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Author Topic: Hyde Park and Long Island
mgt
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In the second week of July my wife and I will be in New York. She would like to see something of Long Island and I would like to visit the Roosevelt home.
Has anyone had experience of the National Park shuttle service from Poughkeepsie Metro North station? How reliable is it?
Our hotel is adjacent to the abominable Penn station, so handy for LIRR. What would be a feasible day outing. I am an admirer of Robert Caro's work, both the as yet unfinished LBJ biography and his volume on Robert Moses. Would any of Moses' Long Island developments be accessible by train?
The High Line Park and Tenement Museum are also on this year's schedule.
After New York it is, weather permitting, The Crescent to New Orleans, the same route back to Atlanta where we rendezvous with our US friend, three days in Savannah and then ten days of touring, maybe touching on Charleston, Greenville, Knoxville, Memphis and Chattanooga, returning to the UK from Atlanta.
After 12 months of unmitigated cold and rain we should be guaranteed some sunshine and warmth in the US!

Posts: 168 | From: uk. northumberland | Registered: Jun 2007  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Ocala Mike
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quote:
Originally posted by mgt:


Would any of Moses' Long Island developments be accessible by train?



Robert Moses and trains in the same sentence? Heresy! I worked during the 70's for the Jones Beach State Parkway Authority on Long Island, one of his creations, and had access to Moses' archives. He was almost single-handedly responsible for the Long Island state park and parkkway system, but rail transportation was not part of his vision.

If I were you, I might consider focusing on the "other Roosevelt" and visiting Sagamore Hill in Oyster Bay, reachable by the LIRR. Enjoy your trip!

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Ocala Mike

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Ocala Mike
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Felt obliged to add this. If you happen to be on an Amtrak train heading up to Boston you will traverse the Hell Gate railroad bridge adjacent to the Triborough Bridge, one of Moses' developments. He had his office in a little building on Randall's Island under the bridge, I understand. Here is a great link about him:

http://www.aresluna.org/stories/in-the-footsteps-of-robert-moses/

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Ocala Mike

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dilly
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New Orleans, Atlanta, Savannah, Charleston, Greenville, Knoxville, Memphis, and Chattanooga. . .

In July, the tropical heat and overwhelming humidity in these cities may give you considerably more "warmth" than you've bargained for.

Wear a hat. Stay fully hydrated. And try to avoid being outdoors for long stretches between noon and 4PM. If you're not accustomed to the climate, it can be dangerous.

As for the despicable (and notoriously anti-passenger rail) Robert Moses. . . There's not much to see, apart from the suburban highways and beaches he "masterminded" on Long Island, and (in New York City) more highways, grim public housing towers, and neighborhood parks that are nothing more than iron-barred concrete holding pens for kids.

Stick with Robert Caro's book. Seeing the "Moses Legacy" in person is infuriating. And totally depressing.

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palmland
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Summer in the south isn't very pleasant. While New Orleans is our favorite - not in July. But then if this is your only chance, go for it.

Certainly Charleston and Savannah (with attractive Beaufort in between) are must sees, I'd skip other cities and head for the mountains. If you like Roosevelt's home, you should love Vanderbilt's Biltmore estate in Asheville, NC - and it's aN interesting city. And Asheville is on the interstate headed for Knoxville.

Between those points you might want to linger in the Smoky Mountains, it's cool, scenic -if a bit overrun with those escaping the heat in the summer.

Chattanooga is one of my favorite cities. A city that has been 'reborn' as a tourist spot. If you're interested in rail, stay at the former train station -Chattanooga Choo Choo Hotel. Lots to do there -Aquarium, Rock City, Ruby Falls, and the excellent Tennessee Valley Railroad Museum - with daily short steam rides.

Skip Atlanta altogether - it's hot and traffic is horrible. If you must, they do have some good museums downtown and major league baseball if the Braves are in town. But, you can drive from Chattanooga to the Atlanta airport in about 2 hours - however allow another hour because its Atlanta.

