Reason For Hell Gate Bridge?

Does anyone know the details of why the Hell Gate bridge was touted as a break-through in efficiently and directly connecting the South/Mid-Atlantic states and New England? It runs between Manhattan (Ward's Island) and Long Island (Astoria, Queens). Basically, it connects two islands in NY.  Amtrak route that came up from Florida / Jersey already ran into Manhattan, and from there it's a straight shot up to New England.  So what did this bridge change, given trains going over the Hell Gate bridge do the same thing, except with a detour into Queens? 

Thanks. 

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Original Post

The approach structure passes over the island, the actual touch-down point was in The Bronx, connecting with the New Haven's southern terminus. There was no connection between the PRR and NYC in Manhattan, they entered at right angles to one another.

---PCJ

Hell Gate Bridge was a critical part of PRR's New York Tunnel Extension Project, which included the New York Connecting Railroad. The NY Connecting RR was designed to allow access through Penn Station for passenger trains from the south and west directly to the principal cities of New England and Canada via what is today known as the Northeast Corridor. Fright traffic came mostly by carfloat to Bay Ridge, and from there over Hell Gate bridge.

What Amtrak route are you referring to? Remember that before Penn Station and the Tunnel Extension Project in the first decade of the 20th century, there was no direct connection to Manhattan either over or under the Hudson. Gustav Lindenthal, who designed Hell Gate Bridge, had earlier proposed a huge bridge over the Hudson in 1899, but the Hudson River tunnels prevailed in the final design.

 

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An excellent book about the NY Connecting RR titled "The New York Connecting Railroad: Long Island's Other Railroad" by Robert C. Sturm and William G. Thom was published in 2006 by the National Railway Historical Society (Long Island - Sunrise Trail Chapter)

"It runs between Manhattan (Ward's Island) and Long Island (Astoria, Queens). Basically, it connects two islands in NY."

It runs between the boroughs of The Bronx and Queens. It does not connect two islands.

Arthur P. Bloom TCA 86-23906 "I love the smell of smoke pellets in the morning!"

Not sure of the boroughs' names but the Western bridge abutment is on the S.E. edge of Randal Island and the Eastern Hell Gate bridge abutment is on the N.W. shore line of the Western end of LongIsland.  One very small island, & one very large island. 

In fact one of the normally most accurate contributors to this forum who has helped me greatly,  lives on Long Island.   Guess who.

"Price is what you pay - value is what you get"

Without the Hell Gate, the Northeast Corridor would terminus at Sunnyside, and all passengers going further north would have to take the subway from Penn to Grand Central.  Either that, or trains at Penn would have to go back to New Jersey, then north to Poughkeepsie and across to New England.  A quick look at a map makes it all quite clear.

Jon  

Tom Tee posted:

Not sure of the boroughs' names but the Western bridge abutment is on the S.E. edge of Randal Island and the Eastern Hell Gate bridge abutment is on the N.W. shore line of the Western end of Long Island.  One very small island, & one very large island. 

When I said that the bridge connects The Bronx and Queens, I was thinking of the entire structure, including the very long approaches and the actual bridge.

Arthur P. Bloom TCA 86-23906 "I love the smell of smoke pellets in the morning!"

WB47 -- I may help to compare the detailed map of the east end of Sunnyside Yard with the map posted earlier of the whole NY Connecting RR. The long northbound curve at the upper right of the Sunnyside Yard map connects with the NY Connecting RR tracks to Hell Gate at Sunnyside Junction, while the LIRR tracks that turn southward pass under the NY Connecting RR tracks that go south to Fresh Pond Junction. The loop that is partially shown on the Sunnyside Yard map is the same loop that you can at Sunnyside Yard on the larger-scale NY Connecting RR map.

Arthur P. Bloom posted:
Tom Tee posted:

Not sure of the boroughs' names but the Western bridge abutment is on the S.E. edge of Randal Island and the Eastern Hell Gate bridge abutment is on the N.W. shore line of the Western end of Long Island.  One very small island, & one very large island. 

When I said that the bridge connects The Bronx and Queens, I was thinking of the entire structure, including the very long approaches and the actual bridge.

