B12 Solipsism

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Archive for the ‘trains’ tag

CTA Apple Stop

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Apple store

Apple has so much cash in their corporate coffers1, they can afford to spend a little money fixing infrastructure. In a country that cared about people more than foreign wars, the Chicago Transit Authority would have enough budget to maintain its own stations, but we don’t live in such a magical place. Infrastructure investment for public transit2 is not a priority, unfortunately.

Nevertheless, I salute Apple for doing this, no matter their motives. I would applaud other corporations for jumping into this breach, and sprucing up other stations, shoring up bridges, etc. Too bad they mostly only focus on naming rights for stadiums.

Even while the neighborhood took on a high gloss, the CTA station looked the way it had for decades — like the stop closest to the poverty of the Cabrini-Green housing project.

Now this woman stood gawking at the Apple Store and the plaza that linked it to the station.

“The plaza just knocked my socks off,” she said. “A plaza, with seats. Like these guys weren’t so terrified of homeless people sitting down that they weren’t going to let anyone else sit down, either. And a fountain, that instant supplier of peace. It made me want to sit down on a nice day with a cup of tea and a book. OK, in gratitude to Apple, it should be an iPad, but whatever. I say thank you to Apple.”

Exactly the effect Apple intends.

There’s reason to be grateful to Apple for the metamorphosis of this patch of Chicago. Apple has not only built a store more stylish than anything nearby, it has invested close to $4 million in the North/Clybourn station.

It’s the equivalent of mowing the neighbor’s weedy lawn — and paying the neighbor to let you.

Outside, the station has clean new brick, big new windows and a sleek new look, partly 1940s and entirely 2010.

The inside isn’t stylish, but it’s improved. Someone has scrubbed the red concrete floors, brushed red paint on the old railings, tried to wipe the grime from the escalator stairs.

(click to continue reading CTA station is the apple of computer giant’s eye, Mary Schmich says – chicagotribune.com.)

Apple Logos

  1. over $50,000,000,000 last time I looked []
  2. Amtrak, CTA, et al []

Written by Seth Anderson

October 29th, 2010 at 9:20 am

Posted in Apple,Business,Chicago-esque

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No Sense Of Time

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No Sense of Time

Better in Lightbox

Both Metra and Amtrak use these rails to link to Union Station and the Ogilvie Transportation Center so they are quite active with trains. Shot with my Nikon 18mm-200mm lens, and converted to black and white in Photoshop using the Alien Skin Exposure 3 plugin. If this area of the West Loop wasn’t so fouled with diesel smoke, I’d set up a tripod here, and get a better, long exposure shot, maybe even a photo that included a CTA train in the track in the upper right of the frame, but it is, and I’m impatient anyway.

Written by Seth Anderson

October 21st, 2010 at 11:00 am

Train Tracks in London

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Written by swanksalot

September 20th, 2010 at 9:22 am

Fast Trains

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Jon Hilkevitch writes about a topic dear to my heart: the new push to have a national rail system that is worth riding, and is fast enough to replace air travel.

View from the Hiawatha
[View from the Hiawatha]

Milwaukee Road rail line coal-burning locomotive was clocked going 124 m.p.h. on a stretch between the Twin Cities and Chicago — in 1939.

Bringing up the rear of the Art Deco-style Hiawatha train was the “Beaver Tail” parlor-observation car (so-named for its downward-sloping shape), where passengers lounging on recliners and couches watched the countryside pass by.

Such long-distance trains routinely barreling across the Midwest at speeds exceeding the century mark may have been far ahead of their time 70 years ago. On the other hand, today’s back-to-the-future plans by the federal government to encourage development of 110-m.p.h. train service in parts of the U.S. may simply lack the spirit and forward-looking approach that was alive back then, or even as recently as the 1960s, when 200-m.p.h.-plus “bullet train” systems were built in Asia and Europe.

The question is whether that transportation system will be the envy of the world, or barely exceed speeds and travel times delivered by past technology.

“I am shocked by the timidness of America. If billions of dollars are going to be spent, why end up with a rail system that is only half as good as what the rest of the world has?” said Andy Kunz, president and chief executive officer of the US High Speed Rail Association. The non-profit association was created in July after the Obama administration announced $8 billion in economic stimulus funding to start construction of a high-speed rail network.