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Gilbert B Norman
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quote:
Originally posted by palmland:
Skip Atlanta altogether - it's hot and traffic is horrible. If you must, they do have some good museums downtown and major league baseball if the Braves are in town. But, you can drive from Chattanooga to the Atlanta airport in about 2 hours - however allow another hour because it's Atlanta. [/QB]

Be sure to remember, asking me, Atlanta has the "world's worst drivers".

I go down there every year - and drive: I survive because I'm cautious. For the reasons noted by Mr. Palmland do not go there during July and August.

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Jerome Nicholson
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Not only was Robert Moses anti - rail, he was anti - public transit of any kind. He deliberately made the overpasses on the Jones Beach Expressway too low for buses to pass under. But for all his car - centered projects, he never himself learned how to drive.
If you're going to the great Smoky Mountains you might consider staying in Pigeon Forge or Seiverville rather than Knoxville.

I really hope you keep in touch with us; I'd like to know how you fared being a Brit experiencing our Southern summers!

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Ocala Mike
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quote:
Originally posted by Jerome Nicholson:


He deliberately made the overpasses on the Jones Beach Expressway too low for buses to pass under.


Not only that, Jerome, but the parkways were designed by him with wooden guardrails to preserve that "rustic" quality. I worked in the Legal Department at the Parkway Authority, and we had numerous claims filed against us from people who suffered horrific injuries as a result of the rail splintering after impact. Things didn't change until the late 70's when the State Department of Transportation took over and changed everything to metal rails.
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Tanner929
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Are you staying at the Pennsylvania Hotel? A once grand hotel that has unfortunately deteriorated as the rail station did the same. You know you could do a Roosevelt Doubleheader, Teddy Roosevelt's Sagamore Hill Home on Long Island about 3 miles from the Oyster Bay LIRR Station. Does seem to be under renovation so just the grounds.

Yes, Moses was the epitome of absolute power corrupts. In New York the MTA museum in Brooklyn is fun. Not sure if they still do it but there is a tour of Penn Station, I know Grand Central has numerous tours.

Just got back from Charleston, great trolley system to get around the city and see the sites. And its free!

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Gilbert B Norman
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All of this Moses hating around here is moving the discussion away from the originator's intent (ain't that called hijacking, volks?).

Here is a site that certainly stokes the anti-mass transit views held regarding RM:

http://www.ominousweather.com/RobertMoses.html

But how about a little balance in our lives?

http://www.pbs.org/wnet/need-to-know/environment/the-legacy-of-robert-moses/16018/

Here is The Times obit of RM:

http://www.nytimes.com/learning/general/onthisday/bday/1218.html

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mgt
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Thanks Mr Norman; this often happens on this site!But I am appreciating the correspondence on Moses. I've been fascinated by him ever since I read Caro's biography. I found Mike's illustrated link very illuminating.
Sagamore Hill does seem to be under redevelopment at present and there are financial restrictions in place at Val-Kill, but both are certainly possibilities.
We have experienced uncomfortable heat in the south-west and even Washington, but we are anticipating uncomfortable humidity this year.
A gathering in Atlanta is the reason for this year's visit and it would be stupid not to make as much use of the opportunity as possible, in view of the costs of reaching the US.

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Ocala Mike
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quote:
Originally posted by mgt:


I found Mike's illustrated link very illuminating.


If you think that was illuminating, you should have seen the files he left behind at the Long Island Park Commission headquarters in Babylon, NY. Sketches, books, photos, engineering drawings, models, etc. During the mid-late 70's, the Long Island parks, which were Moses' creations, were being assimilated into the NY State park system. All of the people that were identified as Moses' people were "encouraged" to leave, including my boss, as hacks from Albany came down to take over. I was ordered by one of those hacks to destroy all of Moses' archives, but refused. Needless to say, I soon found myself working for another department (best thing that ever happened to me career-wise). I wonder to this day if any of the material was saved because it should have been.

