Public Address System in 1936?

Discussion relating to the past and present operations of the NYC Subway, PATH, and Staten Island Railway (SIRT).

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Lunievicz

Public Address System in 1936?

Post by Lunievicz » Mon Mar 02, 2009 7:28 am

Hello, I'm new to the forum and doing some research on the NYC subway for a novel I'm writing and have been trying verify whether or not there were public address systems on the subway cars in 1936 and or when they started to use them. I've tried the subway museum and not had any luck getting an answer. My own research has turned up some information on subway car (#484 an R9?)) in use during the early 1930's was the first car to use a public address system but I don't know if it was built with it or built in later. Does anyone know or can you direct me to a resource to find out? It's not a key plot element in my book but I like to get background elements correct and don't want to have a PA system in place if they weren't. I'm also curious what conductors did to notify passengers about the upcoming stop(s) and what passengers did to see what stop they were at in the 1930s and subsequent 40's. Any help would be appreciated.

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Gerry6309
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Re: Public Address System in 1936?

Post by Gerry6309 » Mon Mar 02, 2009 9:53 am

PA systems on trains were feasible in 1936, but were not worth wasting jumper cable connections on. When the button type MU connections came into use in the late 1940s, such usage became an option, but reliable multicar PAs didn't happen until the 1980s.
Gerry. STM/BSRA

The next stop is Washington. Change for Forest Hills Trains on the Winter St. Platform, and Everett Trains on the Summer St. Platform. This is an Ashmont train, change for Braintree at Columbia.

Kamen Rider
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Re: Public Address System in 1936?

Post by Kamen Rider » Mon Mar 02, 2009 2:02 pm

484 and 744 (both R4- the first few contracts are called R1-9s or more comonly Arnines) were equiped with a prototype system by the BoT in 1946, as were some BMT Standards.
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Lunievicz

Re: Public Address System in 1936?

Post by Lunievicz » Mon Mar 02, 2009 6:23 pm

Thanks for the help on this. If I'm reading correctly PA systems were possible not very effective so weren't used with any frequency until after the 40's. So was it up to the passengers to check for their stop or did conductors shout out the stops at each station? I asked my father-in-law and he couldn't, from a personal perspective remember any conductors directing folks. He remembers only checking out the windows or open doors to see what station they were at. Anyone know what the protocol was for the conductors? Thanks again.

Kamen Rider
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Re: Public Address System in 1936?

Post by Kamen Rider » Mon Mar 02, 2009 6:40 pm

the frist few fleets orderd in the city didn't have Multiple Unit Door Control (MUDC). a crew member was required at the ends of the cars. they would just yell the stop. the IND included the station names on those black stripes every few feet in order to make sure you saw the name. from what I've hread about the old days and what i've seen these days, I honeslty can say that I think there was a much more intleigent ridership in the past and things like PAs weren't tottaly needed. the city made due without a door closing alarm untill 1971 for example.

another problem was the fact that with the exception of the standards, the C/R was on the outside of the train untill 1955.
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BMTLines
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Re: Public Address System in 1936?

Post by BMTLines » Tue Mar 03, 2009 9:53 pm

I have this picture in my collection showing an early experimental PA system on a BMT Standard. I believe the experiment was tried earlier than 1936 but I am not sure.

Image

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Gerry6309
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Re: Public Address System in 1936?

Post by Gerry6309 » Tue Mar 03, 2009 10:15 pm

This is a 'horn' type speaker - very directional! To cover the entire car there should have been a second unit opposite this one facing in the opposite direction. A 70 volt speaker line could have easily covered all three cars in the set with a hard-wire between cars. The amplifier could have been powered from the 600 volts through step down resistors, with the tube heaters supplied from the battery circuit. The horns would have projected voice clearly in a straight line but poorly at right angles. I assume the mic and amp were in the middle car and operated by the conductor. I doubt that two sets coupled together could have shared the system.
Gerry. STM/BSRA

The next stop is Washington. Change for Forest Hills Trains on the Winter St. Platform, and Everett Trains on the Summer St. Platform. This is an Ashmont train, change for Braintree at Columbia.

Kamen Rider
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Re: Public Address System in 1936?

Post by Kamen Rider » Tue Mar 03, 2009 11:03 pm

Gerry6309 wrote:To cover the entire car there should have been a second unit opposite this one facing in the opposite direction.

you can see it in the picture.
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bingdude
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Re: Public Address System in 1936?

Post by bingdude » Thu Mar 05, 2009 11:27 am

I remember reading somewhere (I think in Radio-Electronics circa 1938) that PA systems were installed in Pullman cars and Diners on long haul trains to provide Music. If there were any PA systems installed in rapid transit cars, they would have been as tests and probably written up in magazines like this. There would have been a lot of issues to work out (feedback, overcoming subway noise, overcoming people noise, making it work in dirty air and with dirty electrical power, Etc.)

I did a quick search but didn't find anything easily accessible on-line. Prehaps a trip to the technology/science collections at the NYPL might be in order. You would want to check out issues of Radio-Electronics, the IRE journal, Popular Electronics and others. These magazines as a rule are not usually microfilmed, so you have to seek out places that kept the hard copies .

Good luck

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Re: Public Address System in 1936?

Post by JPR » Sun Apr 12, 2009 10:45 pm

I rode the NYC subways extensively from childhood through college during the late 1940's, the 1950's, and the first half of the 1960's. I recall no PA announcements, nor calling out by the conductor, on the IND or BMT divisions during that time. One simply looked out at the station signs. I would leave out any such references in your book. Good Luck!
JPR

JPR
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Re: Public Address System in 1936?

Post by JPR » Sun Apr 12, 2009 10:50 pm

I rode the NYC subways extensively from childhood through college during the late 1940's, the 1950's, and the first half of the 1960's. I recall no PA announcements, nor calling out by the conductor, on the IND or BMT divisions during that time. One simply looked out at the station signs. I would leave out any such references in your book. Good Luck!
JPR

keithsy
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Re: Public Address System in 1936?

Post by keithsy » Tue Apr 14, 2009 5:24 pm

In those days, people were intelligent and literate, with common sense. It is not that way today and transit is a social service that panders to the least and the simplest. I will keep carping on this. We are slowing down the world for a few that will not come up to the level. The AMUE and the R10's did not have PA's. PA's were installed on the later in the late 70's. A conductor announced as he so pleased or not at all, but then a few major delays and people got lonely and wanted someone talking to them.

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Passenger
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Re: Public Address System in 1936?

Post by Passenger » Wed Apr 15, 2009 10:44 am

keithsy wrote:In those days, people were intelligent and literate, with common sense. It is not that way today and transit is a social service that panders to the least and the simplest. ...
IIRC, Early IRT stations had signs/decor to accommodate illiterates.

neroden
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Re: Public Address System in 1936?

Post by neroden » Sun May 03, 2009 11:44 pm

Passenger wrote:
keithsy wrote:In those days, people were intelligent and literate, with common sense. It is not that way today and transit is a social service that panders to the least and the simplest. ...
IIRC, Early IRT stations had signs/decor to accommodate illiterates.
Yep. Each station had a logo as well as a name, so that illiterate people could tell which station they were at by the logo.

railfan365
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Re: Public Address System in 1936?

Post by railfan365 » Sat Jun 06, 2009 10:21 pm

While I'm not aware of as many details as are some of the other posters, I can tell you that PA announcements did not exist in the subways in 1936. First, I'm familiar with the R-10's which were built in 1948-49 without pA and had it added later (1970's I believe). Second, the subway museum had an R-4 or R-7 in an exhibit a few years ago that had an experimental PA that was added long after the early R cars went into service.

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