway operates on a selection of former heavy-rail railroad rights of way, including through the old New York, West Shore & Buffalo tunnel at Weekhawken.

The day was ideal; sunny and bright with clear skies. We first rode north from Hoboken to Tonnelle Avenue, then worked our way back south through Jersey City to Bayonne visiting a variety of stations along the way.

All along the line are modern buildings. I was pleased to find that ridership was very good, even during midday. This follows the idiom of: 'Build and they will come.'
All along the line are modern buildings. I was pleased to find that ridership was very good, even during midday. This follows the maxim of: ‘Build and they will come.’

A view looking back toward Weekhawken. As a kid I was fascinated by the Palisades.
A view looking back toward Weekhawken. As a kid I was fascinated by the Palisades.

Much of the route passed through places that I recalled from adventures with my father in the 1970s and early 1980s. The Jersey waterfront was different place back then.

What had been rotting wharves, badly maintained freight trackage, and post-industrial squalor is now all up-scale housing, modern office towers, and otherwise new construction. It was familiar, yet different—like some weird vision of the future.

The 8th Street Station is located at the south end of the system in Bayonne. Canon EOS 7D photo.
The 8th Street Station is located at the south end of the system in Bayonne. Canon EOS 7D photo.

A portion of the line running toward 8th Street runs along the right of way of the old Central Railroad of New Jersey  four track mainline—once the route of the Queen of the Valley, Reading's Crusader, and Baltimore & Ohio's Royal Blue and Capitol Limited. I may have missed all of that, but my father has a few choice photos from those days. Canon EOS 7D photo.
A portion of the line running toward 8th Street usesgthe right of way of the old Central Railroad of New Jersey four track mainline—once the route of the Queen of the Valley, Reading’s Crusader, and Baltimore & Ohio’s Royal Blue and Capitol Limited. I may have missed all of that, but my father has a few choice photos from those days. Canon EOS 7D photo.

In addition to these digital photos made with my Canon EOS 7D, I also exposed many color slides on Provia 100F with my EOS 3 for review at later date.

The Katyn massacre memorial is located near Exchange Place across from lower Manhattan. Many years ago, Pennsylvania Railroad operated an extensive terminal near this very location with a cavernous balloon style shed patterned after London St. Pancras.
The Katyn massacre memorial is located near Exchange Place across from lower Manhattan and a short walk from the light rail line. Many years ago, Pennsylvania Railroad operated an extensive terminal near this location that featured a cavernous balloon style shed patterned after London St. Pancras. My father brought us to the site of the old terminal in the early 1980s-even then there wasn’t much to remind us of the glory days.

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