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Ocala Mike

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mgt
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Sorry not to have been touch sooner. daughter's wedding, incompetent roofers and house decoration have filled my time since our return in mid-August. The wedding was a most pleasant occasion and the roof is now fixed, as far as we can tell!
We also celebrated my sister-in-law's birthday with a trip on the Thames in one of the survivor's of the Dunkirk evacuation. That was also an excuse for a long weekend in London and a visit to the London Transport Museum, where there is/was a splendid exhibition of transport posters.
The holiday in the South was a great success and the weather not as oppresive as we had feared, perhaps due to the exceedingly wet summer? in New Orleans it seemed to be hottest around 5.00p.m.
Of railway interest were the museum in Duluth, just north-east of Atlanta; very enthusiastic staff, an eclectic collection of rolling-stock, including the sleeping car in which President Harding's body was transported and a Duplex sleeper. Seeing the latter answered many of my queries about this vehicle; it was quite an ingenious piece of equipment. The museum also has an excellent indoor section with displays of uniforms and dining car crockery. The railway museum in Savannah is also well worth a visit; again very knowledgeable staff and a wide-ranging selection of buildings and vehicles, including a car from the days of segregation which is under reconstruction. They also have a working turntable.
After one of the spectacular thunderstorms we seem to encounter on each visit to the US, this time in Charleston harbour, we headed for the hills and, via Columbia and its converted railway station, reached Ashville. Here too there is evidence of some existing railroad activity; on one map I seem to recall Ashville as lying on the route of the Crescent, but I am sure that cannot have been the case.
Chattanooga has such a wonderful natural setting and seems to have re-invented itself from the industrial centre it once was; as of course have so many of Britain's towns, Newcastle included. We took the TVR excursion to Chickamauga, which included lunch in a very pleasant dining-war, and a commentary by the excellent Jonathan on the background to the battle. Although there was no doubt about where his sympathies lay his mini-lecture at the site of the battle displayed a breadth of knowledge, power of analysis, but above all an empathy for the soldiers of both sides.
We were certainly struck by how much the "recent unpleasantness" still features quite prominently in the States we visited. While dining communally at Mrs Wicke's in Savannah one lady commented that she "sympathised with the Scots, as you too are fighting for your freedom". (I am a Scot).
I am sure I have overlooked certain events, including the excellent food and local beers, but felt I owed some response to all of you who helped to make the visit so enjoyable.
Today I booked our bedroom on the Zephyr from Denver to Emeryville on the weekend of July 4th; that will be our first time in the US on Independence. This probably my wife's favourite Amtrak route; I hope there ere no plans to route us northwards!

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Geoff Mayo
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Glad you enjoyed your trip, and thanks for the report.

Only one comment: yes the local beers have certainly improved since my first visit to the US in 1995. You still have to search for them but decent beers can still be had in an ever increasing number of places alongside the staple gnats' pee.

(Phase 2 of the British Invasion would be cider (known as hard cider to differentiate from the non-cider called... cider) - and I don't mean Bulmers but properly pressed apples)

Actually I would be envious of a Wyoming detour on the Zephyr as I'm led to believe it is equally interesting if not as dramatic scenery-wise. But then I've done the Zephyr thrice now.

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Geoff M.

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George Harris
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No, Asheville was not on the route of the Crescent.It was the terminal point of the Asheville Special which was in its later years combined with the Crescent north of Greensboro NC. It was a quite nice train with a through sleeper out of New York. The other trains through there were the Carolina Special which ran between Cincinatti and Charleston SC. It traveled over the Saluda grade between Asheville and Spartanburg. There was also a section of it or a connection to it originating at Asheville that ran east. Up until the late 50's there was a through overnight train to Jacksonville. Needless to say, thanks to the terrain none of these trains set any speed records. In fact, one of the nicknames for the Carolina Special was the Carolina Creeper.

