24 June 2016

Steel Windows

Steel Windows

The Bethlehem Exhibition
(updated 7 September 2016)

Once "protected by pistol-packing mamas," Bethlehem Steel was central to the success of the United States in peace and war. As you review the photos below, you will not hear what workers and neighbors described as the "constant booming" of the plant. Companion to many generations, today the pulse of the plant can only be imagined by the scope of its gargantuan local footprint, nine and a half miles long.

map adapted from brokenbushandroundtop,
"This map was used by truck delivery people to identify the various truck dock locations."
C. Gallo, 18 January 1979
The easiest way to comprehend the impact of Bethlehem Steel is to watch the PBS documentary on its history (YouTube, ~1 hr. 20 min.) :

"Bethlehem Steel: the
People Who Built America" 

Local efforts in preservation and restoration were incomplete as of 2011 when many of these Google Street View photos were taken. Much progress transforming the former headquarters facilities of Bethlehem Steel has been made. New tenants and uses are everywhere. Transformation, however, is a tricky deal that never ends. Working with change, rather than resisting change, is always a challenge.

Here's a flyover of the Bethlehem Steel complex in 2015: YouTube (3:30 min.)

If you're not an Ozzy Osbourne fan, mute the sound.
Select HD 1080 for clearest viewing.
"Flying Above Bethlehem Steel" by Jerry D.
Outsourced from "Flying Above Bethlehem Steel" above,
trees sprout from the furnaces. It appears they
germinated shortly after the plant closed.
Nature calls this process "succession."
Photo below is of the upper floor of the former
"Central Tool Machine Shop," # 178 on the map.
Click [GSV] to view in Google Street View
Charles F. Mohr (retired 1981, died March, 2002) was a supervisor in the central machine tool shop.

Michael A. Racosky (retired 1960, died 1986) was a machinist and setter in the central machine tool shop. Monster lists a machinist/setter's duties and required skills in 2016 as:
CNC Operator Machinist Job Duties:
  • Plans machining by studying work orders, blueprints, engineering plans, materials, specifications, orthographic drawings, reference planes, locations of surfaces, and machining parameters; interpreting geometric dimensions and tolerances (GD&T).
  • Plans stock inventory by checking stock to determine amount available; anticipating needed stock; placing and expediting orders for stock; verifying receipt of stock.
  • Programs mills and lathes by entering instructions, including zero and reference points; setting tool registers, offsets, compensation, and conditional switches; calculating requirements, including basic math, geometry, and trigonometry; proving part programs.
  • Sets-up mills and lathes by installing and adjusting three- and four-jaw chucks, tools, attachments, collets, bushings, cams, gears, stops, and stock pushers; indicating vices; tramming heads.
  • Loads feed mechanism by lifting stock into position.
  • Verifies settings by measuring positions, first-run part, and sample workpieces; adhering to international standards.
  • Maintains specifications by observing drilling, grooving, and cutting, including turning, facing, knurling and thread chasing operations; taking measurements; detecting malfunctions; troubleshooting processes; adjusting and reprogramming controls; sharpening and replacing worn tools; adhering to quality assurance procedures and processes.
  • Maintains safe operations by adhering to safety procedures and regulations.
  • Maintains equipment by completing preventive maintenance requirements; following manufacturer's instructions; troubleshooting malfunctions; calling for repairs.
  • Maintains continuity among work shifts by documenting and communicating actions, irregularities, and continuing needs.
  • Documents actions by completing production and quality logs.
  • Updates job knowledge by participating in educational opportunities; reading technical publications.
  • Accomplishes organization goals by accepting ownership for accomplishing new and different requests; exploring opportunities to add value to job accomplishments.
CNC Operator Machinist Skills and Qualifications:Conceptual Skills, Process Improvement, Verbal Communication, Functional and Technical Skills, Controls and Instrumentation, Supply Management, Tooling, Coordination, Inventory Control, Attention to Detail, Judgment

Richard H. Kleintrop worked as First Floor Foreman in the central machine tool shop for 45 years. Watching his grandson play baseball gave him great joy.

Richard H. Kleintop Obituary
Richard H. Kleintrop
(31 March 1916 - 19 March 2012)

Raymond Howard Hinkle (died 12 July 1971) worked at the central machine tool shop for a number of years.

Shown below is the "No.4 Shop" (# 173)
The "No. 4 shop" housed many Bethelehem Steel activities. The image shows a part of the building housing "Construction/Air Condit"[ioning?]. Also located within these walls were the Safety Shop and the Bearing Center:


Listed as "abandoned" on the map above, the function of this building is unknown.