The association’s goal is to advance and coordinate a state-of-the-art system connecting major U.S. cities by 2030. The vision includes building track dedicated to serving 220-m.p.h. electric-powered trains, advanced control systems, top-of-the-line passenger coaches and elegant stations.

[Click to continue reading Are 110-m.p.h. trains on the right track? — chicagotribune.com]

Willingly Walk on the Crookedest Paths

Trains routinely went quite fast:

The U.S. government did not regulate train speeds in the early 20th Century, effectively encouraging manufacturers to build lightweight, streamlined trains and prompting railroads to rehab their tracks with heavier rails.

In his book The Hiawatha Story Jim Scribbins, who spent his career working for the Milwaukee Road, described Hiawatha equipment designed to cruise at 100 m.p.h. and reach speeds of 120 m.p.h., with reserve power if needed. “Ninety-one m.p.h. seemed like 45,” Scribbins said about a run on May 15, 1935, between Milwaukee and New Lisbon, Wis., during which 112.5 m.p.h. was maintained for 14 miles.

“At 100 m.p.h., a shout erupted from the mechanical department personnel doing the timing — 103.5 … 105 … 105.5 … 109, and still comfortable. Finally came 112.5, and the train rode like a dream. In the diner, a full glass of water held every drop.”

High Speed Rail proposal
[High Speed Rail Proposal – click here for larger view]

Is there hope? We’ll see, but unfortunately, we’ll all probably be too old to enjoy the Super Trains…

Written by Seth Anderson

August 11th, 2009 at 10:12 am

Posted in government

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Long Term Future – E100S

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Long Term Future - E100S
Long Term Future – E100S, originally uploaded by swanksalot.

Beaux-Arts former refueling station, now a mixed use office/retail spot

from the Green Line train at Clinton

Written by swanksalot

July 7th, 2009 at 10:58 am

Posted in Photography

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High Speed Rail proposal

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High Speed Rail proposal, originally uploaded by swanksalot.

Awesome. Would love for more transportation options, especially ones that used Chicago as a hub.
[view large: www.flickr.com/photos/swanksalot/3312216345/sizes/o/ ]

via The Chicagoist [ chicagoist.com/2009/02/26/chicago_closer_to_high-speed_hu… ].

More info at NPR:

these are just the monorails, of course, there are other connections. Also, note the date (lower right corner), 2005. So none of this is new, just possibly funded, if our whole country doesn’t go down the debt hole first. But I’d rather we spend money on infrastructure than on Boeing and Halliburton largesse.

I’m on board, figuratively, with any big national rail program, with super trains, or just adding some zing to the existing cobbled-together Amtrak system. I’d love to see America catch up with the rest of the developed world and have a rail system that wasn’t an afterthought.

Written by swanksalot

February 27th, 2009 at 9:19 am

Reading Around on February 26th through February 27th

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A few interesting links collected February 26th through February 27th:

  • There Is No Social Security Crisis | The American Prospect – When does the Social Security trust fund run out in that case? Never. It never runs out (here’s the graph, if you’re interested).

    The Social Security trustees aren’t the only ones who have tried to crunch these numbers; the Congressional Budget Office estimates that the trust fund will be exhausted in 2049, not 2041, and that at that point tax revenues will cover 84 percent of benefits, not 78 percent. But looking at all the various projections, one has to conclude the following:

    At some point, somewhere between 30 and 70 years in the future, the Social Security trust fund may be exhausted. If it is exhausted and taxes are not raised, beneficiaries will see a reduction in benefits that will be meaningful, though not catastrophic.

  • Chicago Closer to High-Speed Hub Reality? – Chicagoist: Chicago News, Food, Arts & Events – Awesome, let’s hope this happens. “it seems like a battle is shaping up for who will get the biggest slice of the transit pie as U.S. Senate Leader Harry Reid (of Nevada) will be making a play for his area, but he’ll be going up against Illinois’ own…President Obama. The Midwest line also has the Federal Railroad Administration on its side thanks to a layout that would connect up to 11 major metro areas (St. Louis, the Twin Cities, Detroit, Cleveland, Cincinnati, etc) within a 400 miles of Chicago, the proposed hub. As for what kind of train would be used, while Amtrak was batted about for the Midwest, the “Sin Express” folks are looking into maglev technology, a system which uses magnets to cause trains to levitate that is currently in use in Shanghai.”

Written by swanksalot

February 27th, 2009 at 1:01 am

Posted in Links,politics

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