Right.  As I stated in my OP, it runs between Manhattan (Ward's Island) and Astoria, Queens.  Two islands.  And, of course, it's route traverses into the Bronx in order to go northbound to New England.  

Thanks to others who chimed in to point out how this bridge helped create a more efficient route.  From a pragmatic standpoint, however, I could never understand, growing up in NYC, why it connected with Queens, rather than just connecting the rail that comes down from the Bronx with Manhattan, which would be the actual most direct route to link points South with New England.  

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 The reason was logistics. Coming from the north into Manhattan you had the New York Central, that either went up through manhattan to central NY or up the Hudson river, that terminated in Grand Central. The railroads from the south came into Penn Station via the Hudson River tunnels and there was no access to the north from there. The East River tunnels ended up on Long Island, so the Hell Gate logically tied Long Island to the mainland (Bronx), where trains could run north up along the coast to Boston. Basically the alternate to the Hell Gate would have been building a route connecting Penn Station to the Park Avenue Tunnels the NY Central and New Haven used, then switching over to the east Bronx to pick up tracks that led to New Engla,and that wasn't going to happen, both logistically and that the Penn Railroad was bitter rival of the NYC, plus it would have been a lot more expensive to do that, or worse, build a new tunnel all the way up Manhattan from Penn Station, cross into the Bronx on a new tunnel or bridge, to connect. The Hell Gate Bridge also allowed freight to move after being floated over to Brooklyn and LIC to the Bronx and on to New England as well. 

The person who dies with the best toys dies a happy person

to understand the dynamic of Cassatt's plan for getting the PRR into NY, the railroad's relationship with the LIRR and NYNH and their customer bases, and why the NYCRR was the best option to go north. read the book: 'Conquering Gotham' by Jill Jonnes.

I am John Galt !

Chris

Grand central is dead east of times square, given that it is on 42nd street which is the heart of Times Square (Times Square is 42nd and 7th/broadway, Grand Central is centered where park ave hits 42nd street). 

Basically the answer is the old Maine "you can't get thair from he-ear" kind of thing, Grand central was the domain of the NY Central and the New Haven, Penn Station was Pennsylvania Railroad/LIRR, and there was no connection in Manhattan between them, so a train coming into Penn Station that wanted to go to Boston before Hell Gate didn't really have any options. With Hell gate, a train coming into penn station from the west would continue east under the river to long Island/Queens, then north and over the Hell Gate to the mainland Bronx, where it could go north on the existing rail lines to Boston.

It is kind of ironic, because Penn Station on the west side was near the old NYC rail yards that connected to the NY Central west side lines , in theory they could have connected to the Central there, but I am not sure logistically you could go up the west side line and then get over to the east Bronx and up to Boston. 

The person who dies with the best toys dies a happy person

I'd be lost, bounced off a cab, and bus flattened too, but this is kinda interesting.

I thought the choice simply looks to fill the biggest gap in service they had despite who ran where, nothing went through, then north.

Great excuse to build a nice bridge anyhow.

"Still trying to not shoot my eye out"

 

"Nursing insomnia one railcar at a time"

My aroma therapy? Smoke Pellets.

 





B Smith posted:

Maybe NUMBER 90 really is lost  -- Penn Station, is almost directly south of Times Square, while Grand Central is a little south and east of Times Sq.  

He is indeed.  He knows how to take a cab to Tom's Restaurant somewhere on the upper west side, how to take the subway to Yankee Stadium, and otherwise confines himself to the area between the Broadway theaters and the ferry to Ellis Island.  Beyond those boundaries he is very lost.

However, he was referring to Hell Gate Bridge, not Grand Central Terminal, as north of his NYC comfort zone.  He does know how to get to Grand Central (and the Campbell Apartment).

Tom

 

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PRR Man posted:

to understand the dynamic of Cassatt's plan for getting the PRR into NY, the railroad's relationship with the LIRR and NYNH and their customer bases, and why the NYCRR was the best option to go north. read the book: 'Conquering Gotham' by Jill Jonnes.

Thanks, will do!

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I have read a lot about the actual bridge, and civil engineers estimate that if mankind was wiped out, every other bridge, left without any maintenance, would crumble within the next 50 - 300 years - but the HGB would stand for maybe 1,000 years.  Amazing! 

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