Virtual Travel – New York

Welcome to the Empire State – New York. While there is some doubt as to where the nickname came from, most attribute it to a comment from a George Washington letter to New York City mayor James Duane where he referred to it as ‘The Seat of the Empire’.

While the state is dominated by New York City, the capital is Albany. The entire center of the city is known as the Empire State Plaza, and is surrounded by government buildings.

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Unique State Symbols

State Beverage – Milk. The state ranks 3rd in the amount of milk produced. (photos from


State Muffin – Yes, we have another state muffin, the Apple Muffin. As you may recall we featured the blueberry muffin of Minnesota, however I missed the Massachusetts state muffin – corn muffin.

New York also has a state snack – yogurt. The state is the leading producer of yogurt, likely as an offshoot of that dairy business.


While most states have a slogan – New York’s is ‘official’

2018: Summer of I LOVE NEW YORK | Empire State Development



Highlights of the State

1947     1975     2004     2005/2009/2011     2006



While all the maps on these postings have been road maps, transit in New York is much more. New York City has a long subway history that is celebrated at the Transit Museum in downtown Brooklyn.



If you are lucky enough you can get a tour of the vacant, but fantastic City Hall Station in Manhattan. This was one of the original stations, but because the platform is curved when they introduced new, longer trains in the 1940s it became obsolete.



New York has a plethora of great bridges – including the Verrazzano Narrows Bridge (top row). Other bridge featured below include the Rainbow Bridge in Niagara Falls, the Thousand Islands Bridge, the South Grand Island Bridge near Buffalo, and of course the Brooklyn Bridge.



No trip to New York City can be complete without admiring, and photographing the great architecture.



Back upstate is the Watkins Glen Racetrack. This legendary track hosted the U.S. Grand Prix for 20 years, and has continued to host racing for over 60 years.





Beyond the City

1982     1987/2011 Boldt Castle     1989     2009 Fire Island Lighthouse     2013     2017 Whihteface Castle – Lake Placid



Long Island – Land of endless suburbs and massive estates, Long Island’s most famous residence is likely Sagamore Hill. This was President Theodore Roosevelt’s home.

But there are many more estates, thanks to the ultra rich looking to have country homes outside the city.



When most people refer to Long Island they think the area beyond Queens, but the reality is both Brooklyn and Queens are on Long Island – making it one of the most populated islands in the world with over 7 million people.



Woodstock – Well technically it is nowhere close to the actual town of Woodstock, it is near Bethel since Woodstock. The festival, with 400,000 spectators, took place on Max Yasgurs farm in 1969. Today the site has an amphitheater, arts center and museum.



Back to Watkins Glen – only this time to the actual Glen. This picturesque park and gorge is just at the edge of town.



Niagara Falls and other great tourist attractions of the state.

1985     2016



Niagara Falls – One of the world’s greatest waterfalls.

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Buffalo – Just upriver from Niagara Falls. This once great industrial city has some great relics like the Buffalo Central Station (bottom photos).



Western New York is home to a number of Frank Lloyd Wright design structures. The Martin House is featured in the top photos, the boathouse on the left middle was from a FLW design. The gas station on the middle right is in Pierce Arrow Museum, and finally the lower house is Graycliff, located along the shores of Lake Erie south of the city.



New York City has a number of major tourist attractions. Featured here is Times Square, Citi Field, Yankee Stadium, The High Line, Radio City and others.



Public Art abounds in the city. My favorite is the collection from Tom Otterness located in the 8th Avenue/14th Street subway station.



Public Art is scattered throughout the city. While we could go on for a long time on great sights of New York, we will end here.








New York City – June 2019 – Sit Down or Hang On

A slang for someone who rides the subway a lot is a ‘strap hanger’. The term comes from the early days where there were actual straps that the standing passengers held onto.

This posting illustrates the history of New York City Subway cars and the changes in the seats, and ‘straps’.

Only the very oldest cars have the cloth straps! In addition this BMT Q car has rattan seats that are very cool.

Very early on the cloth straps were replaced with metal ones.

The next version has already moved to the metal bars. I am certain the straps wore out quickly, whereas the bars last forever.

Our next version loses the rattan seats, replaced with these stylish green and yellow stripes. The bars have also evolved to be much larger, so more people can hang on while standing.

This is an IRT R-12 car dating from 1948.

On the IRT R-15 car the bench seating continues, only in solid red, while the bars are still large and protruding. This car dates from 1950.

The first plastic seats make an appearance on an R42. This type of car was most famously used in the 1971 movie The French Connection, where the good guy is in a car chasing the bad guy who stole a train.