During the same time frame, early to mid 1960's, as the rebuilding and clearance work on the CNO&TP (that is the Cincinatti to Chattanooga main) there was a general push toward clearance improvements on the Southern throughout that included these lines. The thought was to get the crown line to be 30 feet above top of the rail so that there would never be any need to do clearance improvements again, and I suspect even allowing room for electrification over high freight. (Contrast that with the policies of many others, including the enlargements for double stacks going on now to go for just barely and then needing to go through the process several times.) Therefore you could see double stacks and other high clearance cars going through Asheville that would seem really out of place in such mountainous territory.

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George Harris
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As to your impression of the continued sectional feelings, there are still national laws on the books that are written in such a way that they apply only to the Southeastern states. Many of us have family stories of what happened during and after that time. I will quit there.
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sojourner
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Actually, Geoff, IMO and the Zephyr re-route thru Wyoming is nowhere as scenic as the usual route through the Rockies.
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palmland
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Mgt- sounds like you had a great time and hit all the RR hotspots in my part of the world, except for the NC Transportation Museum in Salisbury/Spencer, NC. Highly recommend it on your next visit. It will be the home for the restoration of 611 , N&W's famous J class steam locomotive. It will also host a gathering this spring of all streamlined era (mostly EMD F and E type) locomotives that are still operable and can make the trip.

I see you stopped for a meal in Columbia at one of the converted train stations. We are very fortunate to have two stations turned restaurant: the former Seaboard station is the Blue Marlin and the Southern is Calfornia Dreamin'. Both very good. Too bad Amtrak doesn't still use one one of them rather than the prefab one a few block away.

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Geoff Mayo
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quote:
Originally posted by sojourner:
Actually, Geoff, IMO and the Zephyr re-route thru Wyoming is nowhere as scenic as the usual route through the Rockies.

I didn't say it was - "if not as dramatic scenery-wise" were the words I used! My point was that I've been there, done that, and an alternative would be interesting.

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Geoff M.

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mgt
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I first encountered US "cider" several years ago in the orchard area north of Placerville and was initially surprised to see children drinking it. I hope US visitors to the UK, particularly the south-western counties, are aware of how potent our cider can be, particularly when drunk in a pleasant beer-garden on a muggy, soporific afternoon!
I did not mention the New York leg of last year's visit. This was enhanced by following Russell Marvin's itinerary for an excursion from Penn Station to Port Jefferson, via Hicksville and then ferry to Bridgeport and on to Grand Central. For this I was most grateful. Penn Station between 8.30 and 9.10 am is a veritable Bedlam, with the heaving crowds and the raucous imprecations of the free newspaper suppliers. It must be our least favourite large US station at the best of times. I agree with Palmland's comment about Amtrak's non-use of existing station facilities; presumably that is a matter of economics and logistics. I noticed how run-down several of the stations were between Chicago and Omaha, not least the one in Omaha, where of course there is a fairly lengthy service stop late at night. Birmingham, last year, was also very depressing. On the other hand, King Street, Seattle, seems to have undergone more than just a face-lift and it will be interesting to see what Union Station, Denver is like this year. Will the work there have been completed by July?
two additional highlights of NY were a visit to the Tenement Museum, where again we were struck by the enthusiasm and knowledge of the guide. I do not know if we have just been fortunate in museum guides and National Park staff but we have encountered very few duds in the US.
Then there was the High Line; what an excellent example of urban regeneration. Because of my carelessness in reading the guidebook I had assumed the north-west extension to West 34th Street was already open. However, although not the most scenic walk, it did allow us to see what the current, open section, had been like, and the amount of work required to bring it back to life. It also gave us the opportunity to look into the US Parcel Post Building, where there was no objection to taing pictures. Are there still plans to use it as the Amtrak section of Penn?
The walk on the High Line itself affords wonderful views of the NY skyline, and onto the Hudson. There is a wide variety of plants, tended by enthusiastic volunteers, there is still considerable evidence of the railway line itself and should it become too hot, there are running water features and a converted warehouse which provides shade. Refreshments and information booths are also available.
I just hope this year's visit to Denver, San Francisco and Los Angeles will be as enjoyable. For the first time we will be spending a week in LA, based in an apartment near the Avenue of the Stars and West Olympic Boulevard.

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