Tag Archives: Transportation History

The Origin and Impact of the Adirondack Northway


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i87When my parents came to the Adirondacks in 1956, they believed they were moving to a place far removed – culturally and politically as well as geographically – from the cities in which they had worked as left-wing journalists.

Beyond the Adirondacks lay “the big world,” as our neighbor Peggy Hamilton called it. (It was a world she was familiar with, having been the companion of Vida Mulholland and, like Vida and her more famous sister Inez, an early advocate of women’s rights.) Continue reading

Walter Smith’s Lifelong Fascination with Railroads


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The Historians LogoThis week on “The Historians” podcast, Reverend Walter Smith of Lisbon in northern New York discusses his lifelong fascination with railroads. Reverend Smith writes the “Reminiscing” column in the Bulletin of the Bridge Line Historical Society, a railroad enthusiast publication that emphasizes the history of the Delaware and Hudson Railroad.
Listen to the podcast here.    Continue reading

A Short History Of The Hudson River Day Line


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the-hudson-river-paddlewheel-towboat-oswegoAbraham Van Santvoord, a descendent of one of the earliest Dutch settlers in Albany, was born in Schenectady on December 18, 1784. At the age of 14, he worked with his granduncle John Post who owned a shipping business in Utica. Since, at the time, there were few roadways, and the ones they had were snow covered in the winter and mud bogs in the spring, most shipping was done by water.

Van Santvoord successfully ran a shipping business on the Mohawk River. During the War of 1812, he contracted with agents of General Stephen Van Rensselaer of Albany to store and ship provisions westward on the Mohawk to support Van Rensselaer’s troops planning to invade Canada. Continue reading

Being A NYC Yellow Cab Driver in the 1960s


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jules-stewart-cab-driverThe afternoon I crashed my Yellow Cab into a fire hydrant in West 17th Street I discovered that Gotham Hospital, where I happened to be born, had long ceased to exist. That was not the hospital blown up by The Joker in The Dark Knight. Mine was quietly shut and bulldozed in the 1960s. But this perhaps helps explain a Batman fixation that endures to this day, the 77th birthday of Gotham’s caped hero. Continue reading

New Book On Buffalo’s Waterfront Grain Elevators


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american chartresBruce Jackson’s new book American Chartres: Buffalo’s Waterfront Grain Elevators (Excelsior Editions. 2016) documents Buffalo’s surviving grain elevators, capturing these monumental buildings in all seasons and in various light; from the Buffalo River, the Ship Canal, and Lake Erie; from inside and from the top floors and roofs; in detail.

Invented in Buffalo by Robert Dunbar and Joseph Dart, the city’s first grain elevator went operational in 1843. By the mid-1850s, Buffalo was the world’s largest grain port, and would remain so well into the twentieth century. Grain elevators made Buffalo rich, and they were largely responsible for the development of the Port of New York. Continue reading

New Book Traces History of NYC Traffic Signals


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nycs-red-and-green-lights-book-coverWhen it comes to traffic signals, most people overlook them, but many are unaware that there is a history behind them.

Steven Gembara’s new book New York City’s Red and Green Lights: a Brief Look Back in Time (FastPencil, 2015) offers a unique perspective on the two-color traffic signal’s existence in the 20th century in New York City and how it helped evolved the city’s streets to what they are in the modern day. Continue reading

Adirondack Rail-Trail Design Process Begins


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NYC Railroad from Lake Clear LodgeA stakeholder process to determine the design and operation of the recreational trail between Lake Placid and Tupper Lake on the Remsen to Lake Placid Travel Corridor has begun, according to New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) Regional Director Bob Stegemann.

The core stakeholder groups consist of the executive elected official or designee of the four towns and three villages along the trail, a representative from the Adirondack Recreational Trail Advocates and representatives from the three primary user groups – cross country skiers, bicyclist and snowmobilers. Continue reading

Aviation History: Air Marking The North Country (Conclusion)


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AMP2A 1951CiceroNYShortly after the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor, it was realized that airmarks could be used by enemy planes, so the order was given to remove 2,500 airmarks that stood within 150 miles of the nation’s coasts. Six weeks later, those marks were obliterated, undoing six years of labor—but shortly after, the blanket order was modified. Why? The absence of airmarks was causing military pilot trainees to become lost. The new order allowed airmarks within 50 miles of flight training airfields.

The national program resumed after the war, with improved methods (including government-supplied plywood templates for lettering) and greater participation, but it’s truly remarkable that despite historic advances in communications and airplanes, the airmark system remained in use into the 1970s.

If you’re old enough to have flown locally back then, you might recall some North Country rooftop markings, some of which are listed below with their year of origin. Most were maintained until the system became outdated. Continue reading