[GSV]  Hooked
Everything at a steel plant is on a grand scale.
This gantry crane could lift tons and tons of steel products.




[GSV]  ArtsQuest Center,
reflects one of the best redevelopment projects I've seen anywhere!

to be continued....

12 June 2016

Restaurants in passing: The Flo-Jean, Port Jervis NY

updated 10 September 2016

Note to readers: +Thom Marion has added some comments to this post that are highly recommended reading for railfans and others interested in transportation or regional history. Click on "comments" at the end of this post & tell the browser to display them all. Your efforts will be greatly rewarded!

"Pub. by Planned Color Advertising Inc., Stroudsburg PA
Made by Dexter, West Nyack NY"
(from inscription on back of card)
Permanence. As a child, I thought everything that was had always been and would always be. It takes a few years to realize that change is life's certificate of authenticity. The bustling railroad towns of Port Jervis and Middletown NY I knew in the 1950s are now just memories, personal experiences shared with fewer and fewer of my contemporaries.

Sometimes as a consequence of community decline and occasionally due to changes in customer preference or competition, staid old landmark restaurants pass into history. Featured here are a few I have known and some I wish I had known. All have passed into history.

The Flo-Jean, Port Jervis NY

Google Earth spots the long, rambling Flo-Jean restaurant building between the Delaware River
and Water Street. Throughout its history, the Flo-Jean was both blessed and threatened by its riverside location. This restaurant had an excellent reputation for quality service and good food. In my mind, it never fully took advantage of the river views. On occasion, however, the Delaware became a bit too personal, depositing fresh fish and other aquatic life inside the building.
Flo-Jean "Party Room, serving Dinners, Weddings and Banquets for all occasions." (source: post card published by Valence Color Publishers, Canadensis PA. Genuine Natural Color made by Dexter Press, Inc., West Nyack NY.")  I don't remember which of the dining rooms my family ate in, but we always thought of the Flo-Jean as a special family place and favorite destination.  Note the green ash trays from the era when smoke-filled dining rooms were the rule. Outside of gas stations and library stacks, nobody had ever heard of non-smoking areas! 
The Flo-Jean incorporated in its complex the toll house for the once-busy
bridge across the Delaware. The Flo-Jean's "Toll House Bar" displayed
this original sign "to remind many of our older guests of stories of Toll
paying days." (source: postcard by Jo[h]n Valence, Stroudsburg PA)
Here's a look at some of the conveyances listed on the Toll sign:

4 wheeled pleasure carriage as seen on eBay listing 272270688242 Mikeamie07
Stage wagon ride (YouTube ~3 min.)

Chaise, from the
Archives of Pearson Scott Foresman, donated to the Wikimedia Foundation
"Once busy" describes the Port Jervis area very well. It was a canal town, then a railroad town and is now bypassed by intercity traffic altogether. At a time when all traffic passed over the Delaware at Port Jervis, the Flo-Jean prospered. Its prosperity continued through various owners during the time when the Erie Railroad's freight traffic was sorted out in the nearby yards.

As detailed in the comments area below by +Thom Marion, the importance of Port Jervis as a transportation center declined. (Thom corrects my incorrect notion that the Lackawanna was favored over the Erie when the railroads merged and adds other interesting historical detail.) Interstate traffic that used to pass through town past the Flo-Jean took the new Route 84 bridge over the Delaware. In the 1960s, I boarded one of the last passenger trains from Binghamton through Port Jervis to my home in Middletown NY. 

Water Street, at the Flo-Jean's front door, shows the effects of this transportation shift. Vacant storefronts and detiorating facades are too common. Many buildings have been torn down, including most associated with the Erie Railroad operations. The contemporary picture is brightened by the rehabilitation of the Erie Depot, but the Flo-Jean's demolition was unavoidable. Operating a restaurant that nobody passes by anymore in a decaying, ramshackle complex of haphazardly connected individual buildings occasionally invaded by flood waters is too much of a challenge.

(Google Street View)
"Toll House
This building, a toll house
for the bridge spanning the
Delaware from 1871-1922,
was incorporated into the
Flo-Jean restaurant in 1929."
From the Mid-Delaware bridge, this Street View shows the Delaware side of the rambling Flo-Jean complex, consisting of many "incorporations." The old toll house building is on the right.
Tolls were collected by the Barrett Bridge Company until 1922.
The restored (1986) Erie Depot. Trains passed by to your left. From the historical marker:
"Built in 1892, enlarged in
1912, this building served
as the Delaware Division's
largest station until its
closing in the mid-1970s."
The Erie Hotel still welcomes patrons next door to the restored Erie Depot.
the new depot
Port Jervis is the northern terminus of Metro-North, which operates commuter service between there and New York City on the southern portion of the old Erie line. It's a long commute, but the Port Jervis area has many attractions as a bedroom community. 
Google Earth's Port Jervis with areas of interest highlighted.
[click to enlarge]
The Flo-Jean Restaurant is located at the top center of the Google Earth image above, with the old Erie station at lower left, the new Metro North station lower center and the former Erie roundhouse floor with turntable lower right.

