1930s Brooklyn Trolley Map

The above map shows just how connected Brooklyn used to be via a system of streetcars. The Brooklyn Historic Railway Association’s Bob Diamond explained to us this morning, “The streetcar routes (solid lines on map) were shut down in stages from 1930 through 1956. The dashed lines were electric bus routes, which feed the streetcar lines, which in turn fed the subway system. It was called an all electric integrated urban transit system.”

The trolley system in New York City has a long and complicated story, and it’s not just us—this extends all the way to Los Angeles. In 1987, 60 Minutes addressed the entire U.S. streetcar industry, and its eventual destruction. Thanks, General Motors!

According to Diamond, here’s the gist of what went down: “In the mid 1920s General Motors, Standard Oil, and Firestone Tires—noticing that the privately held, long term electric streetcar franchises all around the U.S. were up for renewal—wanted to expand their business opportunities by forming a holding company called National City Lines. Using every form of legal and illegal tactics, such as murder, blackmail, and the bribing of elected officials, NCL gained control over forty Streetcar companies around the U.S.

“Their very first victim, was Manhattan’s NY Railways, the operator of that borough’s profitable electric streetcar system. In a pattern to be repeated all around the U.S., NCL gained control of the streetcar franchise by bribing elected officials, and immediately ripped out the tracks, wires, and streetcars, replacing them with General Motors buses, burning Standard Oil gasoline, and rolling on Firestone Tires.”

(via Dan Beaver-seitz)

Stanley Kubrick’s Underground NYC

In 1946, Stanley Kubrick, then aged only 18, took these photographs of the New York Subway and had them published by LOOK magazine.  He photographed for the magazine from 1945 to 1950.

According to Helen O’Brian, head of LOOK’s photographic department, Kubrick generated the highest number of published articles of any photographer she had worked with. At the time, Kubrick was the youngest photographer LOOK had had on its books.

(via Mashable & Drew)

Subway’s 110th Anniversary

To commemorate the 110th anniversary of the New York subway, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority brought back vintage train cars, giving the public a unique commuting experience.

Two vintage trains were brought back—the “Low-Voltage” train and the “Train of Many Colors”—both of which were used in the 60s until 2001.

(via Flickr)

Carv-a-que: Time Lapse

For the last four years, I’ve been having a pumpkin carving barbecue (appropriately called the “carv-a-que”) at my place in Hoboken. Last year we created a time lapse video of the party. This year we had about 30 carvers and decided to reprise the recording. Below is the result.


Remembering 9/11

I’d debated putting this post up for a long time. In fact, for the last decade, I was convinced that it had no place in a personal blog. Any reference to those terrible events, commingled with announcements of my studio‘s successes and incessant ramblings about the decline of customer service, just seemed to be a flagrant rodomontade more than a eulogy. In light of the barrage of articles commemorating the ten-year anniversary of the tragedy, the shameful exposure of Vincent Forres and the 9/11 profiteers, and the revelation that I now have a 19% increased chance of developing cancer, I’d begun to re-evaluate this position.

This week, I shared my concern of cancer to a dear friend, a friend that I’ve known since 2003, and he was surprised to hear that I even volunteered.  To someone with whom I share almost everything, it seemed equally surprising to me that I hadn’t mentioned it either. Maybe you should write something, he said. His suggestion was probably prompted by the concern for why I’ve remained silent for the last decade. And my understanding of this is ultimately what has lead to this post. Read more