NYC Subway Superstorm Sandy

Rockaway Here We Come! (Again)

June 28, 1956:
Today, for the First Time Since Sandy:

As of Noon today the subway is fully an officially back with service to every station! The MTA reopened the line in style sending out the Museum train first full of dignitaries (from the MTA and FTA, no elected officials bothered to show up) from Howard Beach, to a short event at Broad Channel and followed by the podium and speeches at Rockaway Park. The R1-9s were supposed to run in revenue service as the first public train from the Rockaways back to 168 Street but the ceremony ran late so a regular Shuttle Train was the first train to depart Rockaway Park at 12:02pm. I headed out to ride the inaugural train and photograph the festivities in 90 degree heat, the first real day of Summer temperatures, a very fitting re-beginning for subway service to the Rockways.

My Day south to Rockaway Park aboard the dignitary special and Photo Updates:

The morning began on my last (until the next G.O. takes away service over the Rockaway swing bridges) Howard Beach-bound A train,  leaving 181 street at 7:35am. I’m slightly aggressive with “seat, seat, seat.” and snag one. It’s an uneventful ride except for a beggar in a wheelchair who tells us about his displaced life in the Rockaways that had made him unemployed and homeless. He mentions ID with the Rockaway Park address for anyone who wants proof. I get off at Fulton Street at 8:11, and notice the Fix&Fortify service restored as of noon today sign in the train car window.

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I hop on a Citi Bike (I’m an inaugural Yearly member) and arrive at pier 11 at 8:20. The pier is empty from a lull in the morning arrival of boats. I walk the pier and find a big signage issue. No signs for the location and slip of the Rockaway Ferry.

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I then find two signs about ferry service to the Rockaways the emergency $2 ferry I’m taking (who’s service has been extended six weeks into the summer) and a weekends only for profit service ($20 one-way, $30 round-trip) to the Rockaway Beach.

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I ask the woman in the New York Waterway ticket office who doesn’t know but says the ferry is arriving. The slip arrives at 8:31 on Slip-C1. A good crowd gets off there me and about six people, mainly beach goers get on. There also a few people I learn who are heading out to the Rockaways to visit family.


I hand over my $2 and board the Martha’s Vinyard exprss. I walk though the main lower deck cabin and pass a sign in the bar. The crew is clearly sick of answering questions.


I head upstairs to the outdoor sun deck and head back outside. We leave at 8:35 and have the wonderful scenic and fast trip to the Rockaways. We go around Governors Island, not through Buttermilk Channel like on my last trip.

8:47 – Pass St George off in the distance, we move at about twice the speed as the large Staten Island ferries.
9:16 – Slow down for docking. I notice a subway train on the platform at Rockaway park
9:18 – As we arrive a subway a train passes off in the distance on the Rockaway el. It’s a test train running down to Rockaway Park, not in service.


I walk by Beach 105 Street-Seaside(40 total photos added from today) and try to enter the still closed station, the turnstiles are off. There also some employees on the street (it is closed to Far Rockaway-bound traffic), their doing a project repairing the concrete elevated.


I keep walking down Rockaway Freeway and see a Q53 bus off in the distance and catch it to cut down the walking to Beach 90th Street for my final H train ride. On board is this sign:


I get off at 95th Street at the last stop before the Cross-Bay bridge. I get to Beach 90th Street(10 Photos) at 9:36 and find trains are departing from the normal Manhattan (and Far Rockaway-bound) platform. They announce that the train is being held in the station due to signal problems. I get off for a back of the train photo and it is no longer the H but the S, the sign already changed. They keep announcing we’re being held due to signal problems. I also can see off in the distance a train farther down the el. It’s a short 4 cars and I can make out the grey of the S, sitting in Beach 98 st-Playland. I wish I had just stayed on the Q53 over the Cross Bay Bridge to Howard beach to catch the R1-9s.


At 9:55 I decide to abandon taking a last ride on the H train (now signed as Shuttle) to the Shuttle bus to get to Howard Beach and head to the Q52, my phone and Google Maps advising me about the schedule. As I walk I glance at my iPhone and dated  9:54 I get an e-mail from the MTA (sending them an e-mail about a FastTracks question (would the elevator at 181 Street be opened) subscribed me to subway alerts:

b/d no H Shuttle service b/t Mott Av and Beach 90 St, due to a LIPA loss of power in the Rockaways

The Q52 is vertually right on schedule (maybe a minute late). I get on and have a nice scenic ride up and over the Cross-Bay Veterans Memorial Bridge and through Broad Channel. There is minimal traffic and the ride is much more scenic than the Far Rockaway Shuttle Bus Ride via Nassau County. I see the subway off in the distance. It looks quite different, the new new metal sheeting forming a sea wall is clearly obvious, I’m curious how much it will impair the view.
10:17 I get off at the second stop on the Queens ‘mainland’ at 157 Avenue. I get off to walk get to Howard Beach(34 Photos). A bunch of MTA Cars and news trucks are parked outside the station.


