This is the latest in the weekend series of 'train blogs'.
NEWS BLOG (WSAU) For a young kid in New York City who liked trains, Coney Island was a fascinating place.
Coney Island was an ocean-resort for the rich and famous in the 1900s. The wealthy would move their families to the seaside resorts for the entire summer to escape the heat of Manhattan. Others would visit the bath houses and beaches for the weekend or the day. It was New York’s beachfront playground. And Coney Island has a colorful railroad history, as resort owners financed railroads to bring customers to their properties. Even now, Coney Island is the end-of-the-line for five subway routes.
The Coney Island-Stillwell Avenue station had subway trains pulling in and pulling out every few minutes. For a train-watcher, there was always something to see.
My Grandma Del Conte, who lived five stations up from Coney Island on the F-train line, found a special spot for me at Coney Island. If you rode in the front car of train, there was an outdoor stairway a few steps from where the train doors would open. It was intended for train-crew members to go upstairs to the lounge area where they could rest in between runs. But some passengers used those stairs too to transfer from one train to another; there were other stairs that led down to the platforms of the D, B, N, and QB-lines.
From the top of those stairs you could see the entire station, and the Coney Island yard and shops beyond those platforms. You could see all the trains approaching and leaving. You could watch the passengers board, the engineers and conductors climb in, and the empty trains pull away and pull in.
Grandma helped my climb up the stairs, and I’d watch for hours. It couldn’t have been too interesting for her, except for spending an afternoon out with her young grandson. Eventually we’d climb down and walk across the street for a hot dog at Nathans, and then back on the F-train to grandma’s house. But before we’d go, I’d want to climb the stairs one more time. The N-trains were starting to pull in for rush hour. The D-train was coming off the elevated tracks and pulling into the station. Our F-train was about to leave. Surely we could stay for a few more minutes… another one would be coming in a few minutes. Grandma always said ‘yes’.
Operations Manager, Midwest Communications-Wausau