New York City Transit Museum

New York City Transit Museum

NYC Subway Museum Historic Ads - Sept 2011 - 8

I always try to find time to visit the NY City Transit museum when I visit New York. One of the things I love are the historic advertisements that are in the old subway cars parked in the museum. This is a particularly fun one I think. The accompanying text says “Bet you do better in a hat!” and states that “84 out of 100 women prefer men who wear hats.”

While at the museum I bought the book Helvetica and the New York Subway System: The True (Maybe) Story by Paul Shaw. I finished reading it before Christmas and it’s really interesting – you’ll never look at a NYC Subway sign the same way again! (Here’s a link to a similar article he wrote on the internet – Paul Shaw, The (Mostly) True Story of Helvetica and the NY City Subway).

NYC Subway Museum Cars Sept 2011 - 7

And, one final photo of a mosaic from the Cortlandt Street IRT Subway Station (also in the Transit Museum collection). All my photos of the NYC Transit Museum on Flickr.

Vienna Tram Day 2011

Vienna Tram Day 2011

Tram Day Vienna 2011 - Vienna Tram Museum

Tram Day Vienna 2011 – Vienna Tram Museum

Vienna’s annual Tram Day celebration was held at the Tram Museum this past September. It’s always a great party with lots to see and do. This year was great because the Tram Museum was open for free! Lots of historic vehicles and exhibits on some of the new things Vienna’s public transport company (Wiener Linien) is doing to improve service.

Historic advertisement providing advice to customers, Vienna Tram Museum (2011).

Historic advertisement providing advice to customers, Vienna Tram Museum (2011).

I especially liked the historic advertisement about why the conductor cannot open the door once it has been closed (right) – it even rhymes!

There was information on everything from the Wiener Linien’s social networking strategy to rebuilding track. With entertainment for the whole family – on at least two different stages! – and lots to eat and drink it was a great day.

More Vienna Tram Day photos on Flickr (from everyone, including me).

Prague – June 2010

Prague – June 2010

I visited Prague last week for a conference on urban railway track construction best practices (more on the Urban Track conference).

Prague is a fantastic city: you can walk from one highlight to the next. One of my favourite neighbourhoods is the old Jewish Quarter. I have visited the historic sights before and so now I just like to walk around the neighbourhood, being gently reminded of the Holocaust.

Many buildings in this neighbourhood were built at the turn of the 19th Century and are Jugendstil (Art Nouveau) – perhaps my favourite building style. I skipped breakfast in my hotel both days and walked to a really fine bakery-cafe called Bake Shop for espresso and pain au chocolat … a real treat.

The weather was beautiful and I could sit out doors and enjoy my breakfast. One of the things I love about Prague is that it is so quiet on the streets (at least in the centre) and so you can really enjoy sitting outside eating.

As I was leaving I noticed how the roof lines were making nice patterns against the clouds and started taking photos of rooflines meeting the skyline. Many of the photos are buildings from Parizska street and the Jewish Quarter. I couldn’t help but notice that today’s contribution to how buildings meet the skyline is generally cellular telephone antennas or satellite television disks.

Another really cool thing I noticed about Prague is the many arcades running through buildings between streets. I talk about Prague’s arcades in future post.

After the first day of the conference we had a reception at the Prague Tram Museum (website lists all Prague museums, scroll down to tram museum info). The museum is really great, many old vehicles all very well restored. It is an old tram barn, naturally, and it has been very nicely cleaned up. The descriptive texts are in the Czech language, but there is a brief guide for the museum in English. It’s one of the better tram museums I have visited. (Some photos of the Prague Tram Museum are here.) Here’s a link to information about historic trams in Prague.

The reception was very nice, good food and local beer/wine. They served a very nice Goulash made with lots of cumin and also green beans. As a real Goulash fan I enjoyed it very much. Another nice touch was a six-piece jazz band. They did lots of standards including Girl from Ipanema … of course after hearing that I talked to the band leader and “casually” mentioned that I had written new words for the song (The Bus From Curitiba) thinking he might suggest that I sing it, but alias that was not to be, so the YouTube version will need to be it for now, but they were really good and what a wonderful place to perform the song. I’ll keep looking for more opportunities.

After the reception we took a night walk through the city, first stopping at the main square where live outdoor viewing of the world cup was going on, then through the old city to the Charles Bridge, it was dark by then, but everything is well lighted. Over the bridge and then up to the castle where there were only a few people, but again, everything well lighted. Then back down the hill to the hotel where I had to wake up early to make it to the Bake Shop before the conference started.

I’m writing from the train on my way back to Vienna. The fast trains between Prague and Vienna seem quite crowded (especially 1st class – many tourists). On the way to Prague there was only one 1st class wagon – with several children playing video games (with the sound turned on) and two infants crying … so it was really not relaxing. Today the air conditioning is not working very well – in the second 1st class wagon it’s not working at all! The railways really need to do a better job!

Seat Belts Turn 50

Seat Belts Turn 50

I attended Volvo’s Urban Transport Conference in March and as part of the conference a group of us toured the Volvo Museum (there’s my photo driving a bus). But I just learned that Nils Bohlin, an engineer at Volvo invented the three-point seat belt. The full story is in Wired’s Autopia The 3-Point Seat Belt Turns 50. Bohlin and Volvo made the design freely available and according to Wired, Bohlin’s invention has been singled out by German patent registrars as one of the eight patents to have the greatest significance for humanity during the hundred years from 1885 to 1985.

Museum Tauernbahn: Austrian Railway Museum

Museum Tauernbahn: Austrian Railway Museum

A couple weeks ago we visited the Museum Tauernbahn Salzburger Eisenbahnmuseum (the Tauern Valley Railway Museum). The museum presents the history of the railway line that connected Salzburg with routes to Trieste (the main port city for the Austrian-Hungarian empire.

The museum is small but quite nice. You can reach it by taking the train from Salzburg to Schwarzach St. Veit – about one-hour trip. The museum is a few steps away from the station. If you come by train they give you a discount (3 Euros instead of 4-5 Euros).

Andy on a locomotive

The museum focuses on building the rail line through the alps. It has an old tunnel drilling machine, describes the construction process, the history of selecting the alignment and has a model of one of the worker bedrooms. Outside you can climb on an old locomotive and there is an old maintenance hall with exhibits on the signalling/interlock technology, power distribution and a model “station”. Upstairs is a model railway (currently being completed) of the rail line.

The museum is open from May to early October Wednesday, Saturday and Sunday (and some Thursday nights) – check the internet site for details. The descriptions are in German, but the people are very helpful and many of the exhibits are self explanatory.

More Tauernbahn Eisenbahn Museum photos on my flickr album transport museums.

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