By far the best aerial photo of the restaurant I have found is  https://ssl.panoramio.com/photo/127991564 (reproduced below) by Anuar T.

View of the bridge from Port Jervis, NY to Matamoras, PA 
The Flo-Jean stretches along the near side of the Delaware
"beginning" at the base of the bridge,
at the intersection of Pike & Water Streets.

A few blocks east of the Flo-Jean, Pike Street tunnels under the remaining two of what used to be a dozen or so tracks of the old Erie Railroad on its way to the bridge over the Delaware where the Flo-Jean location at the Water Street intersection used to be prime commercial territory.

Below are aspects of the Pike Street Tunnel as captured by Google Street View, and the skeleton of a similar underpass for Sleepy Hollow Road further north along the old Erie line.

Sturdy architecture, meant to last for ages. Towers of lights illuminated the Erie freight yards as
watchmen kept a careful eye on activities. While the freight yard bustled above, traffic was heavy
on Pike Street as intercity travelers headed for the Delaware bridge on America's famous
east-west artery, Route 6. (Google Street View, Oct 2015)
Interstate 84 made short work of traffic on Route 6 while rail traffic withered as the federal
government built public rights of way for auto & truck traffic. Compared to the thousands of
miles of private rights of way maintained by rail companies, which paid taxes on them, their
competition, trucking companies using free interstate highways, had an advantage.
(Google Street View modified in Picasa)
Today, the Pike Street freight yard underpass is as a deserted as a Roman ruin. As you can see in the picture above, it's been years since even graffiti artists paid any attention to the walls!

Pike Street Tunnel (Street View)
Sleepy Hollow Road underpass
Remnants of Erie days are imprinted all over Port Jervis. In the late 1950s, when my grandfather Diver's employer, the New York Ontario and Western railroad collapsed, leaving Middletown NY without one of its major employers, I used to envy Port Jervis residents, who still had a working railroad. I would never have imagined Port Jervis would suffer the same fate, but it's all part of the same process, national infrastructure collapse.

The footprint of the old Erie roundhouse is clearly outlined in this Google Earth photo.
As I understand it, the turntable still works.
No. 833 at rest on the Erie turntable - October, 2015.
Power for the New York & Greenwood Lake Railway is rusting comfortably within the
footprint of the old Erie Roundhouse. By the way, the Minisink Valley Historical Society
has great information on regional railroads.
4/27/2013: Metro North Port Jervis Line; #75 @ Port Jervis Station; Port Jervis, NY by Philip M. Goldstein (YouTube: ~3min.)

Port Jervis, Still a Railroad Town by dumbbuff
(YouTube: ~7min.)

On the occasion of the Flo-Jean's demolition in October, 2015 the Times-Herald Record published a summary of the restaurant's history and a series of pictures by Jessica Cohen in which it was noted the present owner, Lynn Wallace Gallo,
"...did save the Toll House sign displaying toll rates, guest books with comments going back to the 1930s, plus boxes of photos and news articles. She donated much to the Minisink [Valley] Historical Society, which will have an exhibit of Flo-Jean’s memorabilia...."
The Pocono Record also published an article with photos of the demolition, noting the restaurant's origins as follows:
"Inspired by a fishing trip with novelist Zane Grey, General Motors executive Harold Dalrymple built Flo-Jean's El Patio Tea Shop in 1929, named for his wife, Florence, and her sister Jean."
Here's a YouTube flyover of the 
Port Jervis area by John Donnery.
It is a beautiful view of the landscape
that ties together much of what has been
posted above. Thanks, John!

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01 June 2016

Arles, France: Searching for Iris and Sunflowers

updated 3 June 2016

When Street View guided me down West Montgomery Avenue in Philadelphia, one of the murals I saw was "Sunflower Quilting Bee at Arles." Not long after, I visited the profiles page of one of my Google+ followers and found that the Van Gogh painting "Field with Flowers Near Arles, 1888" was posted there.

So of course, I had to go there! Arles traces its history back to the Romans, as Wikipedia explains. It was founded by Rome as a retreat for Roman soldiers. The area is host to several Roman ruins, but they are not the only tourist draw. Climate and civic atmosphere combine with history to make Arles well worth visiting (Tripadvisor).

Rick Steves' Europe: YouTube (4 min.)

Major tourist destinations can be hard for some of us to find, however. With the aid of Google Maps, I did locate two:

The Roman Arena
The Arena at Arles was constructed for the usual bloody purposes of empire by the Romans. It is thought by some who like to think about such things that perhaps local animals, such as bulls, were victimized here (along with humans) instead of more exotic beasts like lions. In any case, the entertainment bill was a never-ending succession of events that featured "amusing" barbarity.

During the Middle Ages, the Arena was fortified with towers and the arches filled in. A whole town resided inside the Arena's walls. Some of the filled arches can be seen in the upper part of the Street View above.

Meanwhile, back in Roman times, if the Arena's sporting features did not entirely fill your spare time, Roman citizens could also explore usually less violent fare at the Arles theater:

Entering Arles amphitheater
Determined ascent
As you can tell from the varied construction of the amphitheater's seats, the theater is not entirely original. The restored facility is used for outdoor concerts today and is suitably equipped with modern lighting, etc.

If you'd like, you can experience a live performance at the amphitheater via YouTube, or just leave the music playing in the background as you continue:

Concert Buena Vista Social Club @ Festival Suds a Arles (YouTube: ~1hr.)

Looking for gardens, I entered Arles on Street View from a bridge over the Rhone River. Arles prospered in its early days as a link between Rome and Spain. Bridging the Rhone (which often misbehaves) was a major accomplishment.

Whose shadow?
Google's 9 eyes play tricks on us.
Under the bridge - a glimpse of typical stonework.
Arles was heavily bombarded during World War II. Not even these noble lions could prevent the destruction of this bridge:

Bridge destroyed.
Lions caught napping!
(probably overate at the Arles Arena)
The Rhone is lined by man-made dikes to prevent (sometimes successfully) the flooding of Arles. My first thought was, "this is what NYC and other eastern US cities will look like in a few years." The dikes, however, are only effective against occasional high water caused by river flooding. Sea level rise is going to require much more extensive flood control, including pumping stations...before the inevitable mass migration to higher ground.

[Your grain of salt: Make your plans now. My take on sea level rise is based on geologic features such as the sand hills of South Carolina and the sea stack found hundreds of feet above current sea level in Acadia National Park. Jumping to conclusions and without any critical thought, my prediction is for a relatively fast sea level rise of 250 feet (~76 meters) as various continental glaciers lubricated by meltwater underneath slip into the sea. Head for the hills!]

It would appear from the height of the flood walls that the Rhone just manages to squeeze under the
bridge in the background at flood stage. 
The dike-top promenade is seven steps above street level at this point.
Flood gate which can be closed to prevent flooding.
In the meantime while waiting for the Rhone or perhaps the sea to rise, there appear to be some benefits to a flood wall:
What, me worry?
Leaving the waterfront behind, I followed Street View into the heart of the oldest part of Arles I could find....and you know what happened...again. Lost in a maze! Actually, quite happily so. My aimless explorations revealed some interesting features I might not have seen otherwise.

6 AM stroll through old Arles

The architecture in the old city is characterized by uniformity punctuated with tidbits of inspiration. Shutters with peeling paint are often closed, even on occupied buildings. Abandoned structures in this quarter are rare, though I may have missed a few because of their resemblance to occupied structures.

Google Street View self-portrait (Rue Emile Barrère): our 9 eyes host passes by
In Arles, Street View used bicycles on some of the narrow streets.
Within the old quarter of Arles, I did not find any of Van Gogh's gardens or enough sunflowers for a quilting bee. I did find lots of beauty, however.

Vines, trees, flowers (and I suppose weeds) all grow well in this sunny Mediterranean climate.
The residents of this building celebrate with a roof-top pergola in addition to all their vines.
a climate good for clothes-drying and
(upper right) "volunteer" plants in crevices 
Doorway gardening is pursued by some residents.
a restrained bouquet -- almost too much of a good thing....
Sycamore shadows
Trees have no room to grow in old Arles' narrow streets, but are found along the Rhone.
"Boston" Ivy in Arles?
Whatever it is, this window will soon be closed
either with shutters or vines!
A beginner's garden
just enough room
Finally! Google Earth found the fields around Arles,
Fields that could be filled with sunflowers or Iris
Will you be going to Arles sometime soon? Looks like someone will be on the lookout for you!

Rooftop lookout at Gare D'Arles