The Old City Hall Stop

A post in the New York Times (a few weeks back) said that if you stayed on the #6 train when it gets to the last stop (Brooklyn Bridge) the train will turn around and make a big curve going through the Old City Hall Station before heading uptown.  Anyone ever tried that? I’m thinking about giving it.  If I disappear, you should look for me first in the Old City Hall station.  I bet I’m still spry enough to hop off the train and hang out in the station.  Maybe not.

In the meantime, whenever I go past the abandoned station on the Q train coming back from Coney, I try to get a clean window – and film the Myrtle Avenue Station.  I’ll post some of those movies soon.  The station is between Manhattan Bridge and DeKalb Ave on the left side of the train? as you head into Manhattan.  That’s the station with the Zoetrope like display by artist Bill Brand.

For an old filmmaker – like myself – it is so totally fascinating because rather than having images flipping through a single spot.  You know, that’s where that Persistence of Vision thing happens.  If you flip through a pad of images that change slightly at the right speed you’ll have animation.  In the old days that speed was about 18 Frames Per Second (FPS).  Later it changed to 24 FPS which was the standard for sound films.

Animals also have Persistence of Vision (btw) but they see flickering at 24 FPS.  At least my cat does.  But at 30 FPS the cat looks at the animals and whatnot on the tube and reacts to them as if they are real.  Sort of real anyway – no smell.

The point is that just about all movie making / animation is based on this idea of making slight changes in the images and moving them through a light source – or flipping them on a pad etc.  But in the Masstransiscope as it has been dubbed – you move.  The images are stationary, lit from behind by a light.  How smoothness of the subway animation in the tunnel depends on the speed of the train.

And how it appears on film, depends on how many FPS you are shooting it at.  So I have about five different takes of the station, one where the train stopped right in front of the Masstransiscope and you can see a lit flight of stairs.  The Myrtle station has three flights of stairs down; and boy oh boy I want to get down there.

But as I say, I’ll start with the #6 train to the Old City Hall station.  You can definitely tour that station.  You just need to buy a membership with the Transit Museum.

p.s. Most of this info is from Matt Weber who clued me in to what I was passing by on that train every time I came back from Coney.

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