Way back in the day, before third rail electrification was the rule, compact steam locomotives worked trains on New York’s elevated railways.
Most of the original Els are long gone, and many of today’s elevated structures spanning streets in The Bronx, Brooklyn, and Queens stem from the electrified era.
Nearly forgotten are the Manhattan Els, all of which were torn down decades ago.
Old postcards survive that show the way things were.
In June, I made these photographs of the elevated structure that survives above the streets at Broadway and Marcy Avenue in Brooklyn. I find it astounding that when Els were more common, they were decried as ‘ugly.’ Simply bizarre.
The far-end of this well-known Subway route was among the lines we explored on our epic June 25, 2015 tour of New York City rail-transit.Jack May, Walter Zullig, my father and I, walked from the Long Island Rail Road station at Far Rockaway to the nearby New York City Subway station (located on an elevated structure).
At one time this had all been part of the same route, but now there’s several blocks between rail-heads.
Elaborately decorated glass bricks are a feature of the stations on the A Train route.
As we rolled westward, my father recalled visiting Rockaway Beach decades earlier when there were rows of beach-side bungalows and city streets.
Once west of the Far Rockaway the scene changes.We got off at 44th Street and took a look around.
Much of Rockaway beach seems devoid of structures, with old streets vanishing into the encroaching sand. The Bungalows are just a memory. Yet, massive multistory apartments loom in the distance above the railway structure, like something out of a doomsday film.
It’s a strange place to be. And a stranger place to make photos. This is not the New York City visited by most tourists! Yet the A train continues to JFK Airport and beyond to lower Manhattan and ultimately up-town.
How long, I wonder, would it take to ride from one end to the other?
A large portion of the New York City ‘Subway’ is elevated above street level. On June 25, 2015, my dad, Jack May, Walter Zullig and I took a whirlwind tour of New York City rail transit, during which I made dozens of photos from myriad locations.
New York City’s rail transit, including the subway, is undoubtedly one of the most visually complex transportation systems in North America, and presents endlesspossibilities for photography.
I’ll plan a series of posts featuring photos from this trip over the coming weeks.