Time to board our next car – the ‘straps’ have returned! This car is a R33 ‘World’s Fair’ car, so named as it was released in 1963, the same year the city hosted the World’s Fair.

The last of the straight bench seating makes an appearance.

As we move closer to the modern design, randomized seating.

Finally by the 1970s it looks essentially the same as today’s cars. Not nearly as elegant as the cloth straps and wicker seats, but far more functional and durable.

Time to hang out on the benches in the station and reflect on the changes of the subway over the last 100 years.

New York City – September 2018 – Abandoned Subway Station Tour

According to the New York MTA documentation there are 472 subway stations throughout the city. Over the years a few have been abandoned for various reasons.

Easily the most famous of those abandoned stations is the former City Hall station. Since 1945 it has sat unused in the loop at the end of the 6 train.

On rare occasions the New York Transmit Museum offers tours of this station. Tickets are hard to get and available to members only (I had a good friend who came through for me!)

We went to the current nearest station (also known as City Hall) and boarded a 6 train that went a short distance before stopping to let us off. The crowd was excited.

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The station itself was the masterpiece of the system when it opened on October 27, 1904. It was the first station to open on the first line.

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The station has a single platform that is curved. This curve eventually lead to the closing in 1945 as the newer cars were longer and made the gap between the cars and the station too wide.

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The arched ceilings and tile work make what the Transit Museum refers to as the ‘Jewel in the Crown’ of the entire subway system.

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As with all subway stations the station name is a mosaic. While plain compared to some the tile work around it adds to the overall feel of the station.

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There are numerous skylights in the station. We had a night time visit so the ambient light from outside was minimal, but it too added to the aura of the tour.

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The mezzanine shown here (and the featured image of this posting) is amazing.

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The huge mosaic at the top is also a skylight, although for this tour there was no light from above.

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Back down on the platform the simple, yet elegant chandeliers provided dim lighting that accented the arched ceilings.

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The station is nearly intact, but some of the skylights need some work. Still the view of the ceilings and the curved platform is stunning.

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The primary station sign from the platform to the mezzanine level. Imagine the excitement in 1904 arriving and seeing this entrance to the station.

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There were 40 people on the tour so it was tough not having people in the photo (or getting into other people’s photos).

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A view from the mezzanine to the platform.

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A closeup of the platform ceiling and chandeliers. While we were there the 6 trains kept slowly rolling through their loop, their wheels screeching loudly on the sharp curve.

One not so hidden secret for the non paying tourists is to stay on the 6 train at the end and check out the station as the train makes it’s loop. Supposedly conductors will sometime allow this – the guides say do it on a bright sunny day so there is some light from the skylights.

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There are a few plaques commemorating the opening of the subway system.

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A close up view of the arched ceiling tile work.

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A close up view of the City Hall station sign mosaic and a skylight.

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The view down the platform into the tunnel with an oncoming train.

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Clearly I couldn’t get enough shots of the curved platform and ceiling. The style is known as a Guastavino Vault – the tile arch system using self supported arches and architectural vaults with interlocking terracotta tiles and layers of mortar.

It is named for Rafael Guastavino who immigrated to New York in 1881 from Barcelona. His work, and others in this style grace numerous buildings throughout New York City and beyond, including the Ellis Island Great Hall.

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Another view of a train rolling through with the arches and skylights (darkened). With no passengers they looked like ghost trains.

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One last look at the mezzanine level.

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And it was time to leave. Even this was amusing as our tour was holding up the entire 6 line as they stopped, set out a ramp to cover the gap and herded us on as fast as possible, with the people not wanting to leave.

Eventually we relented, and we left this fabulous place.

I feel fortunate to have had this opportunity – thanks to a good friend and the Transit Museum.

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Brooklyn – May 2018 – Subway Mosaics

The New York Transit Museum hosted a talk and book signing with Phil Coppolla who for the last 40 years has gone around the subway system sketching the mosaic signs and artwork that is omnipresent throughout the system.


After a film maker showed a 22 minute film on Phil they had a panel discussion.

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As we left we passed a great example in a nearby station.

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The next day at Grand Central Terminal where the Museum has a store and small gallery. They were featuring Phil’s work, including a number of his original sketch books.

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Also included are some of the artwork. Astor Place is named for John Jacob Astor, who was one of America’s first millionaires in the early 1800s. He made his first fortune on furs, hence the beaver sculpture.

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One of the original 33rd Street pieces.

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Phil had very detailed sketches for each one.

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After viewing the exhibit you will find yourself looking at the stations in a different light, actively seeking out the artwork.

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