I walk up the stairs and go through the High Entrance turnstiles at the direct entrance to the Rockaway-bound platform, its full of dignitaries and the press. I notice this photo reprint.


I head towards the northern end of the platform and a couple A trains come through and terminate (some of the employees on the platform aren’t there for the dignitaries and press run run but making sure the cars are cleared of passengers before the trains reverse or run all the way to Far Rockaway in stimulated regular service).

At 10:40, ten minutes late this approaches and enters the station:


It’s the Rockaway Here We Come! train, with a sign in front just like the poster. These are the destination signs since the train is returning as the first revenue service train from the Rockaways. To my dismay its ending at Wash. Hts.-168 St and not going all the way up to 207 Street.


Only the front doors have opened so I hurry down the platform to get off before walking back to R6 #1000, there is no one else in the car (eveyone seems to have stayed in the front of the train). We leave at 10:46, Rockaway Here We Come! (Again)

I stand by an open window as we get photos heading south including with quite a few fisherman right nearby the northern side of the bridge. I notice that the rails on the opposite track are slightly rusty, not the smooth looking silver of all other subway tracks since their so widely used. At 10:52 we come to a stop in the middle of the north Rockaway swing bridge. It looks nearly the same with the low and unique blue fence. An A train passes going the other way. Its running out of service simulating regular service. We sit on the bridge, it’s hot even with the fans and the sea breeze 10:57 move again and go down the swing bridge.


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We then enter the flats with their new metal sea wall. The magic isn’t quite the same as before of floating over the ocean although the metal walls remind the passenger just how powerful the ocean is. There not really that easy to look over if your sitting down. Standing up offers easy views over them. I get photos of Kennedy Airport across from us, and the new metal sea wall that protects the tracks from the marshland beneath. There is also a wide gravel area that was clearly the road built to allow contractors access to the washouts along the flats. There also some spotlights along the tracks, construction must have been a 24 hour job. As we approach Broad Channel there is a large area that was clearly once used by the contractors for staging equipment.


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At 11:02 we come to a stop at Broad Channel(32 Photos) clearly for some press event. An A train passes (not in service but mimicking service, going the other way). I immediately notice the new light fixtures on the old blue lampposts, its an odd contrast from the MTA that normally rebuilds everything or lets everything be. They only open up the front section of the train, I walk up get some photos and get back on.


We get an “All Aboard” and leave 11:11 to finally go over the South Swing Bridge and Rockaway Here We Really Come! The train crosses the first shorter bridge to a little island that lacks a Sea Wall but odd cloth sheeting, I assume the Sea Wall is currently being made and designed and will be installed soon.

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At Hammel’s Wye we enter the Rockaways! and take the southern track at the flying junction to curve west and head towards Rockaway Park. I see many employees take a pause from their work to acknowledge and photograph the museum train. A few have quite fancy cameras, one becomes the cover image on the MTA’s website.

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We continue through Beach 98 Street

Then over the entrance to the Cross-Bay Bridge

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The next stop to bypass is Beach 98 Street-Playland-(2 Photos) (there was an amusement park from 1902 until 1985)

We see the water of the sewage treatment plant and bypass Beach 105 street(40 total photos added from today)

Then we pass the temporary ferry dock at the end of Beach 108 Street and head down to Ground Level.

We arrive at Rockaway Park(53 Total Photos) at 11:22. I get off and get the customary front and back photos, they end up bringing the train up about ten feet (flagging it like a car) to align better with the service hours sign.


Next I stand in the back and get some photos of the speeches. The podium has a fake sign for Rockaway Park, made just for the event. This is a standard feature when the MTA is doing something special for a subway station. The point I like the best is from FTA Administrator Peter Rogoff discussing how important New York City is in terms of numbers of mass transit riders in the country and also how more people ride the subway to the Rockaways than the entire length of may rail systems in the US. There also displays behind the speakers with photos of the restoration process.


I then get some photos of inside and streetside of the station house.


I finish and there is one problem. I don’t have (and have no desire for) a press pass and can’t get back in. At 11:48 the turnstiles haven’t been opened yet. The employee manning the gate just lets us (there a couple other people who have come down hoping to catch the R1-9s) through and I snap some final photos of the inaugural event.


I head out to the platform and get some more photos. I find out that because the event is running late a Shuttle train connecting with a normal A train will be the first to leave and I get on that to get a photo of the R1-9s at another station.


We leave at 12:01pm, I feel excited and slightly amazed to be on the first train to leave Rockaway Park with regular passengers in almost exactly 7 months.

Continue Reading: The trip back on the R1-9s to 168 Street in revenue service will be a Part 2 that I plan to write tomorrow (this post is way too long already)!

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