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.

So, when is this "Old enough to know better"  supposed to kick in?

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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best part of all of this....

I live on Long Island. For me to take Amtrak to Boston, I have to go to Penn Station, past Sunnyside yard,  walk across from 7th to 8th Ave., and go back in the same direction, under the east river, that I just came from. I pass the trackage leading to the Hellgate on on the way past Sunnyside. Just put a station at Sunnyside and we'd be good!

PS- not bad getting to see one of the most iconic railroad bridges in America every day

Three Rails Are Better Than None 

Number 90 posted:

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).

 Well, the HGB is actually a bit south of the northernmost reach of your quoted comfort zone. If the line went straight after crossing the bridge instead of curving north, it would intersect Manhattan at around East 114th street (Yankee Stadium is at East 161st street). Yes, the bridge still lies outside your range of roaming, but east of it.

---PCJ, pedantic NYC'er

Joe Hohmann posted:

The bridge is 101 years old. I read that the bridge is so well built, it could last another 200 years with a minimum of upkeep. I go over this bridge about 9 times each year, and I have a hand-built, 3 ft. long, model of it that I bought at York about 6 years ago.

It's been said that, if the human race ceased to exist, it would be the last bridge in Manhattan to fall to the elements. It's estimated it would take about 1,000 years. 700 more than the rest of the bridges scattered around Manhattan Island.

http://discovermagazine.com/20...earth-without-people

You could have a steam train, if you'd just lay down your tracks.

I can never understand why there was not a station somewhere in Queens. It seems like there would be enough traffic so it would be worthwhile. I guess that the main reason is that (1) politics and (2) the PRR did not want Queens - Manhattan commuters to use the train between that station and Penn Station.

Lad Nagurney posted:

I can never understand why there was not a station somewhere in Queens. It seems like there would be enough traffic so it would be worthwhile. I guess that the main reason is that (1) politics and (2) the PRR did not want Queens - Manhattan commuters to use the train between that station and Penn Station.

There are stations in Queens with Long Island City and Hunterspoint Avenue as prime examples although service does not continue under the East River into Manhattan. I'm sure you know these stations are served by the Long Island Rail Road (which was a PRR owned subsidiary for many years) which is what commuters use to Manhattan while intercity travelers rode the PRR/NH to Boston. Also take into account the New York City subway which runs from Queens to Manhattan - and their fares are lower than that of the LIRR which is another reason. The subway's #7 line is very close to Hunterspoint Avenue so one could make a connection there or at Woodside (if coming from points east on LI). Also factor in the area around the East River tunnels and Sunnyside is used by Amtrak and NJ Transit trains deadheading into/out of NY Penn to access Sunnyside Yard which adds to the congestion. You also have Kew Gardens, Forest Hills, Jamaica plus the aforementioned Woodside on the LIRR main line - all of these stations are in Queens borough and there are a few others such as Hollis, Queens Village, etc.   I'm sure the LIRR has a fair share of Queens-Manhattan commuters to this day.

Before the completion of the Hudson River tunnels by the Pennsylvania Railroad in 1910, a train traveler between Washington, DC and Boston arrived at Exchange Place in Jersey City, New Jersey and then had to take a ferry across the Hudson River to the West Side of Manhattan Island on 34th Street. Service from New York City to Boston was operated by the New Haven Railroad whose trains ran out of Grand Central (Station) Terminal at 42nd Street and Park Avenue. Thus, after arriving in Manhattan, a traveler had to get from 34th Street (on the West Side) to 42nd Street (on the East Side) in order to board a New Haven Railroad train for Boston. The Hudson River Tunnels were completed in 1910 and Pennsylvania Station, on 32nd Street, opened in 1911, thereby eliminating the ferry trip across the Hudson River, but a surface trip still was necessary to get to Grand Central Station for the trip to Boston. Sunnyside Yard (East of Manhattan) in Queens (on Long Island) was built to serve as a yard facility for PRR Penn Station passenger trains and required construction of tunnels under the East River (also completed in 1910) between Manhattan and Queens. The yard was located in Queens in part because it was impractical to obtain land for such a large yard in Manhattan. The New York Connecting Railroad, a joint venture of the PRR and New Haven Railroads, was incorporated in 1892 and completed in 1917 between Sunnyside Yard and Oak Point in the Bronx, New York (on the New Haven Railroad) via the Hell Gate Bridge, thus serving as a bridge line between the PRR and NYNH&HRR and creating a direct trip for passengers traversing New York City on their way to New England and Boston. The NY Connecting Railroad and Hell Gate Bridge also provided a more efficient route for freight traffic from New Jersey (through Bay Ridge, in Brooklyn, NY via car-floats) to New England. The Hudson River Tunnels, the East River Tunnels, and Hell Gate Bridge today are part of Amtrak’s Northeast Corridor and are a vital transportation link on which a significant part of the Nation’s economy is dependent. The tunnels are aging, deteriorating, and new ones need to be built. It was reported today that New York and New Jersey have agreed on funding (with the Federal Government) that would allow construction to begin in 2018.

MELGAR

MELGAR_HELL_GATE_BRIDGE_2017

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