Reproduced with permission from the Branford Electric Railway Journal
No other car in the museum’s collection arrived with nearly the fanfare as the newest addition, Port Authority Trans-Hudson (PATH) 745 did on Thursday, August 6th, in a parade down River Street and ceremony attended by hundreds of well-wishers.
It was a Sunday in 2001, but Peter Rinaldi, a senior engineering manager with the Port Authority of New York & New Jersey was working another long, grueling day at “ground zero”,’ coordinating the logistics of the recovery operation. He opened an intact emergency exit hatchway on West Street near Vesey Street and entered, along with several other engineers, police and fire personnel, the north tube of the PATH system’s loop through the World Trade Center site. They had no idea what to expect. The tunnel was flooded and so small rafts were employed. Paddling through a remarkably intact section of the tunnel and following the submerged trackway as it curved right, they found themselves at the north end of the 5-track PATH WTC station. There Peter climbed onto the platform and walked through the doors of car 745, still open and waiting for the passengers that never came back on 9/11. He stepped aboard the car and into the operating cab and at that moment became determined that, somehow, this car must be saved. Over 14 years later, his vision became a reality as car 745 touched down on trolley museum rails and became part of our collection.
Peter was the natural choice of the Port Authority to hold this important engineering position and work in conjunction with the New York City Department of Design and Construction to supervise the site cleanup and recovery program. Peter had started his career as a Civil Engineer with the PA in 1973 where he was first introduced to the World Trade Center site, working on foundations for #4 and #5. He was very familiar with the intricate subterranean structures and the critical concrete slurry walls — the so-called “bathtub” — which held back soil and water table pressures in this site which extended down to level B-6, some 75 feet below street level. The PATH station, and car 745, was on level B-5. Levels B-4, B-3, B-2 and B-1 were above it, along with the underground “Concourse” level. Getting this car out intact was going to be a challenge.
Car 745 was the lead car (on the north end) of a 7-car train which had left Hoboken at 8:42 AM, arrived on Track 3 at about 8:52, and was due to depart the loop station at 9:00 AM for the return trip to New Jersey. Behind it were cars 143-160-845-750-139-612. When the unthinkable happened, the entire PATH station was ordered evacuated, employees included. As a result, there was no loss of life on the train or in the station. This was verified fairly early in the search/rescue phase, when first responders initially reached the train and marked it all-clear of victims. The layout of the station meant (see figure later in this article) that the south end was heavily damaged by the collapse of the south tower while the northeast end was not in the direct path of the collapse of north tower. Car 745 showed very little damage with just a few small dents and gashes, while 143 behind it had larger areas of damage. Conditions got progressively worse, with portions of the rest of the train crushed under the twisted ruins of concrete slabs, rebar and steel beams that once formed levels B1-B4.
At this initial survey, it might have seemed hopeless to get any cars out intact, but Peter had a plan which was slowly implemented within the larger mission of getting the site cleaned up. Thousands of tons of wreckage were removed with large excavators, moving from south to north. Much of this material was taken to Staten Island where the gruesome process of sifting for human remains took place. Eventually the clearing process reached the basement levels and they were ripped apart by the heavy equipment. All of the remaining cars in the train, other than 143 and 745, were taken off the site in pieces and scrapped.
It was now February 22nd, 2002. The area that had been the south part of the station was completely clear and graded. Cars 143 and 745 were up ahead in the extant part of the station, still topped by the partial remains of levels B1-B4. A temporary track was laid up to car 143 and a long cable was attached between an excavator and the coupler of 143, as seen in the second photo below. The machine backed up, its treads supported on heavy planking, and 143 was pulled into the daylight for the first time in months. A crane picked it and set it aside, and now a similar process was used to pull car 745 south and into the clear, where it was lifted and set aside. There was still no way to transport these cars off the site.
By March 2002, a temporary pre-fabricated steel truss bridge was completed and connected to Liberty Street. Two “Low-boy” trailers were then able to accept the two cars and truck them to another Port Authority facility, JFK airport, where they eventually went inside Hangar #17 for a thorough cleaning and decontamination. This location was used to warehouse other WTC artifacts, many of which were intended for presentation and display at the planned 9/11 memorial museum.
This museum opened on the tenth anniversary of the tragic event, but the PATH cars were not to be found within. During the design and construction of the museum, it had become apparent that these large-scale artifacts were just too large to fit inside. Peter Rinaldi retired from the Port Authority in 2010, with his dream of seeing the cars preserved still unresolved. Several groups had expressed interest, but none had the means to transport and display them. A referral from the New York Transit Museum in Brooklyn to trolley museum President Emeritus Bill Wall was presented to the full trolley museum Board of Trustees and led to a vigorous discussion. While such a car is very “modern” in comparison to our collection, which has an average construction date of 1911, and while rapid transit equipment is an ancillary rather than a core focus of our collections scope, ultimately the museum must, to achieve its vision of perpetual conservation of our collection, make this collection relevant to future generations. At hand was an opportunity to display a piece that was strongly tied to arguably the most important historical event in recent United States history. Imbued in car 745 is the ordinary — the seemingly endless ebb and flow of the typical work-day commuter — and at the same time the extraordinary events of a day which changed world history.
Several months were spent going through a very thorough process with the Port Authority and their contracted representatives to enable the museum to take possession of the car and other artifacts from the site.
The Shore Line Trolley Museum has another car which was operated by PATH, although we catalog it as a Hudson & Manhattan (PATH’s predecessor) car. Number 503 was built for the H & M in 1928. As detailed in the April, 2008 museum newsletter article, the H&M was often called “the tubes” because of its construction method as a bored tunnel with cast-iron rings supporting the concrete lining. Two of these rings were also donated to our museum. The H&M, a private company with a good reputation for customer service, opened in 1908 (although the first construction activity dated to 1874) with service on the uptown – Sixth Avenue portion.
A second portion of the H&M system opened in 1909. It was a loop terminal fed by two tubes beneath the Hudson River and was located in the basement of the original Twin Towers, the Hudson Terminal buildings, which occupied the blocks bounded by Church Street on the east, Greenwich Street on the west, Fulton Street to the north and Cortlandt Street on the south. Dey Street ran between the north and south Hudson Terminal towers, each 22 stories tall. Cars such as the museum’s #503 ran through this loop terminal as well as the Sixth Ave. line. The first group of cars was known as “Class A” and the last group, including car 503, was “Class J.” These 1908-1928 rolling stock were supplemented in 1958 by 50 cars of class “K/MP-52” which were ordered to provide additional Newark-Hudson Terminal service. These cars resembled contemporary NYC subway cars such as #6688 in the museum’s collection. No K/MP-52 cars were preserved.
By 1954, the private H&M was feeling the effects of automobile and bus competition and, like many other passenger rail companies, entered bankruptcy. The company was acquired by the Port Authority in 1962 and became known as PATH at that time. New cars were designed and ordered and by 1965, some of the original cars were being replaced by these new “PA-1s.” The 1965 PA-1 cars were either “A” cars, having an operating cab at one end, or “C” “blind motor” cars, to be used in the middle of the train only. Unlike the nearby NYC Transit Authority, PATH did not use true “married pairs” — each of the A cars could be moved as a single unit, but it took at least two cars to make up a usable train for passenger service. A second order of nearly identical cars, PA-2, arrived in 1966-1967.
Car 745 was delivered as part of order PA-3 in 1972. It was the first H&M/PATH car to be made outside the United States, the contract being awarded to Hawker-Siddeley of London, Ontario, which was also building equipment for the Washington Metro. PA-1, PA-2 and PA-3 cars were all interchangeable and interoperable, having aluminum bodies with fiberglass ends, two doorways per side, and measuring at 51’6″ across mating faces of couplers (the same length as IRT equipment). With the arrival of the 46 PA-3s, which were all A cars, the last of the pre-war fleet, known informally as the “black cars” because of their steel-dust coated grimy exterior, were retired from passenger service. It could therefore be said that car 745 replaced car 503. Our museum obtained car 503 in 1979, after a period of work car service. Car #256, a 1909 “C class”, was preserved in 1966 by the St. Louis Museum of Transportation.
In 1986, class PA-4 arrived. This was the first stainless steel equipment for PATH (the cars were made by Kawasaki) and it led to the retirement of the K cars from passenger service. As delivered, they could not run with the earlier PA1-PA3 cars. During this time period, all of the PA1-3 cars were cycled through Kawasaki’s plant in upstate New York for overhaul and were made to be electromechanically compatible with the PA-4s. In the mid-2000s, PATH made a stunning announcement: they were soliciting new cars to replace the entire fleet. Class PA-5 began arriving in 2008 and by 2012, 340 cars were accepted and all of the older cars were retired. While the stainless steel PA-4s were retained for work service, the aluminum-bodied cars were all scrapped.
According to a 1961 Port Authority study, the primary reason for acquiring the H&M was to prevent it from shutting down and diverting 31 million annual passengers to the PA’s already overburdened automotive crossings of the Hudson. Initially, a plan was put forth to retain and modernize the Hudson Terminal buildings, and the most favored location for a planned World Trade Center was actually on the East River. By 1962 however, that plan had shifted to incorporate a complete re-development of the Hudson Terminal property into the WTC. Additional parcels were acquired through a controversial eminent domain process, displacing an industrial neighborhood of low-rise buildings known as “Radio Row”, until the Authority had assembled a contiguous parcel of 12 city blocks and began construction in August 1966.
The area was rich with rail transit history. In addition to the Hudson Tubes, the IRT’s ca. 1917 subway (today’s #1 train) ran under West Broadway which merged into Greenwich St. at Vesey, with a station at Cortlandt & Greenwich (above the H&M tubes). The IRT’s Ninth and Sixth Avenue elevated lines stopped at Cortlandt and Greenwich/Church (respectively) — these were torn down by 1940. Streetcars traversed many of the streets. Horsecar #76 in the museum’s collection most likely ran nearby, just a block away, turning from West Broadway east onto Vesey St. Along West Street, which was once the waterfront, numerous connecting ferries from New Jersey railroad terminals docked — these ferries would slowly be rendered obsolete by rail and then automobile tunnels under the Hudson.
Building the WTC site while keeping the IRT and PATH stations open was an engineering challenge. The blocks on the west side of Greenwich St. were excavated and at the same time a slurry wall was built on all four sides, which the news media often called the “bathtub.” To be fair, it was the exact inverse of a bathtub, in that it was designed to keep the water out. The site depths ran far below the water table line which was to be expected–in colonial times, the waterfront was not much beyond Greenwich St. During the excavation, the 1909 vintage H&M “tubes” were exposed as the soil was removed around them. Temporary shoring resembling a trestle was used to suspend both the south tube (under Cortlandt St.) and the north (under Fulton St.) during construction.
The existing loop terminal was kept running beneath the site of the former H&M towers, which were demolished. A new loop terminal was being built. To allow for longer train and platform length, the new track design made a “dog-leg,” turning sharply south away from the south tube and running under what had been a city block, diving down beneath the existing tube, then turning north and fanning out into the 5-track station. The north end was nearly identical. Finally, in July 1971 the new station was cut-in and the old tubes to the east were cut off. However, portions of the old H&M station continued to be used as a loading dock within the WTC site. These last vestiges were removed ca. 2008 as reconstruction of the site progressed.
Coming to the Trolley Museum
On Tuesday, August 4Th, the trailer that had held car 745 in Hangar 17 was rolled out into the daylight. Two cranes picked up the entire car and moved it to the special Silk Road Transport trailer. After making the long voyage over the interstate highways, the trailer and 745 arrived in East Haven on Wednesday evening. Thanks to the generosity of Tom Hennessey of Forbes Premium Fuels, it was housed safely at the East Haven Industrial Park overnight.
On the morning of Thursday, August 6th, the Red Knights firefighter motorcycle group escorted this unusual cargo up Hemingway Avenue to the Town Green. At 11:00 AM the short parade stepped off. Leading were the FDNY honor guard and their bagpipe band, followed by the East Haven FD honor guard, the Emerald Society bagpipers (representing many Connecticut fire departments), uniformed first responders from Branford, East Haven, North Haven and North Branford, museum officials, elected officials and other honored guests, and at last followed by car 745 atop the trailer. Inside were Peter Rinaldi and Al Zelazo, museum Trustee and PATH engineer. Al was at work on the evening of 9/11 and ran one of the first trains into Manhattan after service was restored on the uptown branch.
The procession marched down River Street, which was lined with hundreds of spectators. Upon reaching the Trolley Museum, car 745 was parked with the small reviewing stand and podium in front of it and H&M car 503 nearby. Museum General Manager Wayne Sandford was the Master of Ceremonies. On 9/11/2001, he was the East Haven Fire Chief and gave the order to send East Haven firefighters down to New York to assist with the rescue and recovery effort. This was supported by the first speaker he introduced, East Haven Mayor Joe Maturo, who was also Mayor on that day. Additional speakers were Branford First Selectman Jamie Cosgrove, United States Senator Richard Blumenthal, Museum President Jeff Hakner, State Senator Sean Scanlon, Museum Trustee Al Zelazo, and Branford Second Selectman Joe Higgins. Joe, a retired top official with FDNY, recalled the morning of 9/11 as he and several other top-ranking FDNY personnel left the command center in Brooklyn to rush to the scene. Joe was the only one to come back.
Media coverage of the ceremony was live on some local channels, and was picked up by major outlets in Connecticut, New York and nationally. Volunteer trolley operator Bob Rodenkirk, a reporter for CBS radio news in the Chicago area, happened to be here for his yearly visit and filed his story, which aired on the CBS radio network news. With this much publicity, many visitors were asking to see the car already the next day.
To Barn 5, and the future
Once the crowd of hundreds subsided, the hard work began of getting 745 onto our rails and under cover. With Bill Wall – who coordinated all aspects of moving the car – at the helm, our NYC subway car 6688 came up to Sprague Station and partially ascended the temporary steel ramp between the track and the Silk Road trailer. Using a coupler adapter, this car was coupled up to 745. Chocks, straps and cables that had been holding 745 on the trailer were removed and 6688 gave a tug. At first, all of the axles of 745 just slid. This was expected, as the trucks had been underwater for at least 3 weeks following the disaster. With some rocking back and forth, eventually all of the axles broke free of their rust bonds and the car was towed to the Barn 5 / Sando area. There, using a different set of coupler adapters, H&M car 503 coupled on to the other end of 745 and it was pushed into 51 track for a temporary display of the car’s exterior.
A few weeks later, additional materials such as signage from the WTC PATH station and intact pieces of the cast-iron tunnel lining comprising two complete rings arrived. The question of when, or if, car 745 may ever run again is an open one. Because of the long-duration flood which was approximately to the platform height, almost every mechanical, pneumatic and electrical component under the car requires replacement. The museum’s plan for the immediate future is to make this car viewable by the public, with a more permanent exhibit that will allow visitors to enter the car to be opened on 9/11/2016.
Thanks to Alan Zelazo, Terry Kennedy, Peter Rinaldi and the PANYNJ for contributions to this article.