Posts Tagged ‘transit in NYC’

The yellow trolley cars of Columbus Circle

September 12, 2016

In the 1930s, New York was still a city of trolley cars—like the yellow trolleys whizzing (or lumbering?) through Columbus Circle in this 1931 postcard.

columbuscirclepostcard1

By 1956, the last Brooklyn trolley lines bit the dust, victims of the popularity and ease of cars and buses as well as the difficulty of maintaining tracks on city streets.

But this postcard freezes the New York trolley in time, with embedded metal rails crisscrossing one of Manhattan’s few traffic circles.

Looking east, we’re at the doorstep of Central Park, and steps away from the wealth and glamour of then-new hotels like the Pierre and Sherry-Netherland on Fifth Avenue.

Would you take this train to Coney Island?

November 10, 2010

Inventor Eben Boynton hoped you would; he tried to improve current railroad trains and came up with this thin, monorail-riding train design.

Called the Boynton Bicycle Railroad (for the single rail on the bottom and then second rail on top), Boynton first demonstrated his steam-powered train on tracks at Coney Island in the 1890s, shuttling passengers on the abandoned Sea Beach and Brighton tracks.

The BBR got a lot of attention, and it did manage to exceed speeds of 60 miles an hour.

Still, Boynton was never able to attract investors to his project, which could have set a precedent so all trains and even subway cars ran on a top and bottom rail (and were four feet across).

Boynton is the namesake of tiny Boynton Place, between West 8th Street and Avenue X, the location of the BBR demo.