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Page 4

BMT C-Type at Boro Hall

     Only in 1949, some nine years after the BMT and IRT had been merged into municipal operation, did ten foot wide cars operate in Queens for the BMT, as the Astoria Line was converted for 10' operation while the Corona Line, which had been extended to Main Street in Flushing, was given over for exclusive operation by the IRT Division.

The World's Fair of 1939

As Europe was passing into a new Dark Age, America looked toward a brighter age. Part of New York City's marshy Flushing Meadows was designated the place where an ephemeral monument to the Future was to be erected -- the World's Fair of 1939-'40.

     In terms of transit there was no better location. The Long Island Rail Road ran nearby, as did the new Independent line to Jamaica and, of course, the Flushing Line.

     Competition was stiff and the BMT knew that it was the short man on the stick, an unfamiliar and uncomfortable spot for a vigorous railway that had survived the decline in rail popularity magnificently. The best they could offer riders was a connection between their Broadway subway and the Flushing Line at Queensboro Plaza, where riders would step off the 67' subway cars, still a spectacular car after 25 years, or the powerful 137' articulated Triplexes, built in 1927, to transfer to cars 49' long and 35 years old -- ;open platform cars with hand-operated gates, no less -- ;hardly an appropriate vehicle to transport one to the future.

The C-types, an experiment that linked newer "L" motor cars with older trailers. Though successful performers, their design left much to be desired. Here they pass Brooklyn Borough Hall on the Fulton Street L in 1939.

     To increase the pressure, the IRT had put in its first order for new equipment since 1925 -- a fleet of 50 cars expressly for the World's Fair run. While no great shakes in the opening era of the PCC car, they would offer an attractive vehicle for Fair-goers.

     The BMT now needed to decide how to put it's best foot forward for fare-goers. Its policy was not to purchase any new 9' wide equipment, not even for existing elevated lines -- these lines were to be converted to handle 10' cars, as had already occurred on the Fulton Street Line, but there was no way it could run 10' cars on the Flushing Line. It was on this very trackage that they had suffered one of their few defeats and it was not their intention to take a back seat now.

     The problem was dumped in the lap of equipment chief William G. Gove.

     After thirty years with the Brooklyn transit companies Gove showed none of the pompousness of the high place he held in transit circles, nor any of the conservatism which had contributed so much to the decline in rail transit elsewhere.

     He went from the age of open end "L" cars made of wood in the dawn of MU operation to equipment employing all sorts of gadgets and materials which, in the peaceful Edwardian era where his roots lay, would have seemed like science -fiction. But ideas didn't frighten him and what he didn't invent he adopted from the work of others. Gove built his solution upon a partlially successful earlier design -- the "C-type" (photo above).

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Updated Saturday, December 02